Understanding Content Marketing means understanding many things. Like what content marketing is. What advertising is. What happens when you add content marketing to your advertising. If you are like millions of people learning to hone in on your marketing skills, this article will dive into the world of content marketing and help you understand the difference when you advertise without content focus (intentionally) vs when you advertise with content focus.

Understanding Content Marketing is that important!

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing content that’s valuable, relevant, consistent, educational, and attractive. The focus on this content is to get in front of the ‘right’ audience and keep their focus, resulting in the ultimate goal of driving revenue. Advertising is a strategic way of describing or drawing attention to a product, service, event, opening, brand, etc. in a public medium. The goal is to promote sales, attendance, awareness, etc. These may sound the same but they aren’t. They aren’t mutually exclusive either. You can have advertising without content marketing. Some marketing campaigns do that quite well (think Old Spice and their ‘Smell Like a Man’ campaign.) You can have content marketing without advertising. This last sentence may have blown your mind a bit. Understanding this statement requires diving in to understand some concepts, and differences, of each.

Understanding Content Marketing

Before we get too far, we want to point out that Shine Consulting specializes in content marketing, and developing content marketing for advertising. Content marketing is rapidly becoming the norm for marketing strategy for small business because of its cost efficiency and ROI potential. Many companies will never have the advertising budget to make non-content marketing ads like Old Spice, Dollar Shave Club, Dos Equis, etc. We’re going to take the long way to get to our point, but if you want to quickly summarize where we’re headed, it’s this: Content marketing can be viewed as advertisements on crack, or in a nicer way, advertising with added value. Let’s help you understand content marketing!

Traditional Advertising vs. Content Marketing

What do you think of when you hear of “traditional advertising?” We’re guessing you think of mediums like a billboard, radio, television commercial, PPC (pay per click), print ads/magazine. Even pop-ups, email campaigns, and product placements are forms of advertising. Less specific ways to grab your attention and point you to the product, service, etc that best suits your needs…without giving you lots of information and/or education. Traditional advertising can also be in the political world, it is an election year after all. Politicians making the rounds to share their ideas is advertising. You’re getting some of the important bits but no in-depth description of their plans to fix the world. A teaser trailer is a great example of advertising, whereas a lengthy piece of a documentary containing a lot of details is content marketing. See the difference? Let’s keep digging to understand content marketing!

So why is traditional advertising falling to content marketing? Several reasons, actually. A big reason…It’s expensive. Most businesses cannot afford long-term significant advertising efforts. Many struggles to afford short-term targeted advertising efforts. How many companies can really afford prime-time television spots or worse, Super Bowl spots? Not many, and that’s why content marketing is excelling. Content marketing is aimed at pointing your target audience to more information through mediums that are more affordable. How much less does it cost to do podcasting, blogging, social media marketing, SEO, and leverage video technology? A lot less expensive. Though TV advertising isn’t always “expensive” it isn’t always right for all customers. We’ve seen good and effective TV ads for $1,000 a month. For the right business who has the right target audience strategy, it can yield a great ROI. See what we did there, though, we added content marketing because you’ll need that to get your money back on TV ads. Unless, of course, you’re Old Spice, Dollar Shave Club, or Dos Equis and can afford big ad budgets that have zero content marketing. Not many companies can afford campaigns, especially ones that don’t put the product’s front and center. That’s why content marketing is a growing force that’s becoming more critical than ever to business owners. We don’t often have million dollar budgets. Are you tired of us pointing out the importance of understanding content marketing? Hope not, there’s more coming!

One of the most successful marketing campaigns in the last 10 years. Smell Like A Man is an advertisement that doesn’t focus on the product, and it features no content marketing. It is, however, a very successful campaign targeted to the right audience. Women purchase body care products in 80+% of households and featuring fantasy, combined with memorable humor, makes this ad campaign so successful.

The key to understanding content marketing is understanding what it should do when done correctly. Content marketing should educate, inspire, entertain, tell a story. 3/4 or more of your content marketing should be focused on allowing your target audience to find the information they’re looking for, and showcase you so they know you’re the best choice. Through this education comes the desire to purchase. If your content is high quality and to the right audience, your content won’t need to be focused on selling in order to actually promote sales. Understanding content marketing is in understanding that it promotes the fundamentals of being trustworthy, likable, of the right quality, and a subject matter expert. When your potential customers see they can trust you, they like you, and they see you know your stuff, revenue is the next step in the process that will come naturally. Traditional advertising is a one-off campaign that runs short term. Unless you have a big budget and some insane PR, you’re likely going to be better benefited from content marketing. These strategies are more long-term efforts, like consistently publishing blogs with quality content, leveraging SEO and social media marketing.

Understanding Content Marketing

We also believe that content marketing creates more interaction which can lead to greater engagement. Leveraging social media brings a high level of engagement. Blogging gives people the opportunity to engage with you in a different medium. The traditional advertisement is more of an attention-grabbing initiative whereas content marketing provides more opportunity for engagement, both short term, and long-term. One of the biggest advantages to understanding content marketing: If your customers have the perception that you, as a brand, are listening and communicating with them, not to them, they’re going to be more loyal to your brand. Brand loyalty is important because you don’t make money on your first customer (The Value of Target Audience Marketing)

“In the early 2000s, I was in control of a $250,000 Google AdWords campaign — and I loved it. Within 24 hours of writing a text ad and a landing page, I could see results, adjust, measure, and repeat…It was a fast-paced, accurate way to learn about what worked and what didn’t…Of course that was not my money, and you may only be able to budget $200 a month toward Facebook ads, but the cost may be worth the results.”  Demian Farnworth, Chief Content Writer, Rainmaker Digital

We put this quote in here because it’s important to note. Your budget is probably not unlimited, so your campaign needs to be leveraged around what actually works. Not everyone will have a budget that large to simply advertise. Your budget for content marketing and SEO may be a few hundred a month. This always needs to be kept in mind when your marketing strategies are being designed/created. If you have the budget for aggressive advertising, you’ll get faster and greater results, when including the right content marketing. If your budget isn’t affording you to advertise aggressively, you need to be focused on content marketing. This is why we stress the importance of understanding content marketing.

Betterment.com is a newer company with a short and sweet 30-second ad with lots of content marketing focus. This is a great example of putting the product front and center only by providing education and information on the product. This generated millions of unique web hits for the tech investment company by providing valuable education that was easy to digest, with a simple call to action.

Content marketing can provide additional value to your brand that traditional advertising cannot give you alone. With content marketing, you can build a community. Leveraging social media can give you this when you leverage everything together properly. This will also improve your search engine ranking. By having the right content, on the right mediums, working together correctly, you’ll be found more often. More importantly, you’ll be found by the customers that are best for you. Content marketing is also a great way to help you distinguish your brand from the others in your industry. We could work with 4 real estate agents in the same year but all are different and all have a different skill set with a different approach to things. Separating yourself and ensuring you get in front of the ‘right’ people will yield the best results, long-term.

We hope it’s much clearer now as to why understanding content marketing is so important!