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The Difference Between Content Marketing and Advertising

May 6, 2021

Submitted by Nina Tucker
President, Noesis Marketing

Like so many people, I love history. It gives me particular satisfaction when I can put a historical perspective on something personal or professional. People often talk about content marketing like it is something new in a marketer’s toolbox. In reality, brands have been telling their stories for hundreds of years.

In 1732, Benjamin Franklin published the yearly Poor Richard’s Almanack to promote his printing business. Charles Scribner’s Sons began publishing Scribner’s Magazine in 1887 to generate sales of Scribner’s books. In 1895, John Deere published the first issue of The Furrow, an agricultural magazine of print advertorials still in print today. In the early 1900’s Proctor & Gamble ventured into the first audio content marketing with their branded radio programs known as “soap operas.”

With the continuing growth of platforms to share those stories, what is now called content marketing has grown exponentially. What distinguishes content marketing from advertising is the content, the target, and audience involvement.

Content marketing is one of the most effective marketing strategies today for building brands. However, a lot of time and effort can be wasted if it is not done right. Make your content marketing worthwhile by:

  • Understanding your audience personas
  • Researching the content that your audience is interested in
  • Creating content that is relevant now and will remain so for 5 or more years
  • Avoiding using content marketing as an advertising channel
  • Focusing content on your audience rather than on you
  • Including images or video
  • Including calls to action (CTA’s)
  • Testing and tracking

Avoid a failing content marketing strategy by distinguishing it clearly from advertising strategy and using best practices along the way.

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