Selling native advertising and generating content ideas is often a demanding job. And what is the best way to do it? By responding to RFPs or being proactive? And how do you make sure that no one steals the brilliant idea that you worked so hard on?
We asked Branded Content Consultant & Founder of StoryFuel Melanie Deziel, who was a speaker at Native Advertising DAYS 2018.
The first thing you should do is to really look at the RFP. What is the key objective of the brand, what are they trying to accomplish?
What is the best process when brainstorming on an RFP?
The process is different from studio to studio, depending on the size, the different roles etc.
But generally speaking, you should get all those people coming up with ideas in a room for a brainstorming.
The first thing you should do is to really look at the RFP. What is the key objective of the brand, what are they trying to accomplish? You also want to think about budget and timing. What is actually realistic to accomplish in this time period? Because one great way to lose business is to pitch something that doesn’t fit the budget or can be accomplished in the time span that you have.
So you want to ask those important questions and make sure that what you’re coming up with is realistic. Also given the goal of the brand. If they are asking you to raise awareness, you shouldn’t pitch them a sales-focused idea.
Another important thing, I think, is to bring in people with different perspectives. Perhaps it’s someone from the design team, someone from your video team and someone from development.
They will have a different perspective, different ideas and different ways of approaching the same questions. The more diverse perspectives in the room, the better
Lastly, having someone to lead the brainstorm is a good idea. Because you don’t want to end up in an endless brainstorm going nowhere. You don’t want a million ideas and no decisions made. So have someone to lead the brainstorm, even if just for the sake of the brainstorm.
Proactive brainstorming is a great thing. Especially if you get pitches from the same kind of brands or the same categories very often.
Another way to sell native is to come up with creative ideas first and then try selling those ideas. What do you think about this way of working with pitches?
That is what you would call proactive pitches.
I have seen some proactive pitches come to life, but the advantage of an RFP is that you know that the brand is willing to create content and that they have the budget to create content.
When you do proactive pitching, you don’t always have that guarantee. You may have the best banking idea in the world, but if all the big banks have already spent their budget for the year, you won’t find that sponsor to back it up.
What I have found is that a combination of the can work. Where you come up with your great ideas and then you hold on to it until you actually get an RFP from a suitable client.
Of course, you don’t want it to be too generic, so you have to adapt it to make sure it fits into the RFP. But this proactive brainstorming is a great thing. Especially if you get pitches from the same kind of brands or the same categories very often.
Unfortunately, the way our industry works right now, coming up with ideas is the equivalent of filling out a job application for those jobs.
More publishers are concerned about responding to RFPs because they experience that their ideas never even gets in front of the brand clients or even get stolen. Do you have any suggestions for publishers that are in this situation?
I wish I could really help solve this problem because I do think it faces a lot of publishers.
From a creative perspective, especially, it can be very frustrating to put all your efforts into building an idea or coming up with a concept just to see it come to life by someone else’s hands. So I wish I could solve this problem.
But I think, unfortunately, the way our industry works right now, coming up with ideas is the equivalent of filling out a job application for those jobs. And if you want to get the job, you’ve got to fill it out. At least the way the market works right now.
The one solution I can come up with is that you can try to combat this by making your ideas so unique to your platform that it can’t live elsewhere. Whether you have a certain kind of technology, certain talents or are the only ones who can do it with a certain perspective.
It’s a bit like a recipe. Anybody can make a grilled cheese sandwich, but if your recipe has some little secret special something, people continue to come to your restaurant, because they can’t accomplish the same on their own at home.
But all in all, unfortunately, the environment right now requires us to give away ideas for free in hopes of gaining some business. So our best defence is really unique ideas.
You are an official speaker at this year’s Native Advertising DAYS. Why should attendees at the conference absolutely not miss your presentation about generating endless brand content ideas?
I’m trying something totally new this year, focused on idea generation. The session is going to be packed with tips on how to rapidly come up with good content ideas, and the goal is to have everyone leave with a whole heap of ideas as well as a framework they can take back to the brainstorms on their team.
What do you look forward to the most at this year’s Native Advertising DAYS?
Every year, native ad days is one of my favourite events. Everyone in the industry comes together to share and to learn and to connect. And that connection is so great: being surrounded by people who “get it” is so great for individuals in this industry. The more we share and connect, the better we can collectively raise the bar for our industry!