Advertising is paying money to get in front of a group you don’t have another means to reach. It’s a gamble. It’s the hope that you can get someone’s attention for long enough to convince them to do what you want them to do. It’s been a relatively straightforward business since the 1930s or so. But when you start thinking about alternatives to advertising, that’s when it gets interesting.
American Express OPEN Forum is an alternative to advertising. Instead of spending money on banners or inserts or whatever, OPEN Forum spends money on creating a great community and content that might help your business. Let’s talk about other alternatives to straightforward advertising.
Sponsor a Blog
If your goal is to reach an audience that matters, what better way than to find someone who has a relationship with that audience? What’s your little 125x125 pixel banner ad going to do for you that won’t be done much better by sponsoring a blogger or podcaster or video blogger with a relationship in that space? Nothing, that’s what. It’s up to you to determine what will be a good yield on the money spent. But if you don’t try, you won’t know.
Create Compelling Content
Hubspot based in Boston does a great job of convincing people that their service is top without spending a dime on advertising. Their site, Website Grader, shows you what’s good or bad about your site. By the end, you’ve got a sense of what Hubspot’s service will do for you, and it’s up to you whether or not you want to spend it. Now, you might not have thought about a site that shows you the pluses and minuses of the quality of your website as being “content,” but it is. It’s the best kind. What would you rather? A whitepaper that tells you what Hubspot can do for you, or a quick report that shows you your site through Hubspot’s eyes?
What other content sells your product? Webinars work well. I’m using GoToWebinar to sell interest in my new company. You can create blog posts that help others. Again, look at what we all do here at OPEN Forum. This is a whole different kind of advertising, and it’s very fulfilling. Would you rather read an ad, or look at months and months of content written by hundreds of really successful business writers (and me)? I’m assuming the latter.
Advertising Has a Place
Advertising has a place in your ecosystem of marketing, but I look at it as the jumpstart of your other marketing efforts, not the anchor. Before you spend dollars on banners and other ad placement, look for ways to spend that money differently. The results might be more measurable and they might be quite different than you’d imagine. Throw some alternatives into your mix and sees what happens. What do you say?
Chris Brogan is president of Human Business Works, an online education and community company. He blogs regularly at chrisbrogan.com.