Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

Chapter 7: Act Like Content

Executive Summary:

Why do so many people confuse Google’s paid and organic listings?

The content is a bunch of blue links. The ads are a bunch of blue links. Google goes to great lengths to position ads as content — in some cases, “position” is literal as in a recent move to shrink the white space between the organic search listings and the sponsored listings on the right rail of Google.com.

One of the keys to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is having a diverse number of authoritative websites linking to yours. When returning results for a given search query, Google looks for pages with relevant, trust-worthy content. This is typically not the domain of advertising.

Intuit has built a library of small business resources to attract the Google spider as well as potential customers.

American Express built a robust small business center through its OPEN forum program.

Visa took it one step further by creating a small business network within Facebook.

They key is to pick a relevant niche to which you can add value. Then develop content that provides thought-leadership on that niche without being too salesy.

FedEx picked the theme of “Access” as its niche and built a huge campaign around it.

Branded entertainment is another method of acting like content. Funny or Die has capitalized on this growing trend and built an entire business around brand integration into its professionally produced videos.

Think of content distribution like product sampling.

Select Quotes:

“The future is free in a word where content is king.”

– Ed Wise, VP, Eastern Sales, Funny or Die, @EdFunnyOrDie

“Content is king is a cliché but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.”

– Scott Shamberg, SVP, Marketing and Media, Critical Mass, @Shamberg

“Anyone who says that content is not important is not familiar with the space.”

– Jeff Levick, President, Global Advertising and Strategy, AOL, @JeffLevick

“Creating a fully conversant brand through the use of content is trickier but ultimately much more fulfilling for the end-user interacting with it.”

– Scott Hagedorn, U.S. CEO, PHD, @ShaggyX

“All brands must act more like publishers, in every nuance.”

– John Battelle, Founder and CEO, Federated Media Publishing, @JohnBattelle

Final Thought:

The best way to act like content is not to put on an act.

Updates:

Sept. 23, 2010: Per Dave Morgan, Advertising IS Content.

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