All I Need to Know about Content Marketing…

...I learned From Advertising

Advertising. Marketing. Creative communications. Whatever you call it, it’s what gets me up in the morning. I’ve grown up connecting with brands like Sony, Nike, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and many more. And I think, at least in part, the way that they connected their brand with me is what drew me to a career in advertising and creative communications. In school and early in my career, the notion that the idea is king was engraved into my mind, which then influenced how I was taught to approach broadcast, radio, and out-of-home advertising. Now there is a new school of thought that content is king, which receives a lot criticism and winces when someone drops the c-word in a room full of traditional advertising folks. Admittedly, I had a difficult time shifting gears when content became the center of conversation, but I’d like to suggest that great ideas and content are one in the same.

In a recent article, an advertising legend shared some of his thoughts and fears of opting for digital content over traditional advertising. He scoffs “…can anybody tell me, in the last 10 years, a piece of content that people remember and can quote back?” Granted digital advertisements, like banner ads, are becoming more and more ubiquitous and the thought or fear is that people are more aware of digital advertisements—going out of their way to block them. Even further, he states “… people advocating content (paid-for or otherwise) instead of traditional campaigns need only look at the real numbers and those real conversations that happen about great ads outside of advertising.

Which got me thinking—why do big idea advertising campaigns and digital content have to be mutually exclusive?

Now don’t get me wrong, any great ad campaign is about the idea. It’s what makes campaigns memorable, sticky – what resonates with audiences. It’s storytelling at its finest. But every story has a means of being shared. Some are traditionally written while some may be spoken. Some are longer formats and some are shorter formats. And now with the advent of social media, digital advertising and the like, we have more avenues of communicating a brand’s message or sharing an organization’s vision. Plus, there’s a lot of emerging research that points to how our audience engages with advertisements is changing, too.

If I could draw an analogy, ideas are the gas while content is the vehicle to get your story to the people. You can take a sports car or the bus—both will take you somewhere, but one may be quicker or can carry more weight. Regardless of the vehicle, content allows you to be timely and relevant, provides social currency, and tailors your message to where the audience is, to share just a few examples.

Oh, and did I mention that content is a scalable solution, too? If you don’t wake up to million dollar budgets every day, you can scale back and opt for a more fuel-efficient model. As an agency or organization, it’s an opportunity for you to organically grow business. Your idea may start out with a clever social media campaign that could later evolve into more elaborate productions, such as pre-roll video or broadcast. But it’s a matter of being aware of your audience, creating the right content for your brand, and communicating that big idea even in a smaller venue.

As marketers, our challenge with content is to be nimble, smart, relevant and powerful. Which is, coincidentally, the same challenge of great advertising.


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