Archaeologists discover content marketing from the ’50s!

Does the Guinness Guide to Oysters, an example of content marketing created by David Ogilvy in 1951, engage you? (There’s even an offer for a free poster.)

If not, no problem. There are hundreds of thousands more examples from the archives that might hold your attention. That’s because content marketing has been around since the beginning of advertising.

Sharing free information with prospects in order to attract and engage them is a great strategy — but it’s not a new one.

Unfortunately, many of the current advocates for content marketing are mostly missing the point when they trash what they call “interruption marketing.”

For example, the Content Marketing Institute says, “Companies send us information all the time — it’s just that most of the time it’s not very relevant or valuable. That’s the difference between content marketing and the other informational garbage you get from companies trying to sell you ‘stuff.’”

Huh? Is the weather report more “relevant or valuable” when you look it up online instead of viewing it on The Weather Channel?

People leave unhelpful websites as quickly and frequently as they fast-forward through unhelpful TV spots. There is as much, if not more, “informational garbage” online as off.

Or as Bob Huffman, The Ad Contrarian, says with far greater eloquence, “When I hear idiots pop-off with their facile clichés about creating ‘compelling content’ I know they have no idea what they’re talking about. I … know how many moribund blogs, and Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds, and YouTube videos there are out there in the digi-dumpster. I know how many millions of pages of ‘content’ are lying around like a lox.”

It’s not the content that separates content marketing from “interruption marketing” — it’s the technology. It’s not the message — it’s the medium. No channel, online or off, has the market cornered on relevant, valuable information.

The real advantages of content marketing are:

  • The technical ability to serve a prospect relevant information at the moment they are looking for it
  • The technical ability for prospects to gather insights quickly and easily from other prospects and customers
  • The technical ability to get permission and gather contact information from a prospect allowing future engagement
  • The technical ability to quickly and easily build a database of prospects
  • The technical ability to track a prospect’s behavior when engaged with the brand
  • The technical ability to nurture and personalize a prospect’s engagement experience with the brand

Maybe I missed a couple, but you get the idea. Content marketing is defined, not by the quality of the content and not by a difference in philosophy or strategy, but rather by superior and sophisticated technology.

The sales process (the conversion funnel) hasn’t effectively changed. Traditional marketers have a history of providing free content, making offers, getting permission, building databases, nurturing leads, etc. Technology only makes it faster and easier.

Technology is content marketing’s differentiating advantage. That’s what its advocates should be selling.

This entry was posted in advertising, interactive marketing, lead-generation marketing, search engine marketing, social media.

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