Melanie Deziel | Branded Content Consultant & Speaker

Category: Uncategorized

Courting Your Customers With Content

I make a lot of analogies when I talk about content strategy to try to make it more relatable, and relationship and dating analogies seem to work well. (One of my previous blog posts, which used Tinder as a framework to help you Swipe Right on the best practices and Swipe Left on common mistakes continued to be a favorite.)

These analogies seem to work particularly well when we think about content as a way to build a relationship with customers.

In a way, buying banner ads or making incredibly sales focused content is like walking in to a bar and proposing to everyone you meet, the moment you meet them. You assume that merely because they showed up to the same bar, they’re qualified and that they’ll be open to your invitation. You can almost feel the hot sting of rejection that would follow a swift slap on the side of your face.

And sure, you can keep proposing to everyone you pass. And maybe… eventually… someone will actually take you up on it and come home with you. But the chances of them being the right person, who sticks around and creates the long-term value you’re dreaming of, is pretty small.

Your chances of entering a healthy long-term customer relationship are much higher if you put in the effort to build the relationship, nurture the connection and lay the proper groundwork before going in for the proposal.

It’s not all about you. You need to listen to your consumers, both the things they explicitly tell you and they things they shouldn’t have to. Read the comments, take the calls, and take a long, hard look at the data. See high bounce rates on content like someone leaving a date early: was it something you said? Nobody accepting your invitation to click through to your content? Maybe you need a more compelling invitation, or a more compelling party to invite people to.

Give them gifts
Maybe not flowers and chocolate (although that’s nice too) but you should be offering your potential customers valuable information, resources, discounts, access to events, and entertaining content. You should be offering something that’s more for them than for you, showing you care about them and their happiness, that you respect their time and money, and that you want to be additive to their life. With brands as with friendships and dating, those are the people we keep around.

Put in the time
Like fine wine, saplings and caterpillars, some things take time to teach their true potential. Customer relationships are one of those things. A great first impression or interaction is just the beginning, a first date that went well. To keep that relationship growing in loyalty and value, you need to continue to cultivate it over time. Keep showing up. Keep bringing value. Keep listening.

Adventures in Year One

This year has been an incredible one, with much more travel and adventure than I could have possibly imagined when I started this venture back in the beginning of 2016. I decided to take a look back at the numbers to see what the year really brought.


In each of the cities I visited, I took a photo on Snapchat, with the geo-filter enabled, to help catalogue my travels. Check out this slideshow of the last 12 months of adventures!

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Introducing “Studio Spotlight,” with launch partner T Brand Studio

Several months ago, I started to think about ways that I could bring even more value to the subscribers of my native advertising newsletter, The Overlap League. Up until now, the list had been entirely un-monetized and un-marketed to—a pure passion project focused on educating and connecting people in the native ad industry. But with limited resources and time, I wasn’t sure if I could expand the offering without support from advertisers.

The Overlap League audience is savvy and has very specific interests, which limited the number of sponsors who would be a fit, and I didn’t want to validate their trust by providing anything off-topic or off-brand.

The only way I could introduce sponsorships or marketing opportunities to this audience—I knew—would be to do it transparently and in a way that brought as much value as the regular issues of the newsletter. It had to be the perfect marriage of advertisers that my audience wanted to learn more about, and information that would provide them value.

The solution needed to be truly native. And I believe it is.

A Studio Spotlight is a sponsored issue of the newsletter, wherein all the news, examples, jobs and other information are curated in partnership and with a focus on a single content studio. The goal: To provide the knowledge-hungry TOL audience with insider information about the teams, creators and work they know and respect, while giving those same teams and creators a chance to speak directly to the audience most interested in learning more about their process, achievements and the myriad ways to work with them.

Let’s face it — To have anyone but T Brand Studio as the sponsor of the first “Studio Spotlight” Special Issue would have been unnatural. You can check out the web version of T Brand Studio’s “Studio Spotlight” issue here.

(And if you’re not yet subscribed to the newsletter, be sure to sign up here so you get future issues.)

As many of you know, I got my start as an Editor of Branded Content at T Brand Studio, where I wrote the “Women Inmates” piece for Netflix and the “Grit & Grace” piece for Cole Haan, among others. I felt honored to work with and learn from the talented folks at NYT, many of whom are still there today.

It’s been incredible to see the continued growth of both the studio itself and its body of work, and to watch as the T Brand Studio team continuously raises the bar on what great native advertising should be.

To learn more about sponsoring a Studio Spotlight issue, check out the sponsorship details page, watch the video walk-though of a sponsored issue, and reach out at