Content Marketing versus Paid Advertising

What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Paid Advertising?

Is it possible to spend zero dollars on advertising and organically grow an online business using nothing but content marketing? That’s exactly what I did, and then I sold it… all 1,500 website pages and 10,000+ pictures, graphics, and videos.

Should your business be employing content marketing? The truth is, you are going to have to. Not only is your audience excepting a richer experience with your brand, your marketing competition is investing heavily in the method. We’re talking 91% of B2B and 86% of B2C marketers incorporating content marketing into their overall marketing strategy.

Before you jump on the wagon, you need to understand the differences between content marketing and paid advertising, and believe me, they’re very different.

I Built & Sold My Business Using Nothing But Content Marketing

Content marketing was the primary method I used to build and sell my fitness business, My Mad Methods. In a little over two years, I used content marketing to grow my business and then sell it to another company called Onnit Labs. During the process I was able to provide useful information for thousands of people to get fit, integrate a previously dispersed fitness community (unconventional trainers), and connect with hundreds of amazing fitness professionals.

The funny part is that I’m not that into fitness. Sure, I think it’s necessary, beneficial, and everyone should do it, but if I had a choice between going to the gym or watching a movie, I’m going to go with the movie. I really wanted to build an online business on a shoestring budget, and I enjoy cataloging and presenting information. The content potential of fitness, with all its exercises, diets, tips, tricks, professionals, and general interest was perfect for content marketing, and it worked.

Since then I’ve helped over 300 businesses to create content in over 20 industries. I realized that every business has the potential for infinite content if they could just look at the marketing method in the right way.

Why Content Marketing Works

Imagine how many times you go online to research a product or service before you take any steps to buy anything. Content marketing can make your business a resource, not just a place to buy stuff. When you’re a resource, you become the expert, and experts garner all the trust and respect that you need to sell people on your product or service. Here is how the Content Marketing Institute defines Content Marketing:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

With content marketing, you provide your customers with the information they want and need. Then when they’re ready to buy your related product or service, they know exactly where to go.

Content Marketing & Paid Advertising: Bros for Life

If content marketing and paid advertising were movie brothers, content marketing would be Ferris Bueller and paid advertising would be Jerry Maguire.

Ferris (content marketing) is clever, charming, unassuming, and intelligent, guiding his audience on an adventure that he both planned and delivered.

Jerry (paid advertising) is the A-Type sibling; direct, attractive, energetic, and persistent. He’s going to convince you one way or another and smile the whole time.

Ferris (content marketing) doesn’t demand attention but people will give it freely because they like him and find him interesting and informative, whereas Jerry (paid advertising) requires your attention and will change tactics until he gets it.

The point is that content marketing is a soft sell while paid advertising is a hard sell. Content marketing says, “Here’s some information you might like,” then steps back and waits for you to realize that the associated product or service is also useful.

Paid advertising says, “This is the solution you’re looking for, buy now!” On the surface it may seem like Paid advertising is better because garners quicker results, but if your goal is long term income and steady growth, content marketing is a necessity.

Consumers are getting more savvy every single day. There are more resources and vendors than ever, allowing consumers to shop the market, research, compare, and come to a decision long after they see your product ads.

On top of that, they are inundated with ads all the time, so much so that they start to blend into the background. This has caused many advertisers to get very clever in order to get results, something that could be effective initially, but can’t provide results after the market has been saturated.

Paid advertising is like hitting the “cheat” button in business. Shell out the bucks and get the sales. The problem is that most small businesses don’t have the strategy, time, or money to spend finding out which paid advertising will pay off.

Like everything else in business, your company is unique and requires a unique solution; unless you’re ready to pay for it or hire a professional to figure it out, content marketing could be the cheaper solution.

In addition, content marketing builds a valuable asset that gets more valuable the longer you work on it. Your website could one day be worth thousands or millions of dollars depending on how many pages of content you create and how much organic traffic you get.

In the process of content marketing, you can not only make sales, but you can also create a “retirement plan” that will allow you to cash out if you ever wanted to.

Content Marketing VS Paid Advertising

Let’s break down the similarities and differences of content marketing and paid advertising.

PROSLong-Term Brand Development
Turns Your Website into an Asset
Doesn’t Cost Anything to Get Started
Fast Return/Results
Predictable Returns
Good for New Brand Establishment
CONSTime-Intensive to Create/Test Content
Results Won’t Happen Quickly
Can Be Expensive to Develop/Test
Will Always Require Money to Work

Which one should your business use? Both of course! You need paid advertising to get your brand, product, or service on the market. You need content marketing to create a deeper brand image that can eventually become a valuable resource to your customers, eventually requiring less paid advertising to scale.

Mark de Grasse

Mark de Grasse

Mark de Grasse is the President and General Manager of DigitalMarketer and has worked with thousands of business owners to create brands, companies, and marketing campaigns.

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