Bits of Marketing Wisdom, Part 2: On Digital Advertising & On Content As A Driver Of Brand Experience
This is the conclusion of a two-part series that serves as a bit of a
followup to the post that @ Phil Friedman and I did recently on Content
Curation and Management.
We have slightly differing points of view on this subject. But the thing we both agreed on was that the businesses who wish to use Content Marketing as an effective tool really need to step up their game and stop flooding the Internet with the kind of crap that everybody complains about, hardly anybody reads, but that just keeps on comin’.
On Digital Advertising
Advertising is like dancing – it takes two to tango. If you have your message in the right place and the target has been thinking about buying, then you have a dance.
The big problem I see with digital advertising is that a lot of it appears in places where the majority of people don't really have the consumer dance shoes on. So what you're doing is really spraying and hoping hit a few people that do.
And that of course means one thing: little or no ROI.
So when researchers tell you that most digital advertising doesn't work, they don't mean that it's totally useless. TheY just mean its potential ROI is very low.
After that it's all about targeting, frequency, presence and of course, message. And the trouble with all that is that most digital advertising relies on something we used to call in newspaper advertising, the Earlug Factor.
The Earlug Factor Explained
The earlug was a little advertising message stuck up in the masthead of a newspaper, which often referred to a bigger ad inside the newspaper.
This was actually a pretty effective device, because, well, you were reading the newspaper anyway and maybe it caused you to stop and look a little longer at the ad that was promoted because the little earlug put it in your head. And that's how advertising used to work in that situation.
Digital advertising, such as pay per click and right column social media ads, work basically in the same way, but with one big difference: they want you to actually go to a whole other place on the Internet to see what they have to say.
All of a sudden, the 'convenience' factor is gone and the 'hassle' factor sets in. And most people, in virtually a nano second in their brains, compute that and come out thinking... that's too much like work, and besides, I'm not here for that reason anyway, etc.
Old School vs New School Algebra
The big difference between most digital marketers and so called 'old school' marketers is that digital people think that small ideas are big ones. Because most of them have never been exposed to real branding strategies, or have ever developed a true multi-media (offline/online) campaign.
It's one thing to be a ‘master of the new world of digital marketing’. It's quite another to really understand the fundamentals of advertising and marketing in general.
And because a great many companies treat these two entities as separate and distinct, the situation, for them, will continue on same as it ever was. Because real change can only happen with these two schools coming together, working together, and taking full advantage of each other's skills and experience.
Wake Up. Grow Up. Build Up.
It's called evolution. A few of us have embraced that through solid working relationships with people from the other school and are able to brand and communicate effectively and synergistically in both areas to create a truly complete communications process for our clients.
But there is still a long way to go. Mainly because there are a lot of old school types who believe that digital marketing is bullshit. And vice versa.
The quicker we grow beyond that thinking the easier it will be able to come up with innovative solutions that help digital advertising evolve and realize its full potential.
This is a worthwhile cause, because it's a win-win situation, where everybody ends up better for the experience...including the customer.
On Content As A Driver Of Brand Experience.
Somebody in one of the LinkedIn groups I used to belong to asked the question: “Is content the driver of brand experience?”
After I sort of figured out what that meant, I responded and have expanded that here for your reading pleasure.
My answer is that I think so but I hope not.
I think so because right now, it's all pretty new, kind of like truly creative advertising was in the early sixties. Everybody's got a lot to say and they're all saying it like crazy. They’re saying it on platforms that are relevant and other platforms that are questionable. But, truth be told, the biggest problem with content driven branding is that it's real easy to get fed up with.
Because keeping up with it is way too much like work, even for interested prospects.
So I hope not because, like anything that's ever happened in the world of communications, content marketing will start to get old and the more product oriented your brand is the sooner that will happen. When it gets old, the customers' bullshit radar starts to beep and when that happens you're sunk.
I hope that this doesn't start happening to brands before they have a chance to evolve their marketing into 'the next big thing', whatever that happens to be. But my personal 80-20 Differential tells me that a lot of brands won't catch on until the damage has been done.
“Tell me your story. Don't waste my time. If I'm in the market, I'll consider it.”
Maybe the way people go about making decisions about what products or services they will let into their lives has been altered by digital media, but their attention spans, bs-ometers and interest levels are still pretty much the same.
I remain steadfast in my belief that this whole marketing methodology was created, and not necessarily intentionally, by the digital marketing community, and the people out there online just kinda went along with it until it became their way of doing things.
I've been in advertising and communication for a long time and know that the audience does not create the show. They watch it and they applaud or boo and throw rotten tomatoes as the case may be.
So it’s up to you to be interesting, informative, aggressive and persuasive.
The trouble is that content marketing is designed to set virtually everybody up for failure at some point. If you want to avoid this inevitable failure for as long as you can you have to make sure that everything you do adheres to the fundamentals.
So tell your story honestly. Try to get people to like your brand. And don’t try to ram anything down their throats.
A brand is at its most effective when it is useful. Because the only time people pay attention to marketing is when they need something or they want something.
Respecting that fundamental precept will take you a long way.
The other issue is really one of stamina. Content marketing can help your brand if it’s done well. The trouble is that a lot of companies are under the impression that they can do this internally and save money.
But just a decade ago these same companies would not think twice about hiring professional creative people or agencies to help them with their communications. Because they believed that these people brought a fresh perspective to their branding efforts, and were a good investment.
This begs a very simple question that a lot of companies should be asking themselves right about now, with digital marketing ROIs as low as they are.
The question is “What, besides the media, has really changed?”
As usual, all comments, shares and likes are welcome and appreciated.
If your business has reached the point where talking to a communication professional would be the preferred option to banging your head against the wall or whatever, lets talk.
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