Or is this a classic love triangle?
Of late traditional marketing has been excluded from the conversation. Some critics are saying that content marketing is nothing more than a fad. Others think that great content will be found by buyers without any search engine marketing. Do they work independently or are they better together?
When we were kids in school it was always awkward to have a group of three. Someone always felt left out. Inevitably feelings were hurt. When we got a little older and started dating it was even worse. Having a third wheel made things really uncomfortable.
And then we matured. Going to lunch with your two best friends and them getting along wasn’t so threatening. In fact it was fun. Taking a project and dividing it into three rather than two made infinitely more sense. We started to focus on the qualities and the overlap that make a strong team.
So can traditional marketing, content marketing, and search engine marketing be best friends? Or is three a crowd? And why does it matter?
It matters because we are inundated by experts telling us to forget traditional marketing and publish tons of content. It matters because we are struggling to get optimized for search engines. It matters because getting it wrong is expensive, inefficient, and downright discouraging.
Let’s take a high level look at each to determine if any of the three should be unfriended.
Traditional marketing is aggressive in that it pushes information out to grab the attention of potential buyers. It builds a one-way relationship to tell the ideal customers what to buy by promising them the features and benefits of the product.
Think of traditional marketing as that friend who’s sometimes embarrassingly direct. She’s also the one that you’re glad you have around when it’s time to get things done. She’s passionate and works tirelessly to deliver.
There’s no doubt she’s a magnet because she can attract and repel. Her style must be used wisely and fitted to situations that lend themselves to high impact. She’s an extrovert and prefers a crowd to one-on-one situations.
Content marketing is passive, seeking to draw the target audience in and influence using education and information. Content marketing builds a two-way relationship by engaging a specific target market and enabling them to easily interact at their own pace.
Think of content marketing as your friend who’s the matchmaker. She’s good at getting people together and striking up interesting conversations. She likes to see everyone getting along and makes sure no-one gets left out.
Her style works really well in a room full of strangers. She’ll make sure that everyone makes a new friend and learns something useful. She likes to build trust and works the room one-by-one.
Search engine marketing promotes business websites by improving their visibility in search results. It quietly collects information and authority created by content marketing and couples it with advertising to power a comprehensive search.
Think of search engine marketing as your friend who doesn’t say much but when she does it’s right on target. Some people think she’s unemotional but she goes to great pains to consider all factors rather than rushing to judgment.
Her style is to listen closely, gather the details, and offer a solution. She’s a problem-solver by nature and the glue that holds everyone else together.
Now imagine the three of them together. While traditional marketing is entertaining the crowd, content marketing is introducing people, and search engine marketing is passing out the hors d’oeuvres, managing the room temperature and the music, and making sure everything is considered.
Guests will drift around the room. Some engaging with traditional marketing and others with content marketing and some with both. Search engine marketing will notice how they respond and what digital actions they take as a result. She’ll also notice when they lean in and when they leave the party.
It’s easy to see why traditional marketing and content marketing are often caught in an “either/or” proposition and how search engine marketing becomes an afterthought.
If you are willing to put these three friends in a room they will work together to create positive brand awareness and drive revenue opportunities and subsequently sales.
To banish one or other from the room is a disservice. Each plays a distinct role and has to be deployed in measures that can be tied back to business and marketing goals, the product, and the audience.
The reality is that traditional marketing, content marketing, and search engine marketing can get along. In fact, to meet your marketing goals they have to get along. They bring out the best in each other. What one lacks, the other brings in different doses for each situation. Just like good friends.