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The Marketing of Advertising

Posted on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 10:43 AM

A few ideas for using content marketing to boost your advertising sales.

By William Dunkerley

"Use Content Marketing to Sell Ads" was the lead article in our last issue. It gave reasons why some of the traditional methods for prospecting and selling are losing applicability in today's environment and recommended taking a look at content marketing.

This time we'll suggest a couple of options you can pursue to implement effective content marketing and use it to increase your advertising sales.

Defining Content Marketing

First though, a clarification of terms: In response to last month's article, an astute reader replied, "There's nothing new about free content to sell ads. We've been doing that for 27 years, and other magazines for far longer." That's quite true. Typically that content has appeared as informational articles in the media kit or as standalone pieces sent to targeted advertisers to advance or support the sales process. In the broadest sense, these are modes of using content in the sales and marketing process.

For the purpose of this article, I'd like to narrow that definition. By "content marketing" I'm specifically talking about using content that will attract prospective advertisers to you and that will reinforce your positive reputation with existing advertisers. I'm also talking about content that will be made available digitally. It's all about using content as bait.

The focus of this content should be something of direct interest to your target advertiser group. That might include market or industry trends, tips on how the advertiser companies can gain greater success in their market, insights into the needs and interests of the advertisers' consumer population, survey results, etc.

Modes of Content Marketing Delivery

The exact shape this content should take will depend upon your specific situation and market. But here are three general ideas that may be applicable.

1. Create a guru blog. Retain someone to write it who can become a recognized expert in the eyes of the advertisers. The blog should offer advice and insights that advertisers will trust. It must be advice that, if followed, will produce concrete value for the advertisers.

2. Produce a regular publication. This could be a newsletter or mini-magazine. It would have content similar to the guru blog, except there will be a variety of authors contributing their expertise.

3. Carry content within your own publication. Especially in some narrowly defined trade markets, the advertisers and prospects constitute a significant percentage of the readership. In that case, you can address them in the pages of your own magazine. Content would be similar to the above suggestions.

The abiding concept throughout these approaches is that they must be advertiser-centric. Keep in mind that this is not an opportunity to sell. It is a process (1) to attract and identify prospects, and (2) to reinforce and enhance your reputation with existing advertisers. The means for achieving that is the content -- content that will be genuinely valuable to the advertisers. You must eventually bring the consumers of this content into contact with you. Offering a "bonus report" or "special survey results" to those who are willing to identify themselves might be useful. However, it's best to delay asking for that contact until you have established trust.

Avoiding the Trap

There is a particular trap in pursuing content marketing. These days the Internet and inboxes are full of junk. People are bombarded with uninvited pitches, attempts to trick them, "facts" that are not factual, and information that simply is of no interest at all. People are tired of spam, tired of junk. That's the trap. It's that your content marketing, if not carried out with care, could be perceived in this negative light.

The way to avoid falling into that trap is to make your content advertiser-centric in the purest possible sense.

William Dunkerley is principal of William Dunkerley Publishing Consultants, www.publishinghelp.com.

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