Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Content as Advertisement

Content has long been a key driver of success for great B2B marketers in today's world. That's nothing new, and we've talked about related topics such as the content gap and the need to get more subject matter experts involved.

However, one challenge that remains is how to draw attention to your content. Earning attention is certainly the best way, by steadily creating great content, winning over the hearts and minds of a loyal following, and having that loyal following share your message with still more audience members.

That's a great way to build an audience, but it is NOT a fast way.

The Challenge of Earned Media

In a recent post, I talked about the flywheel effect that these investments had; slowly building a following over time that built up momentum and energy, but based on the continual push of great content, rather than the blast of major marketing spend.

An interesting hybrid option has been appearing recently, here's one I saw from American Express:

And here's a similar example from Accenture:

These are ad placements - these happened to be on LinkedIn, but where is less important than what. They are regular, paid ad placements that advertise not promotions or brand-related things, but pure content.

Buying Your Way to Earned Media

This is not a shortcut of the mantra of earned media; for this strategy to work, the content has to be interesting, relevant, useful, and valuable. It is, however, a turbo-charging of it. By using advertising to broaden the discovery of the information, Accenture and American Express are just fast-tracking the process.

The content must still stand on its own merits, but for those with a reasonable advertising budget, the laborious process of building a loyal audience can be facilitated with a bit of cash.

I'm sure that this is an affront to many content marketing purists, so I welcome what I'm sure will be an interesting discussion. Have you tried using content as an advertisement in this way? Did it work?
Many of the topics on this blog are discussed in more detail in my book Digital Body Language
In my day job, I am with Eloqua, the marketing automation software used by the worlds best marketers
Come talk with me or one of my colleagues at a live event, or join in on a webinar


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