Even though content marketing is not new, those who are new to it (and even some who aren’t) often have trouble pinpointing the difference between it and advertising.
After all, both can use text, images and videos to promote your company.
Once you scratch the surface, however, it becomes clear that content marketing is much different than traditional advertising. Let me explain.
1. Attraction vs. Invasion
One of the key differences between content marketing and advertising lies in the difference between inbound and outbound marketing.
This graphic from SEOPressor does a great job at quickly illustrating that difference:
In essence, inbound marketing is all about letting new customers come to you, while outbound marketing is all about interrupting potential customers in an effort to (loudly) convince them that you’re worth checking out.
Inbound marketing includes:
- General content creation
- Social media posts
Outbound marketing includes:
- Traditional advertising (print, television, etc.)
- Social media advertising
- Cold calling/emailing
- Interstitial web pages
One advantage of inbound marketing is that potential customers are much more open to it. After all, they’re not being interrupted to be forcibly told how great your company is–instead, they’re seeking out information and stumbling upon your company (and all its offerings) in the process.
2. Show vs. Tell
With traditional advertising and marketing, companies use words and promises–whether they’re true or not–to tell customers how great they are. With content marketing, companies use high-quality content to show customers how great they are.
Think of it this way: If you pay for a television ad, whether local or national, you’ll have about 30 seconds to tell customers that your company is trustworthy and knowledgeable and that your products or services will add value to their life.
On the other hand, if you write a series on in-depth blog posts, you’ll have a much longer period of time to show customers that your company genuinely knows what it’s doing, cares about its customers and is proven to be provide effective products or services.
3. Personalization vs. Generalization
With advertising, your goal is to reach as many people as possible in a universally appealing way. Think Super Bowl ads: whether they’re funny, emotionally stirring or serious, they’re all created in an attempt to resonate with all of the game’s 100 million or so viewers. To put that in perspective, that’s the equivalent of trying to appeal to approximately one third of the United States’ population.
With content marketing, however, your goal is to appeal to people who are already seeking out the kind of information you’re providing. Think an online SEO class: the people who enroll in it aren’t going to be people who have no interest or use for SEO. Rather, they’ll be people who have already decided that SEO would be useful for them and want to learn more about it.
This also applies to more common types of advertising, like email campaigns. The traditional way to approach email campaigns is from a “one size fits all” perspective–this might be effective in some situations, but it also tends to lead to a much lower click through rate (CTR) than you want.
From a content marketing perspective, however, email campaigns are as personalized as possible, and not just on a superficial level (using a person’s first name at the beginning of the email doesn’t necessarily count as true personalization). Although you may reach a smaller amount of people, the people you are reaching will be much more receptive to what your company has to offer.
4. Quality vs. Quantity
With traditional advertising, the bigger your budget is, the more people you’ll be able to reach. With content marketing, the better your content is, the more customers you’ll intrigue.
This sums up one of the most important differences between content marketing and advertising: talking at people vs. talking with people.
Although traditional advertising provides companies with a good way to spread the word about their products or services, content marketing is one of the best ways to ensure that your company is memorable.
If you publish three high-quality pieces of content, potential customers will be much more likely to remember your name than if they randomly saw 10 pop-up ads promoting your company (and much less annoyed, at that).
In the end, while great content may produce fewer short-term results than a large amount of ads, quality will always trump quantity.
So, while both traditional advertising and content marketing can be valuable tools to nearly every company, don’t forget that the two are very different, and that the power of content marketing is not to be underestimated.
If you need help creating high-quality content that will draw potential customers to you, you might want to check out bizbuzzcontent’s content creation services.
What results have you seen from traditional advertising vs. those you’ve seen from content marketing? Which one have you found to be the most valuable so far? Let me know in the comments below!