If Content is the New Advertising, What Does Your Advertising Say About You?

Innovative Content

So, why do we publish all this online content, anyway?

See if this sounds right:

  • You need to attract attention and make people aware of who you are and what you do.
  • You then need to transform that attention into revenue or some other measurable benefit.

Sounds like what advertising is supposed to do, but doesn’t do so well anymore.

The plain truth is, great content is the most effective way to advertise online, because to be considered great content, it can’t look anything like what we consider advertising. But great content does need to naturally demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable about your field of expertise, and that’s why it works so well.

Think about it… the advertising we actually enjoy is often witty and entertaining, but it doesn’t persuade us to do anything. Even a dry article about tax savings tips has more promotional value than most hip television commercials.

What if that dry article on taxes had an element of theater to it? Maybe a hook that helped it reach more people who needed the information, all while exponentially enhancing the return on a relatively tiny investment?

2008 has kicked off with Gawker Media—the original proponent of the “post til you drop” approach to blogging—claiming to want fewer posts that amount to more. This is the approach I’ve practiced and preached for the last two years, and yet smart people are concerned that this “more bang per post” approach will cheapen the discourse in the blogosphere that much more.

And who can blame them for the worry? When the self-proclaimed poster boy for business blogging admits that he can’t think of ways to attract attention without being an asshat, we’ve got a problem.

What’s needed is a bit more imagination, creativity, and strategic thinking.

So, that’s what we’ll be exploring in this Innovative Content series.

Stay tuned.

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Comments

  1. Interesting. Although a lot of people I know who blog don’t do so to directly transform the attention to revenue (like a published author, a consultant or a high profile blogger such as yourself does) but rather as a personal branding strategy, I suppose one of the main points behind that whole movement is to build your career, so this makes sense to me.

    After all, “build your career” is basically just a euphemism for make more money, get a better job, or become a published author, consultant or high profile blogger, right?

    Looking forward to the series, Brian.

  2. Tiffany, although I know there are people out there who seek attention for its own sake, I would hope that any “personal branding” strategy actually translates into other tangible benefits for the blogger.

    Great comment. You’ve given me some things to think about.

  3. Brian,
    You’re right. I’m sure there are people out there blogging just to get fame or attention. I’m really referring more to those who do it to participate in a conversation, learn more about a topic, build relationships or expand their expertise in a subject, rather than to generate an income from ads or promoting their business, book or service.

    Anyway, there are those who don’t exactly blog as a part of a “business model” – but maybe we should be. Either way, I think that content as advertising is still a good analogy, because in the end, if you’re putting your name on it, you’re in a way promoting yourself.

    Thanks for the response. More food for thought!

  4. Great post Brian!

    I agree wholeheartedly with what you said about the dryest informative article having more persuasive value than a hip TV commercial. This is why blogging is so influential nowadays…what better way to convey value and expertise, all while building relationships with your prospective clients!

    I think that although many are going for attention in this day and age, many people are taking the ‘any publicity is good publicity’ approach. I do not agree. I guess that people who don’t want to work hard to provide good content have to have some angle though, right? ;)

    I love your writing and am really looking forward to this upcoming series.

  5. I’m terribly happy about the word “asshat.” It even makes me forgive RS for that weird Mahalo thing.

    I do think we’re seeing something interesting and new. It used to be that frequency was always good. Frequency was even good for content that was mostly crap, and it was especially super good for content of quality.

    Now, everyone has so much damned information vying for our attention that a little less frequency starts to be rather attractive. “Give me great stuff, yeah, but don’t choke me with it.”

    If Godin published five posts a day, would I keep subscribing? Even though I love Godin almost more than ice cream, I’m not sure I would.

  6. More is less.
    Content is advertising.
    Scoble is an asshat.

    Good things come in three’s !

  7. If the Copyblogger blog was a blanket, it would be my favorite warm fuzzy security blanket. I would carry it around with me and hold it out to others as if it were a shield, or a flag, or a kick-ass Kleenex.

    I get that this comment is kinda crappy. But your post is phenomenal. Why try and compete with that yummy goodness?

