Creating Content that’s NOT About Your Brand



August 26, 2013 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

It’s hard to convince clients to spend thousands of dollars on creating content that is not directly pushing a sale. Let’s compare both scenarios of branded content and see what’s more engaging. What would you rather read?

  1. A department store’s article that promotes their products and talks about how great their quality is, or
  2. An article discussing current fashion trends this season.

The second option will gain more exposure and interest from the readers, and have a higher probability of going viral.

Meet their needs

Brands should resist the temptation to include self-serving bits in their content and should instead focus on addressing their customers’ desires and needs. Sales-focused content will prove to the brand’s audience that they have an ulterior motive in creating content. This will cause the reader to click away and lose their trust.

Spanning the customer’s needs and answering their concerns must be greatly emphasized during the ideation process. Studies have found that word count doesn’t matter as much if the content is relevant and important to the reader. High quality content is all about creating an experience that is meaningful in the customer’s life, not necessarily getting out copy points.

Switch from a marketer’s mindset to a publisher’s

Online media has provided marketers with an opportunity to build a lifetime relationship with their customers and influence their behaviors. However, marketers often think about their content from the sales standpoint instead of  customer’s point of view.

In this case, marketers should put their titles aside and think more like publishers or journalists. What content would publishers find engaging? What stories would journalists run?

By creating content that is thoughtful and tells a compelling story they can work with publishers who already have relationships with their target audience.

When will engaging content drive sales?

That’s the most important question. We live in an economy where resources are limited and spending clients’ dollars to create “experiences” through “storytelling” can be difficult.

However, if customers are engaged and are greatly invested, there is a high possibility that your content will influence their behavior. The key to sales is a successful call to action.

A call to action shouldn’t always be a hard sell. An indirect CTA successfully sells the brand’s deep thoughts and creates a strong connection between the consumer’s needs and the client’s solutions. Some company blogs make the mistake of including a hard CTA in every blog post they write:

  • …and then his hair grew completely back. Learn more about our products here.
  • …and that’s why brown is the perfect color for fall. Check out our line of brown gloves here.
  • …and then we returned the baby seal to the ocean. Donate to our seal fund today.

Regular readers start tuning this out after a few articles and new readers feel isolated if they’re immediately asked to purchase on their first visit. Be careful with your use of hard CTAs in your content. Both readers and publishers won’t like them.

Due to the competitive market that we work in, marketers and brands find it hard to resist the temptation of doing a hard sell throughout their content. However, by implying a smarter strategy, a more loyal customer base will be attained. Market smarter, not harder.

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