It’s a pretty terrible time to be in the traditional advertising sector. The Wall Street Journal recently named advertising and promotion management the “fastest disappearing” jobs in the US.
As HubSpot blogger Dan Lyons points out, it’s not like the situation is going to improve next quarter, either. The internet has severely disrupted traditional marketing techniques, including advertising and the newspaper industry. Inbound and content marketers are most definitely here to stay.
You’re probably wondering why the dearth of job opportunities at traditional ad agencies has anything to do with your playbook of content marketing techniques. Well, it actually has quite a bit to do with it. Traditional advertising methods, like print ads and television commercials worked incredibly well until the average consumer owned a smart phone. It’s up to the savviest content marketers to glean what they can from ad copywriters before the profession disappears. Turns out, there’s quite a bit of wisdom to apply to your marketing techniques found in the ad agencies of yesteryear.
1. Headlines Matter
For every single advertisement, a traditional copywriter generates 50-100 headlines. That’s not an exaggeration. For years, marketers have known that first impressions are everything, and have worked incredibly hard in teams to craft a perfectly-compelling introduction for their campaigns.
You don’t need to draft 100 titles for your next blog post, and the average content marketer probably doesn’t have the time or resources to participate in extended headline writing sessions for blogs, eBooks and landing pages. However, think twice and leverage your coworker’s expertise before you simply slap a descriptive title on an article. Is it compelling, unique and brilliant? No other marketing techniques will do.
2. Connect on an Emotional Level
Most readers will recognize the video advertisement above, which catapulted Apple into its current position as a major player in the technology scene in the early 1980’s. It isn’t the most expensive ad ever created, and it only ran once during the Super Bowl. However, an expert panel recently named it the most powerful advertisement ever created.
Why? Simply put, it makes viewers passionate about Apple’s product, and defines the brand’s position as a company that caters to creative rule-breakers. Content marketers can achieve the same affect by taking a stand, and effectively targeting their work to hit a home run with their ideal audience.
3. Know Your Audience
At a traditional ad agency, an enormous amount of money was typically funneled toward qualitative research. We’re specifically referring to focus groups, scheduled panels of carefully-selected consumers who would provide feedback over the course of a few hours on a potential marketing campaign. As much as 70% of consumer research budgets were spent on these sessions. They weren’t cheap to run, but it’s safe to assume that thousands of terrible marketing ideas were diverted when a focus group reacted poorly.
Consumer research should have a major, recurring role among your marketing techniques. It behooves content marketers to really invest in buyer persona profiles based on actual interviews with real customers.
4. Consistency Is Everything
According to the experts, there’s one major area where content marketers consistently fail. It’s adding consistency in messaging to their marketing techniques. MarketingProf’s Ann Handley has been advising professionals to start thinking in terms of a broader strategy for years. The concept of a campaign mindset has started getting some serious coverage on the marketing scene, and there’s good reason behind it.
Traditional advertisers know that marketing techniques are cheap, but truly great ideas are much harder to come by. That’s why a traditional marketing campaign typically consisted of print advertisements, billboards, radio ads, television commercials, and other forms of media; all of which were centered around one winning idea. Sales researchers have found it typically takes seven “points of contact” for a consumer to make a purchase. It’s probably not too much of a leap to believe that it takes more than one exposure to your company’s campaign concept for the message to sink in.
Invest in truly great ideas, and center your marketing techniques and channels on a unified concept. Whether your company’s out to communicate your commitment to quality or sustainability, create a campaign that includes eBooks, blog posts, Tweets and Facebook posts.
5. Be Super Responsive
One quality that really great advertisers have in common is attention-to-detail. If the wrong phone number or a typo ends up on a magazine ad, you can’t exactly ask for a second printing. As Julianne Parrish highlights, content marketers have a serious advantage when it comes to the cost and ease of editing after-the-fact. While you should embrace your ability to modify blogs and delete Facebook posts, it doesn’t mean you should lose the quality efforts found in traditional marketing techniques and agencies. If your company has a high volume of outreach efforts, it may be time to hire an editor.
6. Buzz Isn’t Everything
One of the strangest pieces of jargon to emerge in the digital age is the idea of “buzz.” Corporate and personal brands strive to get noticed on social media, sometimes regardless of the cost. Cultural commentators refer to this phenomenon as the “fame epidemic,” and some social media experts believe that a few of the biggest hashtag fails in years past were deliberate attempts on the part of the company to simply gain notice.
Traditional marketers were a classy bunch in the sense that they rarely generated buzz for the sake of sheer attention. If a company’s reputation was damaged, repairing public perception wasn’t as easy as Tweeting an apology. Emergency PR efforts and marketing techniques sometimes took weeks before the internet. Wendy Parish believes there’s an important lesson in all of this, and it’s that content marketers should take a lesson from advertisers of yesteryear. Before writing a controversial post in hopes of going viral, content marketers should consider the potential consequences of negative attention.
7. Emulate the Television Experience
Television really hasn’t gone anywhere, even though consumers may be relying on Netflix and Hulu more than scheduled programming. Paps Shaikh of Brand Republic believes there’s a pretty big lesson in this factor, which he refers to as the “television experience.” Often, traditional advertising techniques for major companies were epic consumer experiences that took weeks to craft. Content marketers don’t need to film a million-dollar advertisement for YouTube, but you should think about how you can completely engross your audience in a story. For inspiration, check out Snow Fall, an award-winning New York Times editorial piece which seamlessly blended original and sponsored content.
8. Be Worthy of a Press Release
Public relations were among ubiquitous marketing techniques in years past. Agencies or on-staff content marketers would pen press releases every time their company did something news worthy, it hopes it would make the pages of a local or national newspaper. Brandsplat Blog highlights the fact that community involvement, traditionally a hallmark of PR efforts, shouldn’t be ditched just because newspaper circulation has gone way down. Whether your company’s employees are planting trees or volunteering at a local school, spread the word about your good deeds.
9. Be Really Smart
David Ogilvy, the late founder of one of the world’s largest and most-respected ad agencies, may have been responsible for realizing that marketing could be thought leadership. Whether his company was promoting Dove soap or Rolls Royce luxury vehicles, Ogilvy + Mather’s work was unfailingly smart. Educating their audience was a primary marketing technique, and the company used more data, facts, and statistics than any of their competitors.
While the inbound movement has brought consumer education into the spotlight, it will pay to consider how you can be a content marketer in the style of Ogilvy’s staff. Are you educating your readers in a way they just can’t get anywhere else? Strive to be the absolute smartest, and the success of your marketing techniques will soar.
10. Platforms Aren’t a Means to an End
In an era where every business has the ability to publish as much content as their staff can produce, is it tempting to publish for the sake of publishing? Or are blogs, Twitter and Facebook considered a tool for spreading really great ideas?
Simon Main Waring takes the position that the role of an agency (or content marketer) should be to generate great ideas about their company, and how it fits into the lives of their buyer personas. Concept should come first, and publishing is secondary. Don’t hit publish unless you’re contributing something that fits with your company’s mission and goals, even if you’re just curating a piece of content. One of the most valuable marketing techniques you can learn is realizing that each Tweet and article you write could be responsible for thousands of first impressions about your company.
What valuable lessons do you think content marketers can learn from traditional advertising techniques?