Will Content Marketing Replace Advertising?
By now we can all see that content marketing is playing a bigger and bigger role in the successes or failures of almost every company trying to make it in this internet-crazed world, but what is the end goal of content marketing? The easiest answer is that content marketing is there to affect each and every company’s bottom-line: to help make money. As Trapit CEO Gary Griffiths points out over on Wired Innovation Insights, the rise of content marketing marks “The end of advertising as we’ve known it.” If you take one more step back, a big part of the company’s bottom-line goal is to gain a loyal following by providing your audience with something of utility or interest. If someone is coming back to you for content over and over again, the chances are high that you have given that person one of those two things – either something that is of great usefulness to them, or something that is just plain fascinating. Of course, both are subjective, but marketers should keep this in mind when crafting any kind of content for their audience. Is it useful? Is it interesting?
The natural inclination for most marketers is probably to lean towards content that is useful and informative. Of course there is nothing wrong with some good helpful content based on your industry, but sometimes a simple dose of interesting can give you an even bigger return. This past Spring, the advertising world and Pepsi MAX gave us a great example of how something purely fun and interesting can be a great marketing tactic. With the help of Gifted Youth (part of Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die company), Pepsi MAX created a video that seemed to show famous driver Jeff Gordon, in disguise, taking an unsuspecting car salesman out for a joy ride. While the video is presumed to be less-than-authentic for a handful of reasons, the results remain the same. The supposed prank went viral, and over 40 million YouTube views later, Pepsi MAX can sit back and admire their content marketing handiwork.
Pepsi MAX did two notable things with this video ad. First, they decided to focus on entertaining their audience – providing something of interest – and run with it. They chose interesting over useful and went as far with it as they possibly could. They created something purely in the hopes of entertaining their audience with a piece of surprising and fun content, and then attached their brand name to it. Second, they did it in a format that they knew their audience already loved. They took the strategy and shock value of Punk’d and combined it with the viral nature of the internet with smashing success. Even though the video is clearly an ad, it’s also something that would fit right in on the Reddit front page or the Facebook news feeds of everyone you know. And that’s what made it such a success.
The takeaway here is that sometimes giving your audience exactly what they want is the best way to make an impact. Sure, give them what they need, too, but there’s no harm in creating a piece of content solely to entertain your followers. In fact, if it can get you 40 million YouTube views, it’s probably a fantastic idea. Deliver it in a format that you know your audience is accustomed to, and watch it go.