To make money, you gotta spend money.
Despite making every CFO’s head spin, the above phrase is an undeniable truth in the world of brand marketing.
You’ve got a product or service. Your audience has a defined need. Letting the latter know about the former is the essential quest of marketing.
And typically, that quest was valiantly served by advertising and direct marketing. Spend some cash and run some ads and sit back and watch the new business come in (Editor’s note: Ok, so it was never that easy, but you catch my drift).
But now, the consumer is control. It’s too easy to press fast-forward. To turn on banner ad blockers. To unfollow or unlike a brand that is acting too familiar in your social space.
Yes, the game has fundamentally changed. To quote Craig Davis from J. Walter Thompson, “Audiences everywhere are tough. They don’t have time to be bored or brow beaten by orthodox, old-fashioned advertising. We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”
Enter the rise of content marketing.
But content marketing is not just surging in search. It’s surging in spend:
- The CMI reports that 45% of marketers plan to increase their content marketing budgets in 2013
- eMarketer states that content marketing has become the top digital marketing priority for 2013
- AdAge claims that 81% of marketers have content marketing in their budgets for 2013
Brands are shifting investment from outbound marketing (push, entrench, indoctrinate) to inbound marketing (pull, entrance, intoxicate). Why? Well, it’s all pretty logical.
1. An investment in content is the gift that keeps on giving
Digital content has a long-term value that outlasts any traditional ad spend. Single posts we’ve created for clients (and for this very blog) have ranked in search engines for years, sending a steady stream of monthly traffic to key articles on our sites. And because of this, they often catch a second-wind in social media when someone Googles a phrase, finds one of our articles, appreciates it and then shares it on Twitter, for instance.
Contrast that with a PPC campaign or an ad banner that vanishes the moment your cash runs out and you see that content is a pound-for-pound better long-term investment.
2. Content places your brand at the gateway(s) of discovery
Ads tell you what, content tells you why. And today’s educated consumer is much more concerned with why they should buy. Every dollar counts and they account for every dollar. Content allows brands to help be part of the evaluation process, the research process and ultimately can pave the way for the buying process. Producing quality content that ranks in search engines, is shared in social media, and gets linked to from media sites and blogs positions your brand as a trusted broker in your industry and greases the skids for purchase consideration and ultimately, purchases. Content is lubrication for the sales funnel.
3. Content turns one-night stands into long-term relationships
In other words: good content can turn a prospect into a customer and a customer into an evangelist. Content provides conversational fodder that turns a first date (a prospect) into a steady relationship (a warm lead) before you ask for marriage (and generate a sale). Ads, a lot of times, meet someone once and propose. It scares people away (imagine a blind date that turns into a hard sell for marriage). Content gives you a reason to keep the conversation flowing and keep them interested until it’s time to pop the question.
What other logical reasons do you think are leading to the surge in content marketing?