Branded Content is Not Selfish

Branded content, like articles, blogs, social media posts, email newsletter content, photos and video, specifically about your business (and sometimes products, services, etc.) should never be looked at as tooting your own horn or being selfish of the time readers take to review the message. Content that helps current and potential customers learn more about your business can only help your business grow and flourish and enhance customer relationships. Content that actually doesn’t even mention your business, product or service can also help!  Plus, it is likely that branded content is going to be less costly than traditional advertising options (although there are some expensive options like movies). Let’s look at some branded content examples and how branded content is not selfish but helpful to any business.

Blog Posts

Blog posts are obviously something that we like to have on our own website. You’re already here and you are hopefully still reading (first one to email us to say they read this gets $1,000! Just kidding!!) Blog posts are a wonderful tool to drive traffic to your website. Blog posts can be anything that you want them to be, but it is always important to ask yourself, is this post going to be useful to my reader? Will my reader actually take the time to read this whole post or would it be better as a video for someone to watch/listen to? Know your keywords and your audience and wrap all of that together to publish a beautiful post! Don’t forget images too, especially so you can share it on social media.

A few blog post ideas: 

  • FAQ blogs – write a blog post about common questions you receive
  • Specific product/service blogs – Some argue that blogs about specific services/products don’t qualify as branded content, but we see a thin line to argue this. For example, a salon is seeing a big trend in a certain style of coloring. They can write a blog about it to tell the reader what the trend is, how they can do this trend for the customer, roughly how much it could cost and show pictures and videos of the before and after result. So while they are talking about a service they can offer, they are also talking about a popular trend!
  • How-to posts – Maybe your business sells a tool. You could write different blog posts about the many ways a specific tool could be used.
  • Advice/opinion pieces – Maybe your business offers services for people. Posts about how your services can help them in different ways are always useful.

Photos/Videos

Think of something you have purchased lately. Did you see a photo or video of it before you made the purchase? Were there multiple angles of the product? Even if you purchased a service, did you watch any videos or testimonials about the service, maybe from a currently satisfied customer?

Having great photos and videos can only help to build your content. We live in a digital world and people tend to gravitate toward photos and videos first, then moving on to read what goes with it. Make sure you have something for people to look at or listen to. 

Reviews/Testimonials

Speaking of reviews and testimonials, those are also great branded content to have on hand for others to read. Hearing from satisfied customers can help to sell whatever it is you have. When others are happy with your business, reviews and testimonials help to spread the word to others. You can pull these from your Google My Business account where reviews may already live, or have a space on your website where people can input their own content for you. Either way, it is still more branded content that can help with the end goal.

Case Studies/White Papers

Case studies and white papers are wonderful tools that can prove that your products/services work for others. Start with how someone had a problem or a need and write about how your product/service helped them overcome that need. You will never know how your product/services have really helped someone until you ask around. Write about these wonderful stories as often as you can.

Examples of Great Branded Content

We understand that not every business is a fortune 500 business with endless amounts of money to spend. That is why the examples we gave are great starting points for any business. The hope is that something you write goes viral and is able to reach millions of people. But if you want to know about some businesses that have gone above and beyond with branded content, here are some examples:

  • The LEGO Movies – Who even knew how much making movies about LEGO would benefit the product, but it did! Sales increased by 25% after the first LEGO movie was released!
  • TOMS Shoes – TOMS Shoes posts a lot of great photos and videos about adventures that they go on to help others and in every photo/video, it shows someone wearing their shoes! Great product placement and brand recognition.
  • Airbnb – There was an article about families vacationing together, sponsored by Airbnb on Fatherly.com. Only two sentences mentioned Airbnb – the first sentence at the very beginning of the article said they were a sponsor and that they have vacation options around the world and at the very end another sentence that just wraps up the article saying to explore their options. The rest of the article was just a story about a family on vacation. But because of the piece not being salesy, people won’t feel pushed away from Airbnb, but more likely to say hey – this family had a great time, so can we!

Wrapping It Up

After reading this, you may be thinking to yourself, wow that seems like a lot of writing and use of photo/video equipment that I don’t have. And I am certainly not a creator or writer. No fear. That is why we are here! We have team members who are content creators and writers who can help bring your ideas to life through visuals and words. Let us help you grow your branded content and impact your customers in a way that makes them want to purchase what you are selling!

Is Change on the Horizon for Marketing?

