Can’t we all just get along? I’m speaking, of course, about advertising and content marketing. So many times, I’ve seen advertising and content marketing in their own silos. And the resulting clash is more than just aesthetic. Brand styles aren’t adhered to consistently, and messages are unaligned and disparate. I mean, come on you guys, can’t we just … talk about it?
Now, I know, content marketing evolved because traditional advertising was and is increasingly ineffective. But advertising still is a powerful and relevant tool in the overall sales arsenal — as is content marketing. And when the two work together, the effectiveness of both is amplified.
How to Mix Content into Your Business Model
Ready to get in on this cross-department message amplification, bro? Follow these guidelines to avoid the common pitfalls many of us (including yours truly) have fallen victim to.
- Play nice: Respect each department’s contribution and priorities. Everyone is bringing something to the table here, and everyone has the same overall goal.
- Start at the beginning: I’m begging you here — consider your multichannel approach before you start planning any campaigns. Be deliberate. Don’t tack a content marketing aspect onto an ad campaign as an afterthought, and don’t do a media buy for a content campaign after you’ve already outlined the whole project.
- Spin a yarn: When you start concepting, think narratively. Storytelling works across all media — it’s a tried and true method of drawing in customers. I’m a fan of brainstorming with no rules, especially when those sessions go completely off the rails (that’s my favorite — but maybe I’m an exception here). That said, at some point, you’ll have to bring the ideation back to reality by pulling out a larger corporate or product strategy, messaging guide, or sales goals. Use that as a measuring stick against which you’ll evaluate your ideas.
- Bake it in: Every aspect of your campaign should be speaking to this same story, whether it’s a banner ad or a blog post. So in selecting tactics and executions, consider how your story will be best supported across channels. What media buy, blog asset, microsite, or social media initiative will be most effective? As you draw your concept across channels, you’ll be ensuring the kind of amplification you seek. (By the way, you might want to go back and forth between these last two steps as your campaign develops. Be flexible and nimble here, my friends.)
- Link it together: Sure, you can put an ad and a blog post out into the ether and expect people to draw their own conclusions, but why not lend them a helping hand? That means adding a call to action to anything promotional, from traditional billboards to Google ads. For example: Share your advertising-related woes with us on Twitter with #TheContentStruggleIsReal, discover the real-life heroes of advertising mishaps on our blog, and enter our #TheContentStruggleIsReal contest at Facebook.com/DCustomMedia. (Note: There is no contest. Sorry guys, The Big Cheese wouldn’t approve the budget for the GoPro prize).
- Be flexible: As you go through this planning process and even after you launch your campaign, you will find that some parts of it aren’t working. That’s a given. It doesn’t mean defeat. Accept it and adjust. Act nimbly, and you can iterate until you land on the elements that drive your target audience wild.
Look, guys, by our powers combined we are Captain Planet. Do you feel me on that one? As long as advertising, content marketing, and other related departments operate in silos, we’ll only be as powerful as our individual elements.