Written by Umair Mirxa @DastaanOnline
The purpose behind it all remains ever the same. Call out to a potential customer, get your message across, attract them, and offer them something which they’ll hopefully purchase. From hawkers in the ancient bazaars of Egypt all the way through to radio and television ads, and even unto the digital age of the internet – someone, somewhere is forever trying to sell something to someone else.
So why then the debate? What matter the differences between content marketing and traditional advertising as long as either or both get the job done and generate sales?
You don’t always have to choose between the two. Most businesses, in fact, use a combination of both traditional advertising and content marketing. However, and mostly due to budget constraints, there are occasions when a choices becomes necessary. When such a time comes, it helps to be able to tell the difference so you can make the right choice for your business.
The Crux of the Matter
The greatest difference between the two strategies is how they approach customers. It arises primarily because of the distinct mediums of communication used by each technique.
Traditional advertising is, by its very nature, a highly disruptive technique. It interrupts the customer, forcing them to stop what they’re doing before they can receive the message. A magazine or newspaper ad interrupts reading, shows and songs are paused to air radio ads, and television ads have the annoying habit of interfering with far more interesting things one could be watching.
On the other hand, content marketing relies upon its target audience’s permission. It doesn’t show up in the middle of everything else. It doesn’t interrupt the day, and is considerably less annoying. Content generated through this technique has to be discovered if it is to be consumed. The customer needs to voluntarily seek it out, and then they can engage with it at their convenience.
To Earn Your Keep
Brands and businesses, individuals who use content marketing to gain an audience, all first offer something of value. It may be information on a particular subject, tips and tricks, advice, solutions to specific problems or industry insights. In so doing, they earn the right to an audience. The customer actually wants to hear, and even seeks out, what they have to say.
Traditional advertising pays for a platform. It stands on that platform and shouts it message across with nary a care for who’s listening. The brand cannot target its audience, and all the customer hears is noise. Furthermore, a rented audience places no trust in the business. Millennials especially are quite particular about the source of the content with which they engage.
The Art of Conversation
What do billboards, commercials, and print ads have in common? They all throw some information at people, and hope to convert them into customers. Therein lies one of the biggest problems with traditional advertising. There is no real give and take. Customers can give feedback, certainly. It is generally delayed however, and most often ignored.
Content marketing, by contrast, inherently allows a business to engage in conversation with its target audience. It gets customers to like and trust the business, and give back to it through positive feedback, constructive criticism, and most importantly, purchases of products and services. It allows customers to take ownership of the brand, and to feel proud on account of it.
In order to create an effective marketing strategy for your business then, it is crucial that you incorporate content marketing into your plans. It is highly effective, affordable – particularly at the start-up stage, easier to accomplish, and it is a technique appreciated by customers. It does not mean, however, that you forsake traditional advertising completely. Rather use an efficient blend of both to the optimal benefit of your brand and business.