In today’s media landscape, clients are searching for ways to get their message to the consumer. One of the best tools to effectively communicate a message to a consumer is branded content. But is your media company set up for success with selling it? What about executing the creative content? It’s time to set up your sales team with the tools they need to deliver and execute branded content for clients.

Josh Kaufman

Most media companies will use a creative services, news or production team to execute branded content. It’s important that the creative folks are part of the process and work directly with your client. Josh Kaufman, producer at broadcast management group, shares five tips that will help deliver for your client and increase chances of renewal.

This post is part of the first edition of a branded content guide for local media organizations, a playbook released by the Branded Content Project, a partnership between the Local Media Association, the Local Media Consortium and funded by the Facebook Journalism Project.

1. Develop definitions and terms

You can’t sell something if you don’t define what it is. Unlike a commercial, branded content can have several definitions. Even the term you use is important. How many of us have heard the terms news integration, product placement, vignette, sponsored content, native advertising, dark posts? Each of these terms are very different things and using them consistently and to describe the right solution for your client is of the utmost importance. Start by having your sales managers and creative service team define branded content and the types of content you’re willing to produce. And while you’re at it, you should define these other terms – news integration, product placement, etc. – for your media company too. Now you’re ready to talk with clients and have confidence in what you’re talking about. A sales team armed with an arsenal of easy to understand content options brings success and avoids confusion.

2. Listen to your client

Now that you have a good understanding of what branded content is, it’s time to listen to your clients. Media companies can offer dozens of solutions to advertisers including digital ads, native advertising, prime-time, news, event sponsorship and of course branded content. But just because branded content is the hot new trend, doesn’t mean it’s right for your client. What is your client looking to accomplish? What do they believe branded content is? Does it match up with your definition and are you willing to execute the content they describe? Branded content isn’t for everyone and not every creative idea is your company willing to execute. The sales team, and more importantly the creative team (more on them in a minute), must educate the client on the difference between what they may want and what you’re willing to do. This is when those definitions will come in handy and more importantly when showing examples of what you’ve done for other clients will help. In the end, educating a client, showing them what you can do and setting expectations will help bring a client on-board.

3. Get creative involved in the pitch

Now that you understand what your client wants and they understand the creative options you can deliver, it’s time to pitch them your winning plan. But account executives shouldn’t do this alone. When producing creative is involved in your pitch bring a producer with you. That’s because sellers sell and creative creates. Keeping these two things separate will drive success with clients. My experience shows that when sales talks with a client they feel like they’re being sold something. When a creative person talks to a client they get excited about the content and forget about paying for it. So bringing the creative person to the meeting to walk the client through the creative idea, it gets the client excited. Plus, the producer is better prepared to answer questions about how the creative will be produced and how a client will be part of it. This will make the job easier for sales. And last time I checked, selling is hard enough already and you might as well bring all the weapons you can to get a client to say YES!

4. You’ve sold it! Now get out of the way!

All that hard work has finally paid off. A client has signed off on your plan! You’re excited and immediately place the order into the traffic system and put your producer hat on! Remember, sellers sell and creative creates. Just like with the pitch, it’s important to separate the sales side with the creative side. It’s time to pass off your important client to the creative person and allow them to take the lead with executing the content, setting up content calls, production shoots and ultimately the review process. Let your client get excited to work with your creative team and as I always say “walk the red carpet” and forget about the cost. Producing content is fun and your client needs to experience this! It will only help when it comes time to talk with your client about renewing this deal for round two.

5. Re-enforce expectations

Remember Tip No. 1 when we defined branded content and other creative solutions you can offer clients? The reason you did that is to help set expectations about the creative and what you can offer. The creative process can take time and the branded content may not be ready for 6-8 weeks. Just like you were excited when the client said yes, a client was also excited to be part of the creative. But things change, clients forget branded content isn’t about them, their business may be experiencing a lack of sales or a colleague talks about a cool video they made for Facebook. It’s important throughout the process to set expectations and explain the type of content you are producing and WHY this is good for them. This can come from both the account executive and creative team


Remember this creative can be really exciting for a client. The process and their experience with it matter. Yes, the results from your media plan do matter, but the experience a client has with the creative team usually will play just as big of a role as the ROI when it comes to renewal. Whether it’s branded content or some other sort of creative, executing these tips will help lead to success for not only you, but your client as well. And happy clients means happy account executives.

The expert: JOSH KAUFMAN, Producer at Broadcast Management Group

Josh Kaufman is an award-winning content creator and branded content specialist. As Director of Programming/Production at Tribune Broadcasting’s Oak Brook Productions, Josh developed multiple content brands, including Chicago’s Best, S.E.E. Chicago and Living Healthy. Josh oversaw the brands and developed the strategy to incorporate sponsors into each through branded content, product placement and other innovative marketing solutions. For example, the Chicago’s Best brand went beyond linear TV to include content on digital, social and an iOS/Android App. Josh developed a strategic content plan that led to nearly 200-thousand followers on social media and a YouTube
channel with 250-thousand subscribers and more than 2-million monthly video views. This initiative helped drive new revenue streams for WGN-TV

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Catch another planning article from the branded content guide – 6 reasons why you need branded content now

What’s your game plan?

What’s in the guide? The pages are filled with advice for those creating their first branded content initatives, those who are leading sales teams who have branded content in their toolbox, and those that are creating content for advertisers and looking for best practices and techniques. The articles in the guide are written by experts in the branded content space who have built impressive programs and are able to share strategies to help you navigate through this unique and sometimes complicated area of potential business. We’ve also included checklists geared toward sales, content, and development to start and grow your initiatives.

Take a tour through the guide to get action plans, step-by-step instructions, advice, and recommendations. And don’t forget to check out the checklists before you get started.

If you are taking your first step into branded content or giving your program a refresh, take a deeper look into our “SELLING IT” section and get actionable advice from branded content experts.