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Please excuse us while we grab a can of Pepsi, send a message on our iPhone, sit down to watch some Netflix, enjoy a Big Mac, and use a lot of brands to illustrate the point of this introductory sentence. It’s no secret that brands are familiar territory, and they make great resources in regards to content marketing. However, there’s a certain finesse to making the connection between a tall glass of Kool-Aid and content marketing.

Know Your Audience and Use Brands They’ll Recognize

Gary Hyman asks several important questions in regards to content marketing. We’re going to look at two of them:

  • Who exactly is my audience?
  • What exactly does my audience want to learn?

Knowing your audience is key to your content marketing strategy, especially when it comes to using brands. There’s no limit as to what brands you can use, but it’s usually more beneficial if it’s a brand your audience can recognize. It also works to use brands that are popular at the time. For example, check out this article about “The Lego Movie” and content marketing. And this one. And this one. All of these came out around the time the movie was extremely popular. Whether the audience saw the movie didn’t matter because the movie itself was popular enough for them to at least know what it was. This strategy might not have worked so well if the movie hadn’t been making headlines at the time.

Explain Brands That Aren’t Readily Recognizable

Attack-on-Titan-Subaru

If you’re feeling sassy – and we can understand that, we have our bursts of sass every now and then – then you may want to use a brand that isn’t widely popular. For example: the Attack on Titan/Subaru commercial was a great marketing strategy because it combined two big marketing properties.

The problem with this example is that the only people who would really “get it” are anime fans. Car enthusiasts may get the reference, but only if they saw the Japanese commercial that’s being referred to. This isolates the people in our audience who only know anime through the Pokémon cards hanging from the end caps at Target.

So, let’s try that again:

The Attack on Titan/Subaru commercial was a great marketing strategy because it combined to big marketing properties. Attack on Titan is an extremely popular anime series where what’s left of humanity is fighting against giant, human-like creatures that have nearly wiped mankind out. In order to promote the series’ upcoming movie, it was combined with Subaru, showing off an action-packed car commercial where a motorist was driving away from these deadly creatures. This not only showed a tease to the movie, but it showed off the awesome power of the Subaru, creating a content marketing strategy that effectively benefited both brands.

Now that we’ve explained both brands and how they were used together, it will make more sense to our audience.

Relate the Brand to What You’re Saying

Let’s look at Hyman’s second question: what exactly does my audience want to learn? While it’s great to use brands in your marketing, a connection needs to be made so your audience can see why you’re using that brand to illustrate your point. You don’t

want to name drop for the sake of name dropping – like we did in the beginning of this article. The last thing you want is for your brand usage to feel forced. You want it to make sense.

Do the Research and Find the Sources to Support What You’re Saying

Why is this brand valuable to your content marketing? What have they accomplished, and furthermore, how are they effective toward content marketing. This is where, as Jeff Bullas says, research comes in. “Provide research backed facts wrapped up in a well-structured article whether it is a singular or multiple source and they are printed off (or emailed) and put in front of the managers and CEO’s eyeballs.” Sure, we can say that that commercial was a success, but our audience is going to want proof, like this Anime News Network article, which reports that the commercial was viewed more than five million times in four days.

Don’t Talk about the Brand Too Much

No matter how cool the brand is – trust us, “Attack on Titan” is cool – at the end of the day your central focus needs to be your content, not the brand. When using brands as examples in your content marketing, you don’t want to spend the entire time glorifying the brand. The brand is a tool while your content marketing strategy is the star of the show.