As champions of inbound marketing, it's not going to come as a surprise that we tell our clients to take a long-term approach to their marketing. But beyond the obvious, we frequently see similar patterns:
1. "I need to advertise now to get people through the door/to my site/signing contracts."
2. "Business (or the economy) is good. I can back off advertising." (Or sometimes they never got started on it in the first place.)
Traditional advertising and marketing come in a few categories:
Call to Action/Push - Drive sales immediately with commercials, spots and ads designed to boost sales. Discounts, rewards, sales and more also fall into this category. (Oh, and by the way—why does everything go on sale on President's Day?)
Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA) - Activities designed to stay at the top of your customers' minds when it comes time to make a decision. Jingles are famously used as a way to help a brand stick with someone—think the Lebeda Mattress jingle. (You're welcome.)
Build Something That Lasts
Content marketing is something that is built upon, over time, and has a cumulative effect. While traditional advertising does serve a purpose, the problem is that once it's done, it's done. The TV and radio commercial flights end. The newspaper gets recycled. Even in digital, if you run banners or PPC ads, when the budget is out, they no longer perform.
A wider strategy builds a content library that "lives" on so that over time, as your target audience searches for a service or product like yours, it becomes less dependent on whether you have the budget to run ads, and more dependent on whether you answered their pain point effectively and showed up in their internet search—and how effectively you nurtured the sale.
Traditional or Content: Either/Or?
Traditional advertising is more effective when it's a part of a longer-term content marketing strategy. Instead of cutting a commercial, plan and shoot for a video or series of videos that helps your customer or client make a decision. Then cut your commercial from that. Or write your radio script based on your larger content strategy. And instead of selling, aim to help your audience find a solution, and position your offering appropriately.
When you place digital ads, create a landing page designed to convert, and then make it something that can be found beyond your PPC budget. Use the landing page in your social promotions and in answer to questions in forums.
If you're placing a print ad, make sure you're using quality, compelling imagery that you can also use for a blog post, for a social media posting, on your website or in your email marketing efforts. Commit to original, professional photography and make it do double and triple duty. This also helps people recognize your brand communications by seeing it in multiple places.
Content marketing should be the center of your strategy—not a category. It should tie everything together with a nice big bow, and it should have a shelf life well beyond a flight of commercials. It's always a temptation to go for the immediate gratification of mass market media, but the pay off is fleeting, and when done in a vacuum, not worth the long-term drag.
Need a visual? Here's a totally unscientific one. The difference between the lines in the first chart is that in order to bring the blue line back up, you need another large infusion of advertising, whereas the orange line, content marketing, continues to build on itself over time because you are constantly adding content at a steady yet manageable pace, and only eliminating what becomes outdated. Content marketing stays in the market place without big bumps from advertising. In fact, the more you create over time, the stronger the overall effect in stabilizing your presence.
Conversely, in order to get the same long term effect with a media-buy-only strategy, you either have to consistently keep your budget high, or as depicted in the chart below, cyclically re-infuse your advertising. Again, this method doesn't build long-term, searchable, quality content. It disappears when the budget runs out.
Is content marketing hard work? It can be. Is it cheaper than traditional advertising? Not always. As we like to say here, good work ain't cheap, and cheap work ain't good. But it's a smarter long-term brand growth strategy that should be at the center of everything a smart marketer (a "smarketer") does—not a side thought that gets done someday, or never at all. Blog. Create video. Capture beautiful imagery, real stories and create a solution-focused marketing plan that drives long-term growth.
Is your company looking into a long-term approach marketing plan? Contact us today and schedule a free 30-minute consultation!
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