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Remember learning about the five Ws back in grammar school? Who, what, when, where, and why are key foundational questions used to gather information to tell an effective story.

As branded content strategists, we utilize the five Ws to craft an effective plan that delivers on client asks and reaches our audience in a way that’s impactful. The result? Happy clients who come back for more.

Here’s a look at the five Ws of building a branded content strategy ““ how it works, and why it matters.


Beyond what sounds “cool” or “fun,” we think about what works for the audience the business wants to reach. For instance, while virtual reality is one of the most innovative and engaging ways to tell a story, if we’re looking to target over the age of 65, a demographic least likely to own a smartphone, should we create a campaign that would require them to download an app to view our content? Partnering our business mindset with our creative brain, we strategize on if the product fits the need of the audience.

Related: 12 Questions to Ask to Identify Your Target Audience


What budget are we working with? We want to present ideas that are going to work most efficiently within the scope of the spend. If the investment level for the campaign is on the lower end of things, rather than spread the opportunity too thin by producing a 10-part series in three months, it’s more strategic to focus on quality content that delivers on business objectives versus high volume.


When will this campaign run, and how long would the client like to partner with us? Much of our audience comes to us for news and information, so we aim to align business owner content with timely themes where and when it makes sense.

For example: a grocery store wants to run a winter campaign highlighting its wide variety of locally-sourced produce. Winter is peak cold and flu season, so inserting these offerings into a timely conversation about the best fruits and vegetables to boost your immune system is relevant for our audience and delivers on the store’s awareness goals. A winning combination.

Timing also informs how many pieces of content we recommend running. If a business wants a month-long campaign, suggesting six articles wouldn’t make sense ““ they’d end up competing with one another. Giving each piece more time to perform will yield stronger numbers.


Where does the business want their branded content to run? We want to ensure there’s enough promotion behind each piece we propose, so this information helps inform our strategy. Recommending the right placement to business owners and marketers is an integral part of building a successful branded content strategy. To determine this, we take targeting, share of voice, scale, and strategy into consideration.

For example: a dentist in Nashville wants to publish on USATODAY.com instead of Tennessean.com. The goal of the campaign is to generate awareness for the practice ““ and the client likes the idea of being featured on a recognizable site like USATODAY.com. However, doing so actually dilutes the local expert voice for the dentist’s business ““ and engagement won’t be nearly as strong. On the other hand, for a large grocery brand found in many markets and regions, it does make sense to publish on USATODAY.com.


This is an important one: Why does the business want to run branded content with us? Based on this answer, we craft a convincing strategy that proves how branded content will help achieve the goals they’ve laid out for us.

If the business owner is hoping to shift brand perception, we may recommend telling a personal story through video that creates an emotional connection between the client and our audience. If it’s clicks to their site, we’ll propose a series of short articles that drive readers to their site to learn more. If the goal is to position the brand as a leader in their industry, a quote-driven article that leverages the expertise of a key employee is a strong play. For businesses that want readers to understand their role in a complex category, visually-driven interactives and infographics help break these topics down in a way that’s easy to understand.

Related: Brand Stories Matter & Need to be Told


Often, with branded content, we think we should pitch the creative concept first and figure out the pricing logistics later. But when we marry thoughtful business with innovative content, pitching concepts without a media plan can be like leading the cart before the horse. Taking the time to consider a business’s goals from all angles helps our team build a branded content strategy that performs well.

To learn more about branded content or to work with one of our specialists to build a strategy that helps your business get in front of new audiences, contact us today.

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