Sponsored Content, with Cheese

February 27, 2018

Imagine a world where you’re sitting at Jimmy John’s eating a sandwich. You take a bite, and bite right into a Jimmy John’s print ad that was stuffed inside the sandwich somehow. It reads, “Try Jimmy John’s today. Learn more.” Lunch tasted great until now, and your brand experience went from enjoyable ham and cheese to disgust.

Now imagine a world where you’re browsing an e-newsletter on your phone, and you come across a compelling headline labeled sponsored content. You click on it to read an article, but instead you find a hard-selling sales offer, “Try Dave’s Pesticides today. Learn more.”

One of these sounds crazy. The other happens every day.

The brand experience of eating a Jimmy John’s sandwich is based on sandwich metrics. Is the bread fresh? Is the lettuce crisp? At that intersection of location and time, tucking the aforementioned advertisement into the sandwich is a serious and weird mistake if you are a Jimmy John’s franchisee.

On the other hand, sponsored content’s brand experience is based on content metrics. Is the content relevant? What value does it provide? Does it meet expectations, based on the enticing headline? At this intersection of location and time, stuffing sales messages in front of customers who are expecting to learn something will backfire.

Success with sponsored content comes from living up to the hype. Use content to craft your brand story in an authentic way that brings value through information, trends, forecasts, industry updates and how-to’s. People remember great content when it delivers on its promise—and provides relevant and actionable information.