Content Marketing vs Paid Advertising Relative to Company Growth Phase

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Marketing  |  Advertising  |  Best Practices

I’m frequently asked about advertising on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. While I’m convinced that creating original content and publishing it for free is the best strategy over the long term, I also believe there are times that the advertising programs offered by the social networks including Facebook ads, Twitter ads, LinkedIn ads, and other advertising programs make sense.

When you are publishing an important research report or ebook or video on your blog or site, “boosting” on Facebook could be a great way to spread the news. For example, when I released my New Rules of Selling deck on SlideShare, I wanted to get the word out so I looked at a bunch of ways to push it out into the world including targeted advertising. That helped me to reach new people and accounted for a few thousand views. Those people then shared which is one of many reasons this deck has nearly 300,000 views as I write this. While most views came from my own efforts (like the CTA below), the advertising helped. When there is a specific call-to-action like a valuable slide deck, advertising can work well.

Paid advertising can work for early stage companies

paid ads vs content marketing 2.jpgOn a recent HubSpot Academy Masterclass I discussed the ongoing debate among marketers in just about every market sector out there: What should the balance be between paid advertising and organic methods? While there is no “right” answer, I am biased towards delivering valuable content for free to generate organic results. I think of this as owning your marketing real estate rather than renting.

On the Masterclass, I discussed another place where paid may make sense -- with early stage companies that want to get noticed and generate leads to grow business. Early stage companies struggle with inbound marketing because they are new and haven’t had enough time to build their organic assets.

Michelle Massa at Bluehouse Group, a full service digital agency located in Burlington, Vermont, was tuned in to my HubSpot Academy Masterclass and my ideas prompted her to make this terrific graph to illustrate my point. Early stage companies may benefit from paid advertising early in their lifecycle and convert to a content marketing model over time as the business grows and matures. Read Michelle’s excellent post that elaborates on these ideas here.

Yes I am still a fan of original content, inbound marketing, and organic search results to drive business. But there are situations where some paid help is the way to go.

New Call-to-action