All kinds of marketing really had to make a shift in the past 18 months. People were staying closer to home, were online more than ever, and were sitting on the couch in front of the television more than anyone would care to admit. Shopping closer to home was happening more, and the mom and pop small businesses were reaping some benefits. There are some key opportunities and challenges for businesses when it comes to marketing lurking in the upcoming year. Below we will discuss some marketing trends that should be considered for 2022. If any of these seem challenging, let’s tackle them together!

Double Down on Digital

Digital advertising is predicted to boom in 2022. This really shouldn’t surprise anyone though. According to GroupM, the amount spent on advertising to support ecommerce will increase 66% in 2022, while Zenith predicts digital channels will amount to more than 60% of global ad spend for the first time next year. 

The Internet is just going to keep growing. Digital communication is never going away. Online networks are where people spend their free time. The Internet is where people shop. It is where people communicate and it is where people research. Use the Internet and digital communications to their fullest potential in 2022.

Keep Going With Short Videos

Short videos are still going strong on social media and are predicted to continue this route in 2022. Instagram reels and TikTok are just two examples of where short videos come from. These short videos take no time to view and are widely shared. If there is a way to utilize a short video format for a product, business, promotion or spotlight, do it! Video is so powerful!

But don’t skim on the longer length, feature feel videos. IGTV and any YouTube content is still wonderful. Video overall is just great!

Customer Retention Matters

We talked previously about generational groupings for the purpose of marketing and how it may or may not help when it comes to getting to know your target audience. Beyond just figuring out who the target audience is and how to sell to them/acquire their business, businesses will need to rethink their ways of retaining customers. Competition in the digital market is likely going to become fiercer, only making it hard for a business to grab any attention. This is why the thinking around the customer needs to do a 180. 

Educating customers on why they need your product or service should always be top priority. Think of it in terms of someone who couldn’t possibly live their life without this product. Educate them on why this product is vital to own or use and why your product is better than the competition. Make it all about the customer’s feelings instead of the business. 

The hard sell is going by the wayside. People are just over it. They don’t want to be bothered by gimmicks or “tricks of the trade” anymore. There is not enough time in the day for that. People either know what they want, who they want to buy it from and just make the purchase. Or they research, usually online, but also through friends and family, and take the time to seek out which business should earn their loyalty. Redirect typical hard selling strategies to making sure current customers stay customers for the long run.

Own Your Customers

Ok, no, you don’t really own them, but you need to own how you can contact them. While social media has so many benefits, those networks could go down at any moment. That could mean losing a HUGE database of potential customers, current customers and past customers. Converting those people to your own database takes time and effort but it is worth it. Doing so allows you to be able to ensure the message you want to get to them can (think email marketing and newsletters). Additionally, you will be able to shine outside of where all of the competitors also live. Don’t get lost in the newsfeeds. 

Ask For Help

If there is one thing that always reigns true in this industry, it is that change is always happening. We are used to it and stay on top of it as best we can. But that is our job. And that is why it is important to ask our True Fit Marketing team for help with your marketing strategy for 2022. It isn’t too late to rethink what you’ve been doing and analyze what did and did not work. And it is great to make changes. Ask for help with your marketing efforts because it is important that you focus on other aspects of your business as well.

True Fit Marketing has been recognized as a 2021 Top 30 Best Branding Agency in Pennsylvania by DesignRush.

True Fit Marketing has been recognized as a 2021 Top 30 Best Branding Agency in Pennsylvania by DesignRush. 

DesignRush is a B2B marketplace that connects brands with professional full-service agencies, web design companies, digital marketing firms, and top technology companies.

Their platform lists over 9,300 agencies from over 50 different countries and is consulted by thousands of decision-makers looking to start a project.

“We are so excited to be honored with this award,” said Owner Arlea Hoffman. “Our goal is to build a brand that lasts as long as a business. We will always be a partner with our clients, so this award is for them as well. We work together to meet desires, wants and needs in an industry that is ever changing. Branding is a top priority for a business so it is important that we are on top of our game with knowing what is happening in the branding world. Special thanks to DesignRush for bringing together agency professionals and leaders to learn and collaborate with.”

True Fit Marketing is a full-service marketing advocacy firm powered by technology and grounded with foundational marketing. The agency has grown immensely over the past two years. From clients to staff, they are proud of their growth and the growth in the region. 

Are Generational Groupings Helpful for Marketers and Business Owners?

