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Blurred lines: Content versus advertising

Posted on May 12, 2015 by Rich under Sales and Marketing

Marketing bods have been falling over themselves to find the answer to this modern communication matrix, how does one treat content versus advertising. Advertising works in some places, but not others. Content marketing (done well) looks all fine and sexy, consumers supposedly hooked to the storyline and keen to loosen their spending belts as a result.

The reality is that the 24/7 market that digital has enabled makes the world of attracting your consumer a more complex task, ensuring you will have to run twice as fast to reach the same point a few years ago. Part of this is because the market is far more crowded, faster broadband speeds giving everyone a platform to do business on their own terms.

Why are we telling you this? Something you probably already suspect or know? Because its important to understand the complexity, to reach the conclusion of simplicity. We’ve touched on this before: simple communication, in whatever form, is the safest and easiest route for any business. Apple is the premium example. This is content marketing and advertising in one hit. Immediately you’re following a narrative based on you and me, and the potential we have of shooting amazing pictures in our own backyard.



This is content marketing in it’s purest form. Placing the logo and stating very simply which product it is; its the most basic advertising there is. No punchline, no sales offer, just a statement and a call-to-action.

As a business promoting imagery and photography skills, this provides a very good starting point and there are some points below to illustrate the techniques you can try to reach a similar endgame.

● AUTHENTICITY: There’s no such thing as the Marlboro Man any more. The illusion of a romantic lifestyle on the open range, lingering panoramics to sell a cigarette. Today’s world is too savvy and we all see the truth. Find the core meaning and skills of your business and promote that. People will see the real you and make a decision based on that.

● RELATIONSHIPS: The world of good business is built on these and whilst a well-designed advert or offer might result in a purchase, the repeat business comes from being in touch with a consumer through their buying experience. This is where content marketing comes in, using social media and a story to keep them inspired and in buying mode.

● ONE VOICE: You may look at advertising and content marketing separately but, as Apple shows above, oftentimes they drive each other and a good advert can be the entry point for an intriguing story. And vice-a-versa. The most important aspect is to keep a unifying voice across all communication.

There is no one-size-fits-all and with a small business, or any business for that matter, simplicity is key.