Why Content Marketing Isn't New to Advertising

content marketing newspaper adAdvertising has gone through many phases, or should I say eras, since almost the start of human life. Although there have been many changes to the channels and types of messages used to advertise, something has remained constant throughout every era: content. This makes sense because advertising at its core is communicating a message, and that message is that essential content.

No matter if the advertising was on a cave wall, poster, newspaper, TV, or computer screen, content was used to communicate that person or company’s message.

If content has been present all along, what’s the big deal about content being at the center of your online marketing plan? And why are so many marketers and C-level executives skeptical of inbound marketing, which focuses on content?

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at some examples of how content was used over the past few eras in different types of advertisements.

    1. In this 1890’s newspaper ad you’ll see many commonalities with everyday blog articles that use the inbound marketing philosophy. You see there is a clear call-to-action. The ad makes the reader aware about the facts of Cholera. Finally, it tells the reader what they can do. It’s being helpful. All of these elements are key parts of today’s inbound marketing philosophy.

    2. This 1960’s VW magazine ad also has many elements essential to inbound marketing today. You see this ad has an image that clearly reflects the content in the ad, a call to action to “think it over,” and quite a bit of content informing the reader about VW.

    3. Wendy’s 1984 TV commercial “What the Beef” also had a lot of elements found today in the inbound marketing philosophy. The content makes the viewers aware of a problem and gives them information on a solution. Are you starting to see a trend?
    4. And then there are the blog articles of today, like this one about humanizing your brand on social media. We are giving you information that you might have not known already, used an image to portray our message and give you a call to action. Not much different from over 100 years ago, huh?
As you can see, content isn’t new at all when it comes to your advertising. What is different is how much content is used for advertising. With inbound marketing we provide a lot more content than most advertisements have historically. Instead of small snippets of information in a print ad, we are writing blog articles, whitepapers, eBooks, and even providing hour-long webinars. And we do this because our consumers have changed.

Having the internet, smart phones and other technology allows us to get more information from more places. It makes us all more connected. This ability, among other factors, has changed us as consumers. For example, we tend to research and learn more about our problem or need and the solutions available before we consider making a purchase.

As a reaction to these changes in consumers, inbound marketing has come into existence (not to be mistaken with content marketing). Just like any industry or technology, things evolve and change. And inbound marketing is just a new era of marketing in the history books, with content at its center just like the past.

Photo: UH Manoa Library

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