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Content Marketing vs Guerrilla Marketing

  • By Dallas McLaughlin
  • November 12, 2015

Content Marketing Is Just a Buzzword for Guerrilla Marketing

adidas guerrilla marketingHaving worked professionally and unprofessionally (get it?) in internet marketing for the last 15 years I’ve seen my share of buzzwords come and go (“360 campaign” anyone??). The most recent buzzword to reach critical mass is content marketing. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m in full support of any form of marketing that actually prioritizes human beings over metrics, but I don’t think content marketing is anything new.
When content marketing was really becoming a thing in 2013 I remember reading about the concept and thinking, “hmmm… cool. Sounds just like guerrilla marketing, but online.” Now that content marketing has moved into full blown “gets its own service tab on our website” territory, and we’ve all done our own research and implementation of our own strategies – it’s clear that content marketing is just guerrilla marketing on a Lite-Brite.
I mean look at the definition of Guerrilla Marketing as written by Jay Levinson in 1984

“I’m referring to the soul and essence of guerrilla marketing which remain as always — achieving conventional goals, such as profits and joy, with unconventional methods, such as investing energy instead of money. Guerrilla marketing is needed because it gives small businesses a delightfully unfair advantage: certainty in an uncertain world, economy in a high-priced world, simplicity in a complicated world, marketing awareness in a clueless world.

And now look at the definition of content marketing as defined by Content Marketing Institute:

Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall marketing strategy, and it focuses on owning media, not renting it. Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling.

What Can Content Marketers Learn from Guerrilla Marketing?

Once we acknowledge that content marketing isn’t a new concept, more so a new channel, it becomes really simple to growth hack (buzzword?) our way to success by leveraging what we already know about guerrilla marketing. That is, the core of guerrilla marketing is to focus the foundation of all marketing activities on 16 points:

  1. You must have commitment to your marketing program.
  2. You must see your marketing program as an investment.
  3. Your marketing program must be consistent.
  4. Your prospects must feel confident in your offering.
  5. Marketing requires patience.
  6. Marketing utilizes an assortment of weapons. (technologies)
  7. Profits will generally come subsequent to the initial sale.
  8. You must make it convenient for your customers to use your company.
  9. Great marketing has an element of amazement.
  10. Use measurement to determine success of your marketing weapons. (technologies)
  11. Demonstrate your involvement with your customers with regular follow-ups.
  12. Learn to utilize and become dependent on other businesses.
  13. Become skilled with the armament (technologies) of guerrillas.
  14. Marketing should be used to gain consent from prospects.
  15. Promote the content of your offering — the steak and the sizzle!
  16. Work to augment your marketing program and never, ever sit still.

(emphasis mine)
It doesn’t matter what you want to call it – content or guerrilla – the point is marketing is marketing, but there is more to the picture than just putting out blogs, tweeting, and making infographics. That’s not to say these things aren’t important, they are, but these should be mere details and not the backbone of your entire marketing strategy. More directly, content marketing cannot be your entire marketing strategy. However, it can be a great and highly valued spoke on your overarching marketing strategy.
So, to summarize these 16 items even further, the goal of great marketing is to attract eyeballs to your brand by providing relevant, resourceful and engaging content natively within the platforms that your target audience will choose to engage with it.
This of course is done by committing to your marketing strategy, investing in the resources to create amazing content, consistently distributing the content to build confidence within your customers, continually measuring your growth and continuing to augment your overall strategy. This requires patience and more than a top-level knowledge of the weapons (technologies) that are available to your business.
Unfortunately, there is no formula to follow, but there is an attitude, an attitude that your marketing can and will make a significant difference for your business and your customers. The core of that attitude is the application of generosity, for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do for you and your customers.
You don’t market at people, or even to people. We market for them and with them.

Dallas McLaughlin

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