External content creators, part two: branding

If you missed the first post in this series, I’m looking at four concerns that companies may have about contracting with external content creators. These four concerns were identified by Andrew Wheeler, CEO of Skyword, who addressed each one in turn.

In this post series, I will augment Wheeler’s responses with some thoughts of my own.

The concern

The second concern Andrew Wheeler raised in his article was the following:

They’ll never “get” our brand like we do

This differs from expertise. It’s one thing to have the expertise that a company needs. It’s another thing to know how companies do things.

I’ll choose an example well outside of my areas of expertise to make the point. Specifically, I’ll talk about insurance companies.

Would someone explain to me why multiple insurance companies choose to air ads in which the spokespeople are intentionally annoying? There’s one company that makes a big point about how annoying its white-clothed female spokesperson is. Another insurance company has a spokesperson referred to as “mayhem.” And then there’s the company that used to feature the performing voice of Gilbert Gottfried; if you are not familiar with his voice, it’s not smooth and calming.

Other insurance companies have adopted an older, more traditional branding approach that hearkens back to Allstate’s old “you’re in good hands” or State Farm’s “like a good neighbor.” New York Life still maintains this more soothing approach.

From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMaQetarGsY

What if an external content creator approached a company with the wrong branding tone? “Your lifestyle commercial is BORING. Here’s my pitch for an ad with an emu and a gecko who are seriously injured in a major automobile accident!”

That pitch meeting wouldn’t end well.

What Andrew Wheeler said

Here’s an excerpt from the post:

Making sure a partner is well-versed in your brand is both a process and a two-way street. 

From https://www.skyword.com/contentstandard/the-truth-about-trusting-external-content-partners/

It’s a two-way street because the company has to communicate to the freelancer its branding standards, while the freelancer has to research the company to get a feel for how the company communicates.

What I say

So how do you make sure this required communication happens?

By allocating time for it at the beginning of the project.

On occasion I’ve described the process that Bredemarket uses when kicking off a project with its clients. I start by providing a high-level overview.

Bredemarket’s content creation process ensures that the final written content (a) advances your GOAL, (b) communicates your BENEFITS, and (c) speaks to your TARGET AUDIENCE. It is both iterative and collaborative.

From https://bredemarket.com/2021/08/04/revising-bredemarkets-content-creation-process/

When I drill down into the content creation process itself, here is how I describe the kickoff meeting with the client.

You and Bredemarket agree upon the topic, goal, benefits, and target audience (and, if necessary, outline, section sub-goals, relevant examples, and relevant key words/hashtags, and interim and final due dates).

From https://bredemarket.com/2021/08/04/revising-bredemarkets-content-creation-process/

Agreement upon the branding strategy can fall into this initial discussion, perhaps when talking about the goal of the content. If the goal is to gently reassure potential clients that the service will ease their burdens, then the content will take one approach. If the goal is to shock and amuse potential clients with a stronger call to action, then you’ll use the mayhem guy.

Regardless of your process, it’s important to communicate and reach agreement on the critical things at the beginning of the project. This saves expensive rework later in the project.

Time to move on to the third concern, “we’ll lose accountability and quality control.

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