Content marketing, PR and advertising: The big difference

As a marketer you have more options than ever to expand brand awareness. It’s easier to take full advantage of them all when you understand the nuances and benefits of each.

As agencies diversify their offering to meet the moving goal post of evolving technology while remaining relevant, you’d be forgiven for thinking that your current agency offers everything you need. The reality is that they may be using your account as a guinea pig to upskill themselves on the services not previously offered. But why order steak at a seafood joint? Companies specialise for a reason, so it’s important to make sure that you’re getting the most qualified people for the job at hand.

The main objective in business is to build brand awareness, generate leads that turn into sales and ultimately garner ongoing loyalty from customers. Traditional advertising on television, radio and billboards, in cinemas and print media were among the options available to achieve this. There is also public relations, where agencies submit information about your brand to media outlets in the hope that it resonates with their audiences and gets published. Content marketing is defined by sharing brand-aligned information that answers a customer’s pain point on your own platforms. It’s always been around but is currently enjoying its time in the sun thanks to the digital space seeing particularly good ROI with this type of marketing. Naturally, this shift has given rise to some conflict – where should resources, energy, creativity and budget be allocated: advertising, PR or content marketing? Is there a happy middle ground where all mediums can be used effectively? What are the pros and cons? Well, it all boils down to understanding the benefits of each and then proactively establishing a collaborative strategy that gets results for your business.

Content marketing and why it works
Content marketing is a strategy of producing and distributing high-quality relevant content that is directed to your client base – both current and potential. You’re creating content (whether it be blogs, e-mailers, print material, case studies, social media posts) and your customers are coming to you to get it. It is referred to as an “inbound methodology” because, when successful, your message is delivered to the right person, in the right way, at the right time. Content marketing is a slower process, and may only produce results from between three to six months, but a successful strategy is going to produce remarkably consistent results. In addition, content marketing keeps your customer in touch with your brand through all the phases of the sales funnel (what we call the camp fire effect); and is therefore a means for you to be useful to them every day.

A successful strategy speaks directly to your customers’ pain points and solves a problem for them; over time it builds trust in you as a valued authority; and eventually attracts a good-fit audience to your brand. The building of trust is the big issue here – when readers trust your expertise, they engage with your content; once they trust your content, they will engage with your brand in the buying stage of the sales funnel. Content shared on blogs, social media, email campaigns, podcasts and videos work together to drive more traffic to your website, provide visibility and improve search rankings, all of which work towards a common goal of generating leads.

Advertising – the dinosaur in the room?
Not at all. Even though it may be regarded as an interruptive tactic, because you set the time and date that an advert lands, it has immense value in digital and other spaces. Advertising is used as a method to influence behavior – a way to get an audience to take action. Concise, punchy messaging gets people’s attention and evokes emotions. It’s the wow factor – the fireworks. But like fireworks, its Achilles heel is that it’s short-lived. By using a theme tied in with your unique selling point, your brand’s messaging can muster people to take action – to buy a product or service or make a donation, and create hype around specials and discounts, for example. In short, advertising can be very persuasive.

A change in focus
A clever holistic strategy can incorporate elements of content marketing with digital and other advertising. Traditional techniques using TV, radio, print media and direct mailers can be supported and complemented with tactical online advertising in the form of display, text, banner and video ads that appear on third-party sites. Social media advertising can be as diverse as there are platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Here PPC and sponsored ads work well. Retargeting, which is based on a website’s use of cookies, means that once a visitor has been to your site, repeat advertising of your business will appear on their internet searches. It’s a way to drive users back to your site. See How owned, earned and paid media work together for more information on how different forms of media can work quite seamlessly together.

Developing an effective content marketing strategy is about looking at the big picture, one that combines the various tools needed to create and expand brand awareness. Get in touch with us to help you achieve this in a comprehensive and cohesive manner, and help you stand out from the rest with concise, targeted messaging.

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Sign up for our monthly newsletter – get the freshest content marketing news straight to your inbox!

GET IN TOUCH

9th Floor Tarquin House
81 Loop Street
Cape Town
8001
South Africa

+27 (0)21 424 3517
info@tppsa.co.za