Content Marketing vs. Advertising Guide

Content Marketing vs. Advertising Guide
Last Updated: March 15, 2023

With most eyes—if not all—on social media nowadays it's easier than ever to reach your audience. In this golden age of content, people constantly look for the next new thing. But there's room for introspection: content marketing vs. advertising. How well does your audience receive the content you've been creating? Regarding strategy, what's a more effective way to promote your business? How can you tell if one method is more persuasive than the other?

Content marketing and advertising make your business more accessible to your audience. But how exactly does this work? Read more about how each marketing approach serves your business plan.

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What's The Difference Between Content Marketing and Advertising?

Confusing the two for each other is understandable. Both content marketing and advertising are different solutions to similar problems. They both aim to make the brand more accessible to its audience and eventually result in successful leads and sales for the business.

While they both stem from the same intention, they each have a distinct approach to helping the business reach more people. And that's a good thing! Consider any marketing material you create as an invitation to talk to your target audience. No matter how niche or particular your target audience is, you can expect people to generally prefer to opt into conversations rather than being coerced into one. In marketing versus advertising, the challenge is providing the audience with the choice of whether to engage with your material or not.

You can also compare the two by the rate you spend your budget to produce them, from ideation to creation. Advertising agencies typically charges your business upfront to place your ads where people can best experience them. Content marketing generally comes at a lower cost but for a more extended time period.

Ideally, they both have a place in your business plan. The key is knowing how to bring them into play most efficiently.

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How Content Marketing Works

With 60% of marketers attesting to how content marketing generates leads, no surprise that 82% are actively integrating it into their strategy.

Content marketing is a marketing method that invites the audience to engage rather than demand their attention. When done well, it enables you to build a relationship with your audience, establishing your business as a reliable source of information they can benefit from, even before they buy into your product or service. This eventually forms trust and dependence between you and the consumers, which can result in a long-term lead or sale.

It differs from advertising in that it doesn't insist on attention from the audience it reaches. Instead, it is well-crafted content that people – whether you were targeting them or not – can appreciate and actively choose to participate. Advertising can be in the form of educational or informative content, interesting design, or simply entertainment.

Content marketing is as easy to consume as most social media content. It can also provide helpful insight for the general audience looking up easy-to-digest solutions through a quick Google search. Video content was the primary marketing media in 2021, it’s easier to consume than long-form articles. It is also expected to be the most invested in marketing media in 2022.

What Advertising Does for Your Business

Advertising may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about marketing. It's a traditional method with multiple approaches. You're sure to encounter your fair share of advertisements daily, thanks to mass media.

You can expect established corporations and large enterprises to regularly produce advertisements to keep their status at the top of mind for general consumers – which is precisely the audience for them! Advertising can be considered less targeted than content marketing, as it generally aims to be a product or service-centric catch-all. Where it plays the long game and sets out to earn your approval or interest, advertising is a more direct approach, informing potential customers of a product or service.

Despite the rise in content marketing, you can expect advertising to still serve its purpose in pushing forward your business where it can be seen. Even on social media, the advertising budget is expected to increase 11.6% annually by 2026.

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How Content Marketing Can Benefit Your Business

Whether you're a small business getting situated in the industry or an established corporation settled into your processes, working with a content marketing agency can serve your business well. Content marketing for startups can be especially beneficial, as it creates an avenue for you to raise brand awareness and reach your potential and target audience even with little to no marketing budget.

Content marketing has been highly influential in establishing an online presence for brands, where they can steadily craft a reputation for serving a benefit to their audience before any sale or commitment to purchase from their customers. In itself, that builds credibility and trust that can motivate future leads and sales and brand loyalty in the long run. Take it from 46% of businesses eager to increase their content creation rate in 2022.

Various Kinds of Content Marketing You Can Explore

Simply put, content marketing materials provide value to your audience. These create and increase brand awareness and establish good faith in your business. Here are some methods you can consider integrating into your strategy:

  • Social media content – What often comes to mind when people mention content marketing. It generally comes in the form of audio-visual content or even a simple text-based post. Think of these as bite-sized material your audience can encounter through a simple scroll through any social media platform. Catching and keeping their attention for longer and more often is key to making your brand stand out among the rest.
  • Blog posts, eBooks, case studies – These are short to long-form articles that often come at no cost to the customer. Your customers can usually find these on your website, whether they found it through search engines or social media content you've prodIt's. It's a good idea to create these data-based materials, then repurpose them into social media content your audience can engage with.
  • Webinars and podcasts – While these may take longer to produce, they're also more accessible media for your audience to consume. These can comprise of content you've previously researched and crafted for other content marketing material, in a form that's even more accessible to more people.

How To Execute Advertising Well

Advertising done well is can capture attention and convert leads into sales through its persuasive messaging. It serves information about the product or service on a silver platter and aims to convince the audience to purchase or join in.

The most effective advertisements are the ones that evoke emotions and inspire an immediate response from the customer while also educating them about the benefits of investing in your product. However, you may choose to craft or position your ad will depend on your project and industry, and you're free to be as creative as possible.

Different Types of Advertising

For as long as we've had a capitalist economy, advertising has existed hand in hand with it. It would be more of a surprise if you're not familiar with what advertising is and how closely intertwined, it is into our daily lives. To be concise, we can break down advertising into two categories:

Digital ads – Arguably, the kind of advertising audiences encounter the most nowadays with social media right in the palm of their hands is digital ads. . This can be in the form of commercials, banners, and pop-ups we are too familiar with. It can also be closely integrated into the structure and function of its platform, known as native advertising, which is sponsored materials that look and feel very natural to the channel it's being viewed from.

Traditional media – These include audio-visual material, like what you typically encounter on TV or when listening to the radio, and printed media, such as magazines, newspapers, direct mail, flyers and billboards. While it's easy to discount these as aged methods of advertisingthey still serve a purpose in reaching the right audience for the proper industry. After all, they wouldn't be used today if they haven't been effective since advertising was established.

Best Practices and Key Takeaways in Content Marketing vs Advertising

There are so many ways for your business to grow through content marketing and advertising. For the untrained entrepreneur, the initial question may be whether to use one or the other for your business strategy. The short answer is to integrate slowly and intentionally into your marketing plan.

Small businesses can benefit from content marketing, as it comes at a smaller initial cost. Creating a social media account for your business is free. It often comes with the essential analytics to help you track which content materials are doing well and which could be further improved. As your business grows, your content marketing methods can grow with you. You could also invest in advertising methods as soon as you have the budget for it, and it can boost brand awareness even faster.

Think of advertising as a compact, straightforward, hard-sell version of the long-form media you have prepared for your content marketing strategy. With enough experience, when you efficiently repurpose your content marketing materials into advertising, you will build up to balancing both methods and advance to content advertising. While you can repurpose these materials into advertising materials, the flipside isn't as effective.

When in doubt, go back to your business strategy; your brand fundamentals will guide how you can approach your methods for discovery and engagement. The goal is to communicate with your audience.

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