Find your brand voice with the Branded Content Marketing Association

A new organisation is launched to promote expertise in content marketing among brands and advertising agencies

12 OCTOBER 2017 – 09:45 JEREMY MAGGS

As brands increasingly put pressure on agencies to deliver compelling content and stories over more traditional advertising product, a new organisation has been formed — the Branded Content Marketing Association (BCMA).

One of the conveners, Spero Patricios, says its principal mandate is to engage and educate agencies, brands and broadcasters in how to create “valuable, compelling, relevant and interesting information for the industry” and develop “more creative marketers around the concept of content marketing”.

The BCMA is the official SA chapter of the UK’s Content Marketing Association and has already attracted DStv and eNCA as members.

Branded content or branded entertainment is any form of advertising that uses articles, videos, podcasts and infographics on websites and social media to promote a product or service. Though there are no official statistics on take-up in SA, Patricios says: “Like all industries there are innovators and laggards. Most of the multinational brands have embraced the concept and if they haven’t executed a campaign locally, they are probably thinking about it.”

Part of the problem, he says, is finding the right people. “Not only are talented content professionals hard to find, but it can be tough to know what to look for when hiring someone. The skills set can be diverse and often is not defined sufficiently by a particular organisation or content team, making a successful search more difficult.”

One of the hunting grounds to plug the gap are newsrooms. “Branded content is about telling a story and not selling the features and benefits of the product,” Patricios explains. “Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. It’s about imparting information in a manner that they want to consume it rather than forcing them to watch it. To do this, brands need to ensure they have a good team that has experience in telling stories, and that is what journalists are good at.”

Patricios cautions brands wanting to play in this space to look at branded content as just one component of successful marketing. “Branded content is not a stand-alone technique that can thrive in a vacuum. Rather, it’s something that needs to be integrated into your overarching marketing plan, as its principles will strengthen other marketing efforts. While you are planning your campaign you need to look at content as one of the pillars. Then you decide if you are going to lead the campaign through content or another medium. Once you have that strategy in place you can plan the execution.”

Critical to branded content success is developing a unique and authentic brand voice. “If you’re not careful you can end up with a random assortment of voices and tone which gives an inconsistent brand experience. A brand voice isn’t about the creation of a nonhuman voice. It’s about being consistent with the voice you are creating — positioning yourself as an easily identified and authoritative source for your area of expertise.”