  8. For the blogs I read faithfully, it’s all for the content. If the content is great AND daily, I’ll go there. If the content is great and full of links (to other articles or free software to try or things to download), then fewer posts makes more sense. It requires some time to take advantage of the internal links, if they’re good ones.

    Kristi Holl
    http://www.KristiHoll.com
    http://www.Writers-First-Aid.blogspot.com

  9. Overall, I think bloggers are starting to realize that there’s a difference between traffic and an engaged audience. You can post 10 times a day, bringing in considerably more traffic from search engines and social media sites, but how many people are going to read all of those posts, comment on them, and tell their friends about them?

    People only have so much attention to give.

    If you want to win that attention, you don’t walk down the street, handing out hundreds of flyers about your shop on the corner; you put a product in the window that’s so mind bogglingly awesome that people stop and stare. And then you stay in your shop, hunting down a never-ending supply of awesome products to put in your window, to the point where people are waiting outside at 5 AM in the morning to see what’s coming next.

    You can do it without being an asshat, too. But I’m not sure guys like Scoble get it.

  10. Asshat. Yay. Just, yay.

    “Running out of ways to attract attention” actually makes sense because the attention strategy (tonnage, large #s of eyeballs, volume) is do friggin dated. It’s old. 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s old.

    As advertising declines in importance and the “socially mediated” marketplace gets stronger, it becomes less and less and less about whoring for mass attention and more about getting the *right* attention.

    And I don’t mean just “targeting” which is still an aggressively advertorial way to look at it. I mean media that provide real value to real people making decisions about their daily lives, careers and businesses.

    Great post & series idea.

  11. You mention about advertising being more successful if it is witty and theatrical. This is of course the case hence why virals became more popular through 2006/2007.

    It got to the point where people did not actually realise they were watching an advert, it was in a sense subliminal.

  12. Interesting.

    I definitely don’t care to read every article on mass-producing blogs…but I like having them there to choose from nonetheless. Honestly, I wish CopyBlogger had 2 posts per day…but then again, they’d need to be quality. So there’s the problem…because it takes effort to put together great posts – so unless you have something to write about it’s not worth reading.

    I just hope that articles aren’t always made for mass-reading, but rather written for the simple fact that somebody felt it was worth their time.

  13. I’m safe. If you search Google for “2008 recession” my blog is the second link. :-)

  14. Brian:

    A good post.

    The challenge is too much content and lots of it being generated by people who are really not qualified to create the content. It is comparable to the issue we would create (and sometimes have) by allowing those that are not qualified in a subject material to teach it.

    I suggest that we’ll only solve the problem when we get to ‘niche’ contnent creation/blogging where the level of expertise in the subject matter needs to be high and therefore quite a few of the ‘charlatans’ will fall by the wayside.

    IMHO, that is beginning to happen

  15. Hi Brian

    Quality over quantity, every time. But depending on why you blog, who you’re blogging for the attraction should also contain a incentive to take action of the reader – visitor.
    Conversational blogs = comments and interaction
    Business blogs (like our advice on wooden flooring blog) = clicks to ‘online’ shop or more info leaflets.

    IMHO you cannot separate content from interaction in any which way. And which way is determined by the blog-owner.

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  16. Hi Brian
    A significant difference between blogging good content and advertising is that the goal in blogging isn’t just to attract attention and make people aware of what you do, it’s to encourage them think, to feel connected, and to participate in the conversation. Sure, that can lead to revenue and other benefits, but is also a significant end in itself.

    Good content makes people feel smarter, more informed, and more connected. People are worried about the focus on page views, because good content is harder to produce than sensationalism.

    But it is what is truly valuable and will bring people back time and again.

    I’m looking forward to your series on Innovative Content. (I’m feeling smarter and more connected, already!)

  17. Yes! A balance between attracting attention and providing information
    Pamela
    http://www.proven2pay.com

  18. I much prefer the less is more strategy. Being bombarded daily with drivel and on the seventh day one good post just switches me off completely. I can not be bothered to look for the good post amongst the dross.

    So in a nutshell I think your strategy is right Brian, post when you have something worth posting and not for the sake of it.

  19. “Innovative Content, eh?”

    Sounds like a fun way to bring year 2008 in!

