Marketing has always been about telling stories that catch the public’s eye and attention. The more appealing the story, the more chances for the customers to embrace the message and purchase the products or services hidden behind that story. The way in which you choose to convey that message and get your best assets in front of the customers is decisive in the selling process. Traditional marketing or content marketing — that is the question.
We all recognize traditional marketing as the most common type of marketing, encompassing the advertisements that we see and hear every day, such as print or paper, television and radio, direct mail — brochures, catalogs, telephone or telemarketing. Content marketing, on the other hand, is about creating free materials such as articles, videos, blogs, tweets and emails in order to inform, entertain and educate. The purpose is exactly the same as for traditional marketing — to sell more — but content marketing is subtler, luring people in rather than sending them the direct message.
And while traditional marketing patterns have the ability to score the biggest wins for businesses with big budgets, the balance is shifting towards those that can provide the best, most challenging content. As Jonathan Mildenhall, VP Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence the Coca-Cola Company said:
All advertisers need a lot more content so that they can keep the engagement with consumers fresh and relevant, because of the 24/7 connectivity. If you’re going to be successful around the world, you have to have fat and fertile ideas at the core.
Let’s see what are the most significant differences between the two ways of doing marketing and how we can benefit of each.
1. Traditional channels vs. Content channels
The first and most obvious difference between content marketing and traditional marketing is their means of distribution. In order to send its message out, traditional marketing uses mediums such as TV and radio commercials, newspaper and magazine ads, banner ads, direct mail advertisements, brochures, fliers, billboards and signs.
Content marketing goes for entirely different distribution channels. According to the Content Marketing Institute, social media has become the most popular way to publish content. Over 90 percent of businessmen are using this tactic. They also use email newsletters, website articles, blog posts, info-graphics, videos, webinars and podcasts, white papers and e-books.
The means you choose to convey your message comes with a fair share of advantages and disadvantages. For instance, traditional marketing (especially TV and radio) gives you access to large audiences, but costs a lot more than content marketing — over 60% more. It’s also true that drawing attention on a YouTube video is a lot harder than drawing attention on a TV commercial.
2. General vs. Targeted audience
As a direct effect coming from the distribution channels presented above, comes another important difference between traditional and content marketing — the type of audience it addresses. Traditional advertisements go out for general and vast audience, given their means of being shared with the public and also their prolonged shelf life. As they are designed, they can stick for months or even years. Content marketing however is intended to earn the trust and respect of the customers, so it has to be directed towards smaller groups of people, to whom it should speak in a personal way. Content marketing, as opposed to traditional marketing, is not about pleasing a large audience, but creating the right message to send to smaller and more targeted audiences.
3. Persuade vs. Offer
Another noted difference is in the way these two present their products and services up for sale. Traditional marketing is all about persuading the customers to buy the products or services by telling them how great they are, why they need them and making it easy for them to be purchased. Content marketing on the other hand actually offers something up front and then waits for the audience to come to the sellers and ask to buy their stuff. They rarely put the products in front of the customer, but rather share materials related to the products, that consumers might find useful or interesting — such as articles, funny videos or case studies. This is actually a very clever way of drawing the audience in, as you’re creating the perfect conditions for your public to respect what you’re doing and become interested in what you are offering.
4. Dialogue vs. Monologue
While traditional marketing is one-sided, content marketing is interactive. When you give out fliers or brochures you know that some people will look at them, but there is no way to know who exactly, and much less know their reactions and receive their feedback. By its nature, content marketing provides the opportunity to dialogue with your clients, rather than having them listen to your monologue. The Internet is the perfect place to know your audience and reply to their reactions properly and in due time, while also giving you the chance to research new ways to broadcast your message and new ways to gain more followers.
5. Fixed vs. Shareable
In today’s market, being able to share information rapidly and easily is one of the keys to success. This is where traditional marketing proves quite rigid in its ways, since there are not many options to spread the information, about a good TV commercial for example, except word of mouth. If you go online, find it on YouTube and share it via email or a social medium to your friends, you’ve already crossed the border to content marketing. The exposure gained through content marketing can become much more impacting and, thus, beneficial for your business.
The tone adopted by these two marketing strategies is very different in essence and making a well-grounded decision which will bring profit to your company should be based on all the above factors. What you should keep in mind is that traditional advertising needs more money and will have quicker results, while content marketing is more about fostering a relationship with the customers, but you are in for the long haul, which means that it’s important to provide consistently good content for an extended period of time. It might be that your content marketing strategy isn’t producing large gains, but don’t be discouraged too soon. It’s a proven fact that as long as you’re providing quality content, customers will stick around. Statistics say that most content marketing strategies take around 6 months before you start to see any results, so don’t stray away and you’ll end up with an inexpensive marketing opportunity that will last for a long time.
In the world of advertising and marketing, the biggest goal is to create for yourself an image with which people want to associate. Without advertising, no one would know about the products and services you have to offer. But whether it comes in the form of traditional advertising or content marketing, your content needs to be as attractive as can be. A wise decision would be to incorporate both tactics in a well-rounded marketing plan, but you should however have a main advertising style as it becomes part of your company’s personality.
TRISOFT’s word: In our experience, the best way to make this decision is to consider your target audience and which type of marketing they are more likely to react to, the types of marketing channels your company has access to and the budget you have available for it. And, in the end, it’s all about making the best of both marketing worlds!