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Content vs Advertising

Content vs Advertising

The old expression “don’t sell me, tell me” is easier to live by these days, thanks to the omnipresence of the web. No longer sitting on your desk, less than the proverbial arms-length away, in your hand, on your phone or tablet.

Advertising is a paid for selling tool. To commandeer the full colour centre spread of all the Sunday newspapers, on a specific date, coupled with a 60 second slot before and after the evening news used to be a powerful media strategy. It didn’t require as much intelligence as it did money. You had to have an extremely large advertising budget.

This space was used to sell! Features, benefits, promises, full of facts and luring aspirations … Advertising, it was said, is the last legal way of taking advantage over your competitor.

Think about it: have you ever read an advertisement that doesn’t talk glowingly of the product? Advertising is designed to change peoples’ minds and to sell. Full-stop.

Along comes the internet and a thing called Google and a gaggle of online news and information portals where you can read everything that’s ever been written about everything. Literally everything. Written by people, for people. Not only advertising writers, but anybody who has an opinion, or experience, from all over the world, in languages and styles the average reader can understand. The beauty of it all? These people don’t get paid for what it is they are writing about a product, person or service, nor do they have to pay for their writings to be published. Real information, in real time, is called content.

Today people can see a strategy a mile away. So gone are the days of being sold to by craftily worded advertising messages. Today they read brand stories based on users’ experiences and opinions. Today consumers and marketers, alike, thrive on the biblical expression “The truth will set you free” …

Honestly written stories and experiences, supported by photographs taken with a mobile phone. No styling, lighting or expensive backdrops and sets: simple, straight forward realities – saying it as it is and showing it warts and all.

“ Your brand is what Google and other people say it is, not what you say it is” Mitch Joel, Six Pixels of Separation—Everyone is Connected.

These day small business have as much marketing clout as the big boys because we all have the same toys. Everyday email, websites, newsletters, blogs, social media, mobile – you name it. Small business has its own publishing platforms and “magazines” available in the form of their online tools. All they have to do is to activate and liberate these platforms to tell the world their stories in a forum where others can respond and comment.

Who better a journalist to write about a product and service than the marketer and the consumer. No lies, no fairy tales, no spinning … The aggregate of good or bad propaganda is what will stick in the consumers’ mind.

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That’s called content. That’s what persuades people to buy today. Tell me, don’t sell me!

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