These are the questions you should be asking an advertiser before writing their branded content

By: David Arkin
December 19, 2023
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Well, what exactly would you write about?

It’s hands down the No. 1 question that pops up when discussing the idea of branded content with an advertiser. While the distribution and pricing is important, understanding what you’re actually going to write about an advertiser’s brand is what gets someone excited about the idea of partnering.

When working with an advertiser, we spend a lot of time understanding their business and needs to come up with a lineup of stories that will effectively tell their unique story. The more creative the approach, the better the content usually is.

🤝 Build a relationship with the advertiser

Some content strategists play a role in the sales process when it comes to branded content and it can be very helpful. While a sales rep should know enough about the program they are selling and generally the kinds of content that the media company can provide, it provides quite a bit of added value for the advertiser to be paired with a content expert to brainstorm the potential topics that can be covered. This process always gets the relationship headed in a very positive direction. Whether that happens before a sale is made or is the first step to occur after a contract is signed, there are a few important things a content strategist should be doing with the advertiser.

Here they are:

✍️ 1. What’s their story? While the sales rep is obviously very aware of the advertiser’s background and business, it’s always a good idea for the content strategist to ask about the business’s story. First, most business owners love sharing how they got started, but secondly, a content strategist is likely to hear things in that story that could make for great content. It’s a good way of getting the advertiser engaged right away as a good content strategist will ask follow up questions about the business’s history and success.

🤷 2. What are customers asking? I love asking advertisers what questions people email them, call them about or send via Facebook. This tells you quite a bit about topics that could be relevant to others and probably phrases that others are searching for in Google. Another good probing question is what friends ask them about their business at a kid’s soccer game or a holiday party.

Bonus tip:Before you ask this question, spend some time in Google Search Trends and SEO tools to understand what people are searching for around their industry.

📈 3. Why are they doing this campaign? Understanding what their goals are is of course important, but this question helps really get under what they need to address. That might be that they need a different form of delivery to market their message or that they are not comfortable going on video and want a subject matter expert to interview them.

🚀 4. Who can we write about? People like reading about people and if we can find a way to humanize a story around their business, we often will have a homerun. Ask for success stories and always try to take their expertise and apply it to a specific use case where someone actually benefited from their service. These are the stories that will have the most engagement.

❤️ 5. Why do people love them? This helps focus on what they do well and how to build on it. You have to move beyond general statements like “people love our customer service,” into specific examples and results but it helps shape some focus for the stories you might write.

A question I’d encourage you to never ask is: What do you want your stories to be about? They may have a sense of a topic, but going through these questions helps get under what will have the greatest impact and be most interesting to the audience. And that’s not always the story they had in mind. It’s your job as a content strategist to pull that out.

This is an area that’s very much in our wheelhouse and we provide this service to clients across the country. Email me today at so I can tell you more about our branded content program.

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