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As ad formats get smaller and faster (think 135 characters in a Facebook ad or the new, oh-so-everywhere 15-second TV spots), it’s easier and cheaper than ever to get your message out. The downside? Less space and fewer words tease but they don’t engage. Even when readers want to know more about your products, services and expertise, they don’t get the message thanks to insta-ads and gnat-like attention spans.

Content marketing expert Joe Pulizzi has a solution. Instead of spending every available dollar on traditional ads, mix in substantive content with the editorial firepower to enlighten, entertain and connect emotionally. A few ideas:

  • Custom magazines geared toward your members’ areas of interest.
  • In-person seminars and workshops that showcase your expertise.
  • Blogs and social media posts that invite two-way conversation.
  • White papers and e-books.
  • Articles for publication in local papers or magazines that tell real success stories related to your membership.

Why bother? Content connects.

“Content marketing is a different way of approaching people,” says Pulizzi. “Most consumers don’t care about companies; they care about themselves. So, if the messages you’re putting out there are all about your company – your products, your services, traditional advertising – then why would consumers pick your message out of the thousands that are out there vying for their attention?”

Content marketing, on the other hand, offers information your members and potential members actually want. “You aren’t telling people about the four percent mortgage you’re offering today. You’re saying, ‘Here’s a fantastic story about what happened to Sheila on Friday when she applied for a loan,’” says Pulizzi. Alternatively, you might offer advice on raising one’s credit score or buying a foreclosed home in your area. Real content gives readers the opportunity to gain valuable insight – and to identify with your brand and the experiences connected with it.

As Pulizzi sees it, engaging people through traditional advertising is getting harder. But that doesn’t mean he recommends halting your ad program. “Content marketing works best as part of an integrated marketing program,” he says. “That said, why would you spend on advertising without something to go with it that engages consumers?”

Curious? Check out a few sites that do content marketing the right way.Workshifting.com – brainchild of the folks behind GoToMeeting.com – covers the remote office lifestyle in all its hectic glory. Out-Law.com is the go-to site for any and all things related to IT and e-commerce law. Its “sponsor,” UK law firm Pinsent Masons, uses the site as its sole source of marketing.

Find out the rest of Joe Pulizzi’s story in the Fall issue of THINK magazine. You can also receive a daily email on the ins and outs of content marketing by visiting the Content Marketing Institute and signing up.