There is a massive difference between content marketing and advertising. Marketers also have very different goals in mind when they decide which method they want to deploy. One looks native in the feed, drives engagement, and focuses on awareness over sales. The other focuses on brand awareness, conversions, and has very specific goals. Can you guess which is which?
Content marketing looks native in the audience’s feeds. It is designed to market to consumers in a subtle way. It can be blogs, newsletters, articles, social posts. It can also be content that is generated and posted by the users themselves, such as client advocacy posts. Content marketing is helpful to build brand awareness, convey the culture of a company, generate buzz around your company, or to humanize the brand.
The main difference between content marketing and advertising is that advertising has a very specific ad spend budget and agenda. Ad placements are purchased, so companies expect to receive sales to offset their costs. Basically, their goal is to control every aspect of the ad — nothing should be left to chance in order to receive the highest ROI. Advertising can be posts on social media sites, billboards, direct mail, and pages in newspapers or magazines.
Talking to Consumers vs. Talking With Them
Advertising is invasive. Ads usually pop up on a consumer’s screen when they are doing something else. They might be watching a tv show or reading an unrelated article. Content marketing, however, invites consumers to join in on the conversation. They have the ability to respond and interact with the content to the degree that they would prefer. Customers or potential purchasers have the power to consume as much of your content as they choose. On the contrary, when they consume advertising materials, that choice is made for them.
When consumers see an ad there is no guarantee that they will recall your ad. It might take two, three, or ten impressions before your ad really makes an impact on them. With content marketing, your materials are constantly getting seen by the audience. The cool part about this strategy is that it is not in any way pushy. You are simply producing content that has the added bonus of getting your brand in front of your intended audiences’ eyes. By doing so, you are increasing your brand awareness while building a mutually beneficial relationship with future (or current) customers.
Pinpointing Your Ideal Audience
Advertising materials (for the most part) strive to reach a larger audience. The targeting is not as specific as it is with content marketing. By producing content that consumers actually want to see you are able to reach a much more niche audience. Targeting a highly specific audience that is more likely to lead to conversions saves you time and money.
The goal of content marketing is to create a mutually beneficial relationship with your audience. You want to serve them content that they truly want to see. By doing so, you will increase your brand awareness and your credibility while decreasing your ad spend and wasted ad spots.
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