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StackAdapt and MuteSix—Part 2: Content Marketing in Highly Competitive Markets

With established or legacy brands, those who have been around for 20-30 years, they also need to upgrade to the 21st century.

StackAdapt sat down with Jesse DeBear, Vice President of Digital Strategy and Client Success at MuteSix for a Q&A on the importance of content marketing for competitive products.

StackAdapt (SA): We spoke previously about content marketing and native advertising, how do the two relate to products in highly competitive markets?

Jesse DeBear (JDB): Well, to recap a little bit, native advertising works well with content marketing because it is meant to send traffic to related pieces of information and educate users before the final buying stage. Keeping that in mind, for products in highly competitive spaces, this combination is beneficial. Before the consumer starts researching a product and gets stuck in either your funnel, or your competitor’s, you want to provide a story that will keep them engaged. You want to introduce them to the product or service they’ve shown interest in, and have them stay within your funnel. One of the best ways to leverage content marketing is to include video assets. Imagery and content is great but everything is becoming very video centric. Show your product in action to provide a first hand experience for your audience. You will have a much better case for why your product is better over others.

SA: How might a company go up against their competitor(s)?

JDB: With competing products, especially those that have many options available, it’s difficult for the consumer to figure out which one is the right choice. Products become less unique in a competitive space, so you need to find a way to differentiate them; content can be cleverly used to achieve this. Creating a comparison chart is a very direct way of explaining your advantages. There are, however, more discrete ways of doing so—tactics that are more content focused and less like a direct sales pitch. For example, write an article about how your brand compares to others, with a top 5 product list. All the products in the category might be great, but your brand is ranked number 1, and you explain why. Since you’ve identified your brand as the best option, why wouldn’t they choose it, especially if the price points are similar? You don’t necessarily need a lot of information or explanation, but you need something to push them over the edge from a different brand in the same product group.

SA: Can you provide an example?

JDB: An example that comes to mind is the trend of natural deodorant brands that continue to pop up. These brands need to establish the ingredients as the differentiating factors along with perhaps the health benefits of the product. Another example might be legacy food brands going up against more healthy or organic options. The healthy consumer audience is growing and they are not looking for the Krafts or the Oscar Meyers of the world—they’re looking for organic and natural products. The original food products from these legacy brands are now competing with higher price point, small brands on the shelf. In order to stay in the race, these big players need to use content to demonstrate how their products are ideal for audiences that don’t typically buy them and speak to the different diets and eating routines consumers have.

SA: How do disruptors fit into this space?

JDB: Disruptors are adding competition because they do something different. I think it’s easiest to explain with finance. Finance is so legacy and there are so many companies involved, a disruptor in the industry can really shake things up. Consider personal finance and trading accounts. Companies are used to people going to the big guys like Schwab or TD Ameritrade, but then Robin Hood lands on the scene and changes everything for the younger demo. They’re targeting millennials, not the average trading faces the other companies have traditionally worked with. These new brands offer an app, free trading and streamlined usage of the product. With lots of content and video, they remove the clutter of how people traditionally buy stocks to target millennials that don’t know anything about trading or stocks. They are not taking people away from the existing brand, but they are capturing new people that don’t usually trade, disrupting the traditional concept of the audience group and opening the possibility for much larger reach.

SA: How might this process differ between startups and more established brands?

JDB: It really depends on the product, but the process doesn’t really differ too much. Some start up products are great and will do well, but really need a user experience that’s sellable. People are not going to buy a great product from a really poorly made website. There needs to be enough content, whether it be user generated, video ads, or reviews to speak to the credibility and success of the product. With established or legacy brands, those who have been around for 20-30 years, they also need to upgrade to the 21st century. They’re somewhat stuck in their ways and they are comfortable with the tactics that have worked so well for so long. We need to get them to pivot and adapt to the digital space. Late night commercials still exist. Some of the products, such as Proactiv, are meant for a younger audience like teenagers, but this audience is likely not watching late night television anymore. Instead, they’re on YouTube and Snapchat. These companies need to realize that if they are going to stick to the core demographic, they need to make changes to the channels they advertise on in order to stay relevant.

SA: How does Public Relations (PR) fit into this, if at all?

JDB: PR is really the original form of content marketing. With native advertising, you can pay for the traffic going to your content without a dedicated PR rep. You are your own publisher now and you can post your own articles on your website. This is actually exactly how the influencer industry came to be. People have become their own content creators without the middleman, and they can advocate for and talk about products on a variety of platforms easily and, much of the time, for free. That said, PR still exists. I’m not going to be able to host my own editorial without a contact at one of those publishing companies. Especially for those larger brands, PR is still very important. For smaller companies, they need to be a bit more scrappy and that’s where programmatic comes into play. They can create their own content and pay through native advertising channels to drive people to it.

In case you missed Part 1 of our Q&A with Jesse, you can read it here: StackAdapt and MuteSix—Part 1: The Importance of Content Marketing for Complex Products

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