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Selling nothing with content

Content is about relationship building. It is not about selling.

The phrase above is not new to anyone. It is the foundation of high performance content.

Sometimes, as Mark Schaefer puts it in a recent article: “Most companies expect a coin-operated marketing department. You put coins in, you get more coins out. But if you do that with your content, you’re going to lose your audience … fast.”

And this is where content works best. You build relationships with your customers and your audiences, and when the time is right and it is relevant, you can sell to them, and actually expect a better conversion rate.

This is true for branded content, but also for branded integrations in our television productions at Toast.

We are currently in pre-production for a show that will integrate multiple brands and products, and the key is to keep just the right balance between visibility (which is equivalent to selling) and the content itself. The products need to be relevant and need to be integrated in a way that does not alienate the audience.

Whether you are a brand or a television broadcaster, the key is to balance the promotional aspect of the brands and products you work with and the desire of the audience to be informed, educated and entertained in the best possible way. They are NOT looking to be pitched yet another amazing product.

As Ron Tite put it: “People used to vote with their wallets. They now vote with their time.”

In other words, in the past you could pitch, pitch, pitch, without context, and people would eventually buy. But now, your goal is to make sure people spend as much time as possible with your brand, and that time spent with you will make them buy your pitch when the time comes.