If you had the choice to interrupt your customers or to provide them with enriching content which just so happened to capture their attention, which would you choose?
Such is the difference between traditional marketing—billboards, radio spots, television commercials and newspaper ads—and content marketing. Whereas the former aims to grab a hold of the viewer’s attention for a brief moment, the latter seeks to provide the same viewer with multiple forms of valuable content in order to help build and grow a long-term relationship. Traditional marketing is expensive and provides not much more than a distraction. Content marketing offers valuable information and entertainment which lasts longer and can be shared on social networks with ease.
In light of this, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that businesses are increasingly looking toward upping their content marketing efforts. According to Jonathan Lister, who oversees the North American advertising sales and operations for LinkedIn, 18.9 percent of marketers focused primarily on content marketing in 2012. In 2013, that number has jumped to 34.8 percent.
“I’m seeing this trend in action with more and more of my clients balancing out their traditional marketing efforts with content marketing campaigns,” Lister recently wrote.
And why shouldn’t they?
Do you enjoy watching edited-for-television movies that are interrupted by commercials every 15 minutes? Do you read a newspaper for the intriguing ads on the side? Are you super happy when you’re reading through a list on a website and all of a sudden a video pops up and your computer is rendered obsolete for 30 seconds while your bombarded with some advertisement for who-knows-what?
The answer to those three questions is likely no.
On the other hand, imagine this: Your favorite author writes historical fiction and is coming out with a book in a few months about Switzerland, spanning the creation of the Old Swiss Confederacy in 1291 to present day. It goes without saying that anyone covering more than 700 years of history in a novel can’t include every important episode. But there are stories that need to be told which won’t be included in the book. The author decides to write accounts of some of these certain historic episodes and post them sporadically on his website—promoted through social media—in the weeks leading up to his novel’s release.
Since that’s your favorite author, you would likely read those small pieces of content. You would almost certainly buy the book as well.
But what of the curious customer who’s never read the author? Say that person’s does a quick Google search and stumbles across the “bonus” content the author’s produced. He or she can read those and determine whether or not to take the plunge and buy the expansive novel. At worst, the curious customer will glean some knowledge from what they’ve read—whether it be historical knowledge or knowledge that they don’t really like the author. At best, he or she will become enraptured with the writing and eagerly anticipate the upcoming novel’s release. In the meantime, he or she can procure some of the author’s other books. Perhaps those few pieces of content have led to the creation of a strong bond between reader and writer.
Content marketing just makes sense. People want what they want. People buy what they want to buy. The job of a marketer is to convert an idea to a sale. By providing content that customers would seek out on their own, content marketers prove that they’re interested in establishing and maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship which doesn’t come to an abrupt end once money has changed hands.