Generations X, Y, Z (add in whatever other letters – but don’t get confused when the Gen X’ers are older than the Gen A kids – phew!), Millennials, Boomers or Baby Boomers, and the list of names goes on and on. There are only six living generations in America (hmmm…that’s pushing it though because these people would be 95+), but it seems like so many more due to some having multiple names for the same generation. It can get confusing and messy trying to decipher who belongs in which demographic. And sometimes it even depends on who the study is by because some years get mixed in with other generations. Sometimes a Gen Y person falls into the Gen Z demographic and it gets complicated. The real question here is, does someone born into a set grouping of years really fall into the stereotypes that are aligned with them? As marketers and business owners, does all of this really have an effect on how we target them, and the way we send messages to them – specifically when it comes to advertising? 

It All Began When…

We don’t really know this answer but what we can tell you is that the first generation to be grouped demographically, and agreed upon by demographers and market researchers, are The Depression Era people. These are people born in 1912s. From there, that is where the years and demographics kind of get skewed. The generations are widely agreed upon, but not universally. So that means there are always going to be people who don’t fall into the generational breakdown. 

So Now That We Have Cleared That Up… 

Let’s discuss who we are currently marketing to in terms of birth year. Remember, these six mentioned are not always agreed upon.

  1. Born 1901-1926: Again, there are absolutely businesses that are marketing to this generation, but how many 95+ year olds are on social media?
  2. Born 1927-1945: This would likely be what many refer to as our elderly population.
  3. Born 1946-1964: As a generalization, these are now the new grandparents.
  4. Born 1965-1980: They are getting younger! These are likely the parents of today’s world OR those who are choosing not to raise a family. There is a whole mix match of demographics that fall into this category.
  5. Born 1981-2000: The best generation alive (who said that????) Just kidding. This is the group many of our team falls into.
  6. Born after 2001: They are just starting to live in the real world.

Marketing to Each Generation

As a business or marketer, you should know your target market. From there, you should know the likes and dislikes of them. But does them being born during a certain year really help you as a marketer at all?

The likely answer is no, but we can discuss. 

Each generation is diverse. Just like each individual person is diverse. And just because someone was born in 1981 doesn’t automatically mean they feel a certain way about something, or purchases something just because of that. Let’s be real. The spenders of today, right now at the end of 2021, are buying out of necessity because of what is currently happening with the world. Marketers need to communicate their offerings in a way that makes their audience believe it is something they can’t live without. This is where targeting can become more specific.

A Better Way to Market

Forget the generations and the ideologies behind them for a minute. Would you ever go up to someone and say, “OK Boomer (get it?). Since you were born between 1946 and 1964, that means you like rock’n’roll, you experimented with drugs, you spent all kinds of money and didn’t save a penny.” Or how about people who live in rural versus urban areas…they are exposed to marketing efforts in different ways. From the farm to the city – lifestyles are different so marketing is different. So just because someone who lives in a rural area is a Gen X person, do they fit into all of the stereotypes? 

NO! You wouldn’t because that is not true for everyone. Hence why marketing toward generational stereotypes does not work.

Taking a look at your actual target market and knowing what they like, dislike, what their past is like and maybe their future is what is going to help make sales. Plus, knowing where your target audience is, whether they are on the Internet (is it computer or phone?), television (what stations? What subscription services?), or print media (things like magazines, billboards, newspapers – yes they still exist – mailers, etc.) will help make sure your business/product/service, whatever, is actually being delivered to them.

And Don’t Forget People Change

Just because at one time or another someone didn’t save money and spent every penny they had, doesn’t mean that they didn’t change their habits. And just because someone believed in something years ago doesn’t mean they can’t have a change of heart. A lot of factors are always being considered and that is why it is important to always be on the lookout for what your target audience is doing, saying, feeling, etc. Marketers and business owners need to consider all of their demographics to find the right target audience. And that doesn’t mean just pushing advertising to everyone in that target audience. It means getting whatever you’re selling in front of people that want or need it. 

There is no one size fits all approach to marketing and selling, but we can always do our best to ensure we are meeting the needs of our audience for today.

Three Business Apps We Love

Our team went to lunch together a couple of weeks ago and were discussing different apps that we use, personally and for business, that we can’t live without. A couple were big conversation topics on the business level so we thought we would share the pros and cons of them with everyone to see how they could or could not be used in the business world.

