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Not Sure Which Stories to Tell in Your Native Content Ads? Just be Authentic

Good storytelling isn’t all that complicated when the message is authentic. But when you're running a small business and are acting as a marketer and advertiser, it’s easy to get lost in the idea that marketing and selling must go hand-in-hand.

With native advertising — also known as branded or sponsored content — it’s important to tell stories vs. trying to sell items. The most effective native content ads tell readers stories that reveal what your brand stands for, not what it does, according to Kaaren Whitney-Vernon, CEO of millennial-focused branded entertainment agency Shift2.

“True branded entertainment may not only be the saving grace the ad industry has been searching for, but it could also be the way advertisers connect with consumers on a more substantive level than ever before,” she wrote in Adweek last November. She may have been referring to the television industry, but the same is true across all media platforms.

Substantive is the key word. Millennial consumers, who now outnumber Baby Boomers, recognize when you’re selling to them, according to online marketing expert Ayodeji Onbalusi. They’re using ad blockers and are more likely to trust branded content than traditional advertising.

“Advertising should have a basis in real ideas, not just pestering ads and slogans,” he wrote.

This is why speaking in layman’s terms in your native advertising is so important last month — because consumers want authenticity and they don’t want to feel confused or tricked.

So, with all of that in mind, how do you determine what kind of story you have to tell about your business? That’s where branded content experts come into play.

Trained journalists create effective native advertising content by using their storytelling expertise to help businesses and marketers accomplish their goals. By lifting brand awareness through engaging storytelling, businesses are able to build relationships with potential customers rather than losing that connection after closing one sale.

The beauty of native advertising is that it can work across all industries and for a wide variety of clients, big or small. We’re producing engaging content for every type of business, from mom-and-pop storefronts to realtors to large-scale health care providers.

With professional journalists trained in storytelling, not marketing, we’re able to discuss ideas that are specific and unique to each client rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing.

“(Marketing strategist) Matthew Tyson wrote on The Huffington Post in 2015 that millennials ‘are not moved by flashy ads, big promises, and wow factor. They want authentic messages, authentic brands, and authentic interactions,’” according to a recent Washington Times article. “To become more authentic, Tyson suggested that companies do a better job of communicating (social media), being transparent (show what happens behind the scenes), being relevant (align with millennial wants and needs), and care (show that you provide something of value to the world).”

When professional storytellers create content for your brand, they’re creating content with these end goals in mind — and also that the content will be seen, read and shared.

“Attention is the award — the reward — of successful native, and nothing less than best-practices content will win it,” wrote Stephanie Losee, head of Content for VISA and the chair of the Native Advertising Awards Jury.


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Lauren Glendenning

Written by Lauren Glendenning

Lauren Glendenning is the director of sponsored and native content at Colorado Mountain News Media. Lauren is a passionate journalist with a love for travel, Formula 1 racing, snow sports and Sunday brunches. With a journalism background and more than a decade of experience in content creation, she loves the challenge in applying her skills to develop strong content marketing campaigns for advertisers in mountain resort markets.

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