Why Content Marketing is Taking Over Advertising Dollars

I am officially a dedicated fan of Joe Pulizzi, co-author of the ingenious book, Get Content - Get Clients.

Earlier this month he wrote a thoughtful blog post called, "The Decline of Advertising and the Rise of Content Spending" about how more companies anticipate reducing their advertising expenditures in favor of creating content.

It stands to reason that content will be at the heart of what smart companies will be doing. Buyers are less tolerant of being sold to and are more self assured in their abilities to seek out information about what they want to buy.

Easily 80% of us now go online to gather information before making a large purchase. Moreover, many of us actively set up roadblocks for traditional marketing tactics such as TiVo to skip over commercials on TV or caller ID to screen our telephone calls. Add to that our brains' inherant ability to filter out messages that seem unimportant to us (How many billboards did you drive by today? And how many of them did you notice?).

It is no wonder then why companies are backing away from traditional advertising. It simply no longer gets the results it once did. It now costs more and more dollars to attract fewer and fewer customers with advertising.

But content - meaning information that solves problems, answers questions, helps us to accomplish what we want to accomplish or get to where we want to go - does get our attention. And content will, if done right, get better results than advertising.

While advertising may be in decline, Joe points out two areas that are expected to grow: Use of Social Media as a marketing strategy and Search Engine Optimization to help visitors find your information.

Regarding the first option, I can't possibly put it better than Joe: "Social media doesn't work without relevant, valuable and consistent content."

Social media without quality content is like making a telephone call and having nothing to say once you get the other person on the line.

SEO of course is also driven by content. This is what Google and the other search engines pick up to determine if your site fits the needs of a searcher's query.

What many companies have not yet figured out, according to Joe, is how much content actually costs and how to measure the results of content marketing.

There seems to be a very unrealistic expectation that creating content can be had on the cheap. I can personally attest to this based on when I wrote web content. My prospective clients ALWAYS displayed sticker shock when I quoted my fees, even though I was far from expensive. There seemed to be the assumption that content creation was a matter of waving a magic wand or something.

Then too was the issue of actually measuring how much content added to the bottom line. Here, Joe provides some really good ways to establish sound metrics.

The real lesson here is that content marketing is a strategy replacing an older strategy. It requires a whole new re-thinking of the business model.

Content marketing will be successful IF it is useful information and focuses not on the company, but on the buyer. Do you REALLY know what your buyers want and need? Do you know what problems they must solve? Do you know what pain they are experiencing that you can remove?

Without this information, your content is destined to fail. I am always struck by how much of most marketing messages are simply bragging about the lowest levels of expectiations. Home builders brag that they build "quality" homes. Shouldn't quality be a given? Shouldn't that be the least that a builder delivers? Isn't that like saying "We meet your minimum expectations."

Or my personal favorite is a local (Dallas - Fort Worth) law firm that brags that they are the litigation firm to choose when "The results really matter." Uh, ... if I have to go to court, doesn't that assume the results really matter?

It is precisely this kind of fluff that is the cause of the decline in the effectiveness of advertising. This is why 80% of us go online before making a significant purchase. We all go through an "information-gathering" stage at some point in our buying process.

And marketers who understand this will be the ones who succeed with content marketing. Those who don't will see no better results than they are getting from their advertising.

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COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
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July 15, 2009 at 9:47 AM Joe Pulizzi said...

Well said Charles, and thank so much for the praise. The more marketers think like publishers, the more successful their content marketing efforts will be.


July 15, 2009 at 12:23 PM Laurie Dunlop said...

Great post Charles! I loved Joe's book Get Content. Get Customers. I was also very fortunate to attend a seminar her presented here in DC. Hopefully more busiensses will come around to his school of thought and give the customers what they want, valuable content that makes them smarter!