WhatsApp

This specific app came up in conversation because it was a platform that was a part of the Facebook social media family of apps that shutdown in October, 2021. WhatsApp is a messaging platform that connects people for free* (always an asterisk because, of course, there are upgrades/paid plans and changes). There is the one-on-one text feature, the Group Chat feature where you can share messages, pictures and videos with up to 256 people, WhatsApp voice and video calls, and document sharing abilities. 

According to DigitalTrends.com, “WhatsApp Messenger is now the leading mobile messaging app in 169 countries — although perhaps surprisingly, it wasn’t as popular in the U.S., where Messenger was more frequently used. This seems to be changing now, as recent data shows WhatsApp tops the current list of the most popular global mobile messaging apps in 2021. Currently, more than 100 billion messages are sent each day on WhatsApp, making it the most active messaging app in the world.” Some members of our team have used it, others have not. Have you used it? 

Business Pro: A True Fit Marketing team member said that her friends used WhatsApp when they were traveling in a different country as a means to communicate with their friends and family back here in the United States. People can literally work from anywhere in today’s world. This could be a free*/inexpensive way to stay connected with associates and business connections. 

Business Pro: With the document sharing feature, PDFs, spreadsheets, slideshows and more can be sent through the app without email. Just need some Wi-fi or internet and you are set to go! 

Business Con: It may not be the most professional platform, but we assume that is why the WhatsApp Business App was created. It has its advantages! We aren’t sure Fortune 500 companies should use this app as a business tool, but it most certainly could work for small businesses. It is a great way to connect with customers, show off products/services, and a way to answer questions during someone’s shopping experience. 

Canva App

We had a good laugh when we started to discuss the Canva app. Our “artistically challenged” teammates were like it makes me look like a real artist when I use it. Canva is one of the most user-friendly design and publishing tools. Now that it is an app, work can literally be done anywhere!

Business Pro: From small business to Fortune 500 companies, Canva can be invaluable to both. There’s a pricing tier from free to Pro to Enterprise. If you are working as a team, teammates can work together on designs in real time, hence why we think the app is awesome. Additionally, there are endless photos and videos available for use. No more worrying about copyright issues. These resources are ready to be used and literally at your fingertips.

Business Pro: Canva is used by more than just our graphic designers. Beautiful charts can be created within the app to provide clients with awesome visuals. Social media managers can use the app to create designs for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and so on. Even with zero experience with Photoshop, Canva makes it super simple to bring ideas to life. 

Business Pro: If you are using this as a team, you can have client folders that can house logos, specific client images and designs, brand colors/fonts, and so much more that is 100% specific to that client. No more digging around in different places to get what is needed. It is all housed in Canva.

Business Con: It can get expensive. But in our eyes, it is invaluable. We also don’t love the publishing feature as we like to schedule a lot of our posts. And this can be a personal issue, but sometimes people just prefer to do designing on a big screen versus the little screens of where an app is typically housed. One last thing, some users feel that the photo and video options are lacking, but we like them!

QuickBooks App

QuickBooks has been around for what seems like forever. Our team isn’t even that old and we can remember seeing it on the shelves in stores. Today it can just be downloaded from their website and used on any computer or used straight from the cloud with no download. Initially QuickBooks was created for small businesses, but now it is one of the most popular accounting softwares on the market. QuickBooks offers so many tools for business owners and clients, but did you know there’s an app too?

Business Pro: The app allows you to take credit/debit card payments! QuickBooks GoPayment (previously called Intuit GoPayment), is a mobile payment solution. People usually think about Square or PayPal as the card reader processing solutions, but did you know that you can literally take a payment within QuickBooks and it will be right there in your accounting books? You won’t have to take the extra step of moving payments from another app to QuickBooks.

Business Pro: QuickBooks does so much more than figure out business taxes (because that is what some of our teammates just thought it did). There are hundreds of app integrations available through this software. There’s an app for timesheets, payroll, job costing, billing, invoicing, managing customer accounts, financial reports, keeping track of mileage, and so much more. Some of the apps have a fee associated with them, others don’t. 

Business Con: If accounting isn’t in your wheelhouse, there can be quite the learning curve to get QuickBooks to work for you. However, once you get it all set up and to your liking, it is super simple and user-friendly. It can also be expensive, especially for new business owners. There are competitor apps out there that may be cheaper, but we still think QuickBooks is the best one out there today.

What Other Apps Do You Use?

We are curious to know what other apps you love to use for your business. Is there something that you think our team would love? Do we have any app creators out there? We would love to talk to you about the business apps that you created! Check us out on our Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn and let’s chat! Keep the conversation going there.