Pull the Plug: The Value of Unbranded Content

Take a look at your company content: recent white papers, technical notes, blog posts — even your website pages. How many of them mention your company name, products or services within the first sentence or two?

If you’re guilty of leading with a company plug, you’re not alone. Most of us grew up in the era of direct marketing. Content was printed for tradeshows or submitted to media outlets. They were standalone documents that needed to quickly convey who and what your company did. The divide between marketing and journalism was large; we wrote subjectively and we wrote about us.

Times have changed. Technology now allows us to link to other material, monitor page visits and engagement. We can host our own media platforms, with our own editorial guidelines. Alongside contact forms and marketing automation, this all sets the stage for a lasting customer relationship. Direct marketing has become content marketing: we’re in it for the long game.

What’s the problem?

Your company has a lot of valuable knowledge and industry expertise. You can be a thought-leader, offering real support to both your customers and a wider audience. Content is a great way to build this relationship — but it can be undermined if you put your company front and center.

Content that is branded visually, or through the language, is immediately perceived by readers as “marketing material.” If they read on, they do so with a filter – knowing the material is subjective and intended to be persuasive.

Promoting your products or services upfront can also restrict your audience. If you’re selling a pipette, nearly every scientist is a potential client – yet only a fraction of them will be looking to buy a new instrument at that point in time. If you discuss your pipette, you’ll get some traction. But if you instead evaluate a range of instrument features, with best practices for use, you can earn the trust of a much wider audience. This pays off with leads and conversions today, next month and next year.

Change the focus

The good news is that your content can be readily re-purposed. The same white paper or blog post could be made a genuine resource if your team can exchange your company branding for some in-depth customer focus.


Empathizing with your customers’ challenges. Make it clear in the opening sentences that you deeply understand the issues they face. This will position your product as a solution when you do introduce it toward the end of the document, or in an entirely separate piece of content.


Presenting a balanced view. Content marketing is also known as brand journalism – for a very good reason. MarCom increasingly covers the journalism space, as media outlets cut back on staff and readers want content for free. To produce high-value content, you need to be your own editor. Position your products and services in a good light, but without expressing biased views.

Pay it forward

Direct marketing with overt branding still has its place. However, it’s unlikely to grow your audience and sales funnel if it’s not paired with early-stage unbranded content. Pay it forward. Don’t market at people; draw them in with engaging resources, addressing real challenges in the industry. Follow up with targeted emails and advertisements, as you move that lead further down the buyer’s journey.

For more content marketing tools and tactics, give our content team a holler through our contact page.

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