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E-Marketing Performance Blog

Market Smart in Stormy Times: Market Content

Inbound marketing is better investment during tough economic timesWhile perusing LinkedIn Answers recently, I came across this discussion about whether or not content as a marketing strategy can weather tempestuous fiscal times.

“Economies around the world are stalling and US jobs reports have been low for a few months running. If recession returns to the US economy, will content marketing turn out to be a nice-to-have and easy-to-cut business strategy or is it essential to help a business weather the storm?”

The answer to growing a business during financial tempests has never been to stop marketing. It’s almost a cliché to say studies show that companies should continue to market themselves despite a downturn to stay ahead of the competition. If that’s true, then which strategies are cost-efficient and productive and which are “easy to cut”?

Don’t Just Spend on Marketing. Plan Wisely.

In 2009, Christian Shea, a principal of client marketing strategy at Lyquix, wrote a well-researched article for Marketing Profs – Marketing in a Recession: What Do the Studies Really Tell Us? I believe he got it exactly right: “It’s not that companies need to spend on marketing during the recession; rather, companies need to appropriately plan their marketing during the recession. Yes, market—but market smart.”

So, what does “marketing smart” look like? Does it include content marketing? A 2012 Hubspot study I reviewed earlier this year makes a very compelling argument for investing in inbound marketing (of which content is a major component) as opposed to traditional outbound techniques. The study, conducted in January of this year, shows that:

“Inbound marketing-dominated organizations experience a 61% lower cost per lead than organizations that predominately leverage outbound marketing. The average cost per lead for outbound-dominated businesses was $346. In comparison, the average cost per lead for businesses leveraging primarily inbound techniques was $135.”

Invest in Marketing that Reaches People Where They Are

While reducing or altogether abandoning outbound marketing is not the right decision for every company, businesses are turning more and more to digital strategies. Why? Because, more and more, that’s where the people are. The cost savings is a huge bonus.

Research group eMarketer reported in January that “U.S. online ad spending will exceed the total spent on print magazines and newspapers for the first time.” Henry Blodget,  CEO and editor-in-chief of Business Insider, last month wrote an article predicting a downward spiral for network and cable TV, similar to what has happened to newspapers.

Consumers and business professionals still want content (news, information, solutions and entertainment), but they are actively seeking it online. They want content delivered in newer, faster and more convenient ways.

All of this together points in one direction: the long-term value that digital content can create for business. I’m not talking about just any old content, of course, but content that is created for the audience you want to reach, optimized for search and socialized for awareness and links. That’s content marketing. To take a page from Lee Odden’s new book, Optimize, content isn’t just king, it’s the kingdom.

Content marketing is an essential strategy in any economy. Among marketers, it is becoming a storm in its own right.

Image credit: bloomua / 123RF Stock Photo

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