When I used to sell print ads in a national sports publication I was always a proponent of advertorials when it related products or services needing additional explanation. Clients would be able to use a short "article" to detail solutions to problems or discuss certain issues relevant to the target audience. I thought this was great and usually my clients saw some great results.
Recently, while reading the newspaper (yes, I am a HUGE fan of newspapers and still read the print edition of my local newspaper each day), I came across one of these advertorials and it made me think about the differences between a print advertorial and inbound marketing (aka blogging).
One of the biggest differences is that advertorials in a print publication are a one and done instance (unless you buy frequency like your ad rep encourages).
With blogging you are able to publish as much as you want AND (a big and here) your blogs last FOREVER on the Internet and can be found in search results long after the blog was published.
Sometimes blog posts aren't discovered for awhile and don't receive a large quantity of views until months after they are published. But that's okay... A large wealth of content that lives on your blog is there forever. Compare this library of online content you are creating to the print advertorial that has to be seen on that specific day (if a daily) and is never seen again. It's clear that the blog has superiority in this respect.
Another big difference between advertorials and blogging is that with blogging you own the means to syndicate and distribute your content, versus relying on the chosen media to do that for you. I will say that an advertorial in a national publication or city newspaper will get you the eyeballs you desire, but again it's only one day. It might be more challenging to syndicate your own blog content via social media because you probably don't have a million Twitter followers or Facebook likes, but you are in control of the content and how it's distributed.
I think that the mass distribution of print publications does trump the blog if you need to get seen immediately. However, if you take some time to let the content grow on your site, and optimize with SEO, you can get some great results.
Posting a few blog posts here and there won't do much for you. This can also be said for advertorials. However, to buy an advertorial two to three times per week in a well read publication is cost prohibitive for most marketers but posting a blog two to three times a week is feasible and a best practice we recommend.
My advice... Start a blog, write a few posts that could be used as an advertorial, and buy some space in your local newspaper in the section that targets your prospective clients. Use that advertorial to promote your blog by including in the copy "visit our blog to learn more" and of course, include the URL of your blog.
If you would like additional information on how to integrate traditional print advertising with inbound marketing, or need help with understanding inbound marketing and how it applies to your business, you should come to our next Inbound Marketing Forum on May 16th in Dallas.
Brian Hasenbauer is an Inbound Marketing Consultant at The Center for Sales Strategy.