I’m growing a bit weary of all the new forms of marketing and advertising being invented in the wake of the Internet and, in particular, social media.
Social media marketing, content marketing, relationship marketing, influence marketing, etc.
Every year sees a slew of “new marketing” concepts that become the hot topic around the blogger water cooler, with marketing insiders fighting to claim ownership and expertise in each.
The marketing industry has become the wild west of the business world. Is anyone actually performing any real marketing and advertising anymore?
Pot. Kettle. Black.
Now before you unleash your snarky comments reminding me that I’m author of a book called Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing, which effectively checks off at least two of those “new marketing” concepts I’m criticizing, let me share an insight. When you read the book Danny Brown and I wrote, you’ll realize it’s not a book about just influence and social media marketing. It is a business book.
Yes, we outline effective, modern marketing tactics that we and our colleagues have deployed in response to changes in the way consumers communicate, but that’s not creating “new marketing.” We apply traditional marketing principles to new media.
I’m not against better defining the new marketing tactics and techniques available to businesses and marketing professions today, but I am concerned about our efforts to redefine the practice and focus of marketing based on evolving technologies.
Content Marketing vs. Advertising
During last evening’s weekly debate on Twitter, the #bizforum community took on the challenge of comparing the latest darling of the marketing world, content marketing, with traditional advertising.
Wikipedia defines content marketing as “any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers.”
Advertising is defined as “a form of communication…used to encourage, persuade, or manipulate an audience (viewers, readers or listeners; sometimes a specific group) to continue or take some new action. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering.”
Be it to acquire new customers or retain existing customers, advertising and content marketing essentially do the same thing. They both serve the marketing function, which in turns serves the needs of a business. Yet, the marketing industry is so focussed on what’s next and redefining marketing that we often lose sight of the basic tenets of sound marketing practice.
During last night’s debate, some argued that by informing the customer through social content, content marketing plays a supporting role to advertising, which is used to “hook the client’s interest.”
The assumption is that content marketing is information created in various formats such as blogs, videos, presentations, etc. that customers seek when they know they have a need or are considering a purchase, whereas advertising, such as billboards, magazine ads, and television commercials are tactics used to introduce a brand in the customer’s consciousness.
If this is the case, in which column do you place this entertaining YouTube video created by Tim Washer for IBM? It’s informative, delivered in an entertaining manner, and created specifically for YouTube. Is it content marketing? (Everyone nod your heads)
Is it an advertisement? (Hint: everyone nod your heads)
Had IBM purchased air time on a television station for this piece, it would be easily classified as advertising, not content marketing. Yet it is content marketing; the only difference is the channel that they chose to share it on.
The same could be said about the many Ford campaigns that are being produced specifically for social networks. Ford now produces videos, articles, and promotions that it used to place on television, at trade shows or in magazines and newspapers.
Now they are being produced for Facebook and YouTube and advertising has magically become content marketing. Granted, the Internet and social networks allow for a greater amount of consumer interactivity and longer content formats, but the premise is the same.
The “New Marketing”
In the 1920s, tobacco companies invested in new equipment that greatly increased their ability to manufacture cigarettes; however, it feared the market would not support the increased supply. New content, such commemorative post cards and photographs of smoking celebrities and sports figures, was distributed to community gathering centers, bars, and included in-package as an educational tool that promoted smoking as way in which to improve the quality of one’s life.
Beth Haden, in a post for CopyBlogger, offered this: “As content marketers, we can learn a lot from the legendary Mr. Ogilvy. He was, after all, one of the pioneers of information-rich, “soft sell” ads that didn’t insult the intelligence of the prospect. For example, consider The Guinness Guide to Oysters, an early form of what the kids are now calling native advertising — from 1951.”
It wasn’t called content marketing in the ‘20s or the ‘50s but it wasn’t the hard-sell, broadcast message, and “hook-them” campaigns that are now associated with traditional advertising. It provided information to the audience that would help them make a purchase decision or become more loyal to a brand they already loved.
Presentations on SlideShare, videos on YouTube, and whitepapers posted on websites are content marketing, yet they’re also advertising when proper search engine optimization or social sharing places a brand in the path of potential customer who wasn’t considering it previously.
Experiment but Focus
Technology has also allowed us to better finesse our marketing, better segment our audience, and more accurately measure response to various types of marketing formats. It provides the tools to better identify the customer life cycle, from awareness to purchase and from purchase to advocacy. Social technologies and new Internet-connected devices provide us the tools to more accurately measure customer life time value, including the value generated by advocacy.
Experiment with all these new communication channels and marketing tactics, yet never forget that it is just marketing. And there are fundamentals rules that apply to good marketing.
Technology may have afforded the marketing industry new techniques, new media, and new channels to engage the customer, but the “new marketing” is still about engaging the customer to create awareness, establish trust, sway purchase decisions, and cement loyalty.
Marketing is not new; the channels and delivery vehicles may be new, but marketing is what it always ways. Don’t lose focus.
Sensei Debates: Is there a “new marketing?” Has marketing really changed?
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego