Think about how difficult it is to get 75 percent agreement on just about anything.
At their peaks — which tend to be rare and short-lived — the most popular politicians, celebrities and fads might bounce around the three-quarters approval mark in public opinion polls.
Meanwhile, there’s a good chance, if you do a survey, you’d have a hard time getting 75 percent of thumbs to turn up on everything from health care policy to the Holocaust, legalizing pot to banning same-sex marriage, or global warming to the current whereabouts of Elvis.
In light of all that, it’s fairly remarkable that, in a survey recently conducted by the newsletter ContentWise (in collaboration with the Custom Publishing Council), 78 percent of respondents agreed to this:
Branded content initiatives are more effective
than other leading forms of advertising and marketing.
More effective than print and TV advertising. Direct mail. Public relations.
What to make of this remarkable number? At least three key things:
Before you scrap all your advertising, DM and PR plans, it pays to look more closely at terminology and definitions. The study defines branded content as spanning not only printed publications, but pretty much all things Web and social media related.
For starters, this is a bit like taking the Boston Red Sox, merging them with the New York Yankees, and saying, “We think we’ve got a shot at getting to the World Series.”
But the more important point is this: Comparing content to those other traditional marketing tactics is an apples-to-bananas comparison. Branded content, at least in my experience, is not so much another marketing communications tactic as it is a brand positioning and marketing strategy.
In simple terms, traditional marketing communications tactics help you make marketplace aware of your product and service.
Content does more than that. Done well, it becomes an integral part of your customer value proposition. In fact, for many companies, especially B-to-B products and services with long lead times and complex sales cycles, content might effectively be your product for long stretches of time prior to an actual purchase.
Thanks to search, social media and word-of-mouth/mouse, content has the added benefit of being attractive and awareness building in its own right. In other words, if you put great content out there, customers and prospects will find you, whether you advertise, do PR or direct mail.
Which brings us to point…
Branded content and marketing communications tactics such as advertising, DM and PR can be extremely complementary and symbiotic.
Instead of touting your product’s latest bells and whistles, or offering a percentage off trial of your service, consider using traditional marketing communications tactics to promote your branded content.
Now, instead of thinking of the two as separate and even in opposition — branded content is more effective, traditional media and marcomm is less so — you’ll be using each to do what it does best. Traditional media and marketing communications to drive reach and awareness-building. Content to create a relevant, engaging, value-adding experience for those who follow through on the call to action presented via your traditional marcomm touch points.
In other words, branded content and traditional media don’t have to be an either or. They can be an integrated, powerhouse combo. Which brings us to point…
If you’re not already beefing up the ways you connect with key audiences via branded content, the time to start was yesterday.
At least I’m 75 percent sure that you do.