Can content marketing be as powerful as advertising?

That is the new question being asked by marketing folks worldwide. Since clients are in search of sales lift (no matter were it comes from or how), it is a question worth exploring.

Here are some convincing facts. Seven out of 10 consumers prefer to read a collection of articles in their decision process toward making a purchase than an ad. As for building stronger relationships with potential customers, 78% of consumers say that content is better than ads and 69% of consumers trust editorial content (that’s 2X more than ads).So what makes great content? It involves rethinking the narrative from “pushing” a customer to buy to “pulling” customers toward your product. Don’t just tell them that you have a better toothbrush, show them why and have 20 people claiming that it really is better. Remember that interesting content is one of three reasons consumers follow brands via social media. If you aren’t blogging, do it. Active corporate blogs in the B2B world generates 67% more lead per month.

Lastly, I hope that you don’t assume that only content will drive sales. Successful companies understand that advertising is key to reaching a broad enough audience to create interest. That advertising needs to include an invitation to learn more online and other engagement venues where content can convince potential customers to make the buy. Content alone, in most cases, is still not powerful enough in its reach for most niche products. Only 38% of companies have a defined content marketing strategy. That means that if you haven’t done so, make 2013 the year that you put your “pull” on.