The online space is great for advertising. It usually costs less to showcase your products on it than traditional mediums and has the potential to reach a far greater number of people than the old guard of media advertising (TV, radio, print) can guarantee.
But it’s no longer enough to just “dump” adverts online. Most times, they’ll simply get blocked off, or tuned out.
Most of us aren’t likely to have a second glance at a Facebook ad or watch the full length of a promotional video from a company (except it’s connected to something that really interests us). We’re always in a hurry to see something else; the adverts are just a distraction, maybe even an irritant. These days, people use online ad-blockers and press the skip button when video ads pop up on YouTube. Millions of Naira worth of ad campaign money go down the drain.
Unless you come up with exceptionally good advert copy lines or outstanding graphics and videos that tell captivating stories (and not just shove your product in people’s faces) you’re not likely to make any headway with online advertisements.
Content Marketing, to the rescue!
No, content marketing isn’t about hawking “content”. Here’s how the Content Marketing Institute defines it:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
In simpler terms, content marketing involves the use of various channels- blog posts, video, newsletters, infographics, podcasts, how-to articles -to provide valuable information to consumers and establish a loyal following that will translate to the purchase of products. In content marketing, content shared via online video channels or blog posts do not directly invite people to buy certain products; they provide information about things that matter to the audience that the marketer seeks to reach. A business that utilizes this marketing strategy does so to create a following from its target demographic. This following also has all the chances of becoming a solid customer base for that business.
An example: In 2012, Guarantee Trust Bank launched Ndani TV, an online video content platform. The channel’s video content is geared towards entertaining young people- GT Bank’s major target group. The platform was created after research showed that a significant proportion of GT Bank’s customer base was aged between 16 and 35 years. Today, it has over 95,000 subscribers and millions of views. Jade Osiberu, the creator of Ndani TV, says that it was decided upon from the start that entertaining content, not outright advertising videos, was more likely to attract young people to the channel and thus, to the bank.
“I had this quote in my idea pitch- ‘banking is boring’ -so we couldn’t upload 10-minute videos about savings accounts”. Jade said in an interview with the Guardian. “We decided to focus on great African lifestyle and entertainment content and we’ve learnt and built on that for five years.”
The benefits of this move have become quite clear: GT Bank has succeeded in catching more loyal customers young.
Since the launch of Ndani TV by GT Bank, other banks have created their own online video channels, showcasing content that isn’t blatantly advertorial but still attract people to their brand.
Why you should care
The basic message here is that the traditional way of simply presenting your wares to the online public just won’t cut it. People need a reason to come to you. You’ll have to be offering them information that they’re interested in, something they can use, for free.
The advantages are numerous. Because content marketing requires that you write blog articles, make online videos and do other things on the web that spreads the word about what you do (in a non-intrusive way), you’ll get greater visibility for your business. This could come through Google search result rankings for posts on topics related to things your business does, or social media links to such posts. It’s brand promotion without the huge costs associated or the irritation that members of the online community associated with digital media ads.
So, if you’re an IT solutions firm, you could market your company by consistently putting out how-to videos that could be used by people who want to fix issues with their laptops. Or, if yours is a real estate company, it could get some traction by publishing articles online which answer questions about housing-related matters that potential home buyers care about. Have some sort of reference to your business somewhere in the content, either as a go-to place for answers or solutions to issues raised in the article or video or as the content’s creator. It’s more attention-grabbing than just going on and on about your product.