This article is part of a series of interviews that NAI has conducted with brands all over the world who are focusing on content marketing and native advertising as part of their marketing strategy.
Please reach out if you want to add your brand to the series.
"For us, being a digital bank that wants to build trust, that wants to have a dialogue with our customers, content marketing and native advertising just seems to be the right way to go," says Jeppe Madsbad Lauritzen, Nordic Marketing Manager at Santander Consumer Bank Denmark - a digital bank with a big business in car loans and consumer loans.
That's shy Santander is now creating valuable content for their customers on their own platforms. But, as Jeppe Madsbad Lauritzen says, you can't just have great content. You need to incorporate paid distribution into your marketing strategy.
We interviewed him when he was a speaker at Native Advertising DAYS 2017.
Below are highlights from the interview that have been slightly edited for clarity.
It's all about entering the dialogue at a much earlier stage in order to be present when business arrives.
We have changed our approach from a traditional funnel to trying a more circular setup. A good example is that if you want to have a dialogue about a car loan with a given family, you shouldn't engage in the dialogue when the family is googling "cheap car loan".
Instead, you should initiate a dialogue at a much earlier stage. For example with an article saying: "Are you in the market for a new Stationcar? We have tested the four latest models - find out what will suit you the best."
Then you've started a dialogue where you actually become part of the research process. And as we know, a very big part of the decision is actually made way before you start contacting providers for offers.
So I think it's all about entering the dialogue at a much earlier stage in order to be present when business arrives.
You have fewer and fewer possibilities to actually talk to and inspire your customers.
We know from research that 71 percent of the decision process is actually made before you contact any providers for an actual offer.
We know that 96 percent of people who visit your website for the first time are not ready to buy at that moment.
So it's very obvious that they are in a research fase where you have all the good chances to enter into a dialogue concerning their needs.
We also know, specifically for the car business, that in Norway you will visit 1.3 car dealers on average before you buy a car. That means that a lot of people will not be at the car dealer before they are picking up their new car.
That again underlines the important message that you have fewer and fewer possibilities to actually talk to and inspire your customers. So when you have them, you better be ready and you better know exactly where you want to take them.
If you start out with an honest, kind, inspiring dialogue, I think the consumers are ready to receive that from a commercial side.
At Santander, we've built a blog on our website where we'll pull traffic across social media, Google, etc.
On that blog, we distribute articles, videos, etc. themed within areas that make sense -- first and foremost for our consumer. But, of course, we are trying to take them on a journey that could end up in our products.
So for us, having a big business in car loans and consumer loans, the content is about cars and personal economy. It's about actually understanding what the different phrases mean when you take a loan. And then we also talk about holidays, etc. All situations where someone might consider a loan.
The consumers will know that we are in this to grant loans and make money that way. But if you start out with an honest, kind, inspiring dialogue, I think the consumers are ready to receive that from a commercial side.
If we talk about choosing the right car then people will know that our interest is to finance it. We don't care whether we finance a Volkswagen, or a Honda, or a Mitsubishi. So they will see us as being in an honest dialogue where we are trying to inspire them to make the right choice
That's the difference between the good waiter - being native advertising based on the customers' needs and understanding the situation...
In order to make people understand the essence of native advertising done well, I tend to use this example of the good and the bad waiter. We have all met them in restaurants.
The good waiter is the one who understands that you are there to have a good time with your boyfriend, or girlfriend, or whoever you are having dinner with. He will listen and he will be there when you need him. And you'll be in no doubt that he is there to sell you the wine menu, or an extra coffee, or whatever. But you will be perfectly happy with that because he becomes a positive addition to your night.
And if you're really happy then you'll not only pay for all the expensive stuff he sells you, but you will also tip him when you leave the restaurant.
The bad waiter is the one that we've also met. Who is annoying, disturbing, brings the wrong food and doesn't listen to your needs. He is just trying to sell. We have probably all experienced those waiters in very touristic areas. They live by the fact that tomorrow there will be new tourists. But they won't be able to keep up a good connection with their audience.
That's the difference between the good waiter - being native advertising based on the customers' needs and understanding the situation, still while having a commercial agenda and wanting to sell something - and the bad waiter being the new form of annoying display advertising that everybody will try to avoid and that the ad blocker will also figure out how to block.
I see a lot of examples of really good content that just don't get out there because it's not distributed right.
We are, of course, tracking how different kinds of content perform and I think it's very important to say that the distribution part is almost just as important as the content. Of course, even though you have the best distribution in the world, it won't work with bad content.
But I see a lot of examples of really good content that just don't get out there because it's not distributed right.
I think the illusion of the viral stuff that everybody has just seen all of a sudden is probably becoming a myth now because the content distribution is controlled so hard by commercial platforms like Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc.
You have to realize that even though you're doing the best content in the world, and you are following it all the way and are ready to change the headline or whatever, the paid distribution will become a more and more important part of the game.
Of course, as a brand, you can to try and establish a direct contact with your audience and keep this going without Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc. But it will be more and more difficult.
And all your competitors will probably start doing nice content as well. But the consumers won't get more time to consume content. Then, distribution will be an important parameter when competing to get through with your message.
As I used to say: when everybody's doing perfect content, then distribution will be king. So I think, as a marketeer, you have to be aware of distribution as a field.
And native advertising, where you're not only distributing but actually find yourself being part of the media platform is a good way to do that.
Hopefully, it's also about good ideas and creativity, great tactics of distribution, knowing your target group, etc. But money will be a part of the game. Hopefully, though, creativity will be the one that really sets the game.
Want more from Jeppe Madsbad Lauritzen? He shares his thoughts on native advertising in 2018 in our ebook "36 Predictions for Native Advertising in 2018".
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