    Thanks

  20. Great way to kick the new year into gear- “Why does this stuff really matter?”

    What is the goal?

    Well, i would love to have loads of adoring fans but the main reason I blog is that I do enjoy it but I also want to see financial benefits from it.

    Don’t we all?

    Duh.

  21. “Dramatise your differentiating idea” – best thing Jack Trout ever taught me.

    “Reach for the stars – you might not get one, but you’ll come up with more than a handful of mud” – best thing David Ogilvy ever taught me.

    “Asshat” – best thing copyranter ever taught me.

  22. I come across too many people wanting to blog just to make money. Like any business, money is often one of the worst reasons to blog. Making money is a fine goal to have but it’s almost never works as a driving force. Passion for your content is the best reason to blog and ‘advertising yourself’ can be a great result if you do it right!

  23. yah I think great content is a good advertising medium because it travels virally becase if it so good it returns or ganic results. The nintendo wii for example spended very little in the advertising field because too many people thought the system was good system and they promoed it too people they knew which kept going. Like my blog http://livelymoney.blogspot.com is me trying to help show people how to invest so, I try to give people viable ideas to make the best returns on the market r.I don’t have to use adwords or anything that resides on paid advertising because my content is good it makes up for my advertising budget.

  24. have good content is the fisrt form of advertising that is necessary to make “traffic” on his site…

  25. Even at 61, I can say I have an imagination. However, at my age, as you might assume..I have to figure out where I put it…

    Nice information, came over from emoms. I’m new and will be back..

    Dorothy from grammology
    remember to call gram
    http://grammology.com

  26. The only people that use the word asshat are asshats. What a douche, I look forward to his self-immolation. Has he ever stopped to think that maybe no one watches the “serious” videos is because they’re even more of a joke?

  27. Brian, thanks for posting your view such a sensible issue. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve always tried to apply this principle on my own blog (showcase the best and forget the rest) and I must say that it pays back, as I attract the attention of the people I want to talk to.

    You don’t have to be a jerk to attract visitors. Provide them with wit content and your job is done.

  28. Blog, blog, blog … :)

    It’s anything one wants to make it, right?

    Some, like me, do it to maybe actually ‘help’ my prospects.

    If anything I say may help someone, and they need a great copywriter … my preference would be me!

    Many folks, apparently, have the time to spend on social media, talking/sharing ideas, thoughts, hopes and dreams — all of which is lovely.

    For me, though, mine blogging is for the engines and for any prospective client who may benefit from what I say.

    I do have a question about my strategy, though? Everyone who comes to my site is just looking for a copywriter … so they call or email me.

    I don’t know how to create a following. And I haven’t tried using my Google PPC for my blog. Guess I should, now that my site is finally fully optimized, huh?

    May each person’s blog be all they want it to be in 2008!

    To your blog-health,

    Carolyn
    http:www.kickasscopywriter.com

  29. ‘imagination, creativity, and strategic thinking’ – spot on.

    Just to expand

    ‘imagination’
    – blog (/ content) has character

    ‘creativity’
    -blog says something original (as well as being able, first, to summarize, clearly, situtions / topics)

    ‘strategic thinking’
    – blog is relevant (to reader)

  30. (P.S.

    In my last comment, you may not have been thinking of these ideas. There are lots of other useful ideas you could add (expand on) to yours ‘imagination, creativity, and strategic thinking’ . These are just a few of mine that I was thinking about at the time / have been thinking about recently. )

  31. Blogging with a business objective in mind is a topic that will develop as time goes on in my opinion.

    “call to action” is something that seems to be missing on some blogs that I have read recently…and used to be missing from my posts…but no more.

    Thank you for bringing this topic up Brian. I think it deserves a series of posts for attention.

    Joseph Ratliff
    Author of The Profitable Business Edge

  32. In my last comment, you may not have been thinking of these ideas.

    Actually Eamon, that’s pretty dead on. :-)

  33. You mention about advertising being more successful if it is witty and theatrical. This is of course the case hence why virals became more popular through 2006/2007.

    It got to the point where people did not actually realise they were watching an advert, it was in a sense subliminal.