Do you remember when marketing was marketing and information was information?
I began my marketing career in the mid 1980s, right after I graduated from college. For years I worked in advertising agencies creating ads… what I would call obvious marketing. Content we paid to have placed in the media to sell our clients’ products or services.
The Advertorial: The precursor to today’s information marketing?
Back in the day there was something called the advertorial. It was editorial that was usually available as a value-add to an advertising buy. When I worked in real estate advertising it was a common practice. The newspapers had an entire section each Sunday where they ran editorial content, provided by their paid advertisers. But the thing is, the entire section was labeled as advertising.
Fast-forward to today.
I believe the line between marketing and information has become increasingly blurred. Now there is an entire industry—the information marketing industry—dedicated to selling information. And it’s not the actual sales of information products that has blurred the line—I support the concept of packaging expertise into more reasonably priced books or programs for people who may not be able to afford to work with you personally—but rather the marketing tactics so often used to sell those information products.
It all started with the free taste.
You probably know this as the free report. If you have a website you probably have one. It’s where you offer free information in exchange for someone’s email address, so you can get them on your list and market to them in the future.
As someone who studied marketing in college and has been working in the marketing industry for more than 25 years, I understand and appreciate the idea behind this philosophy. I have employed it myself, and in it’s pure form I don’t have a problem with it.
My concern is that since the free gift concept was introduced, some information marketers have gotten so adept at using free information to market their paid offerings, that it’s no longer even recognizable as marketing. In fact, very often it’s designed NOT to look or feel like marketing.
And that’s the part I don’t like.
It feels dishonest. And in fact, it’s a big part of what prompted me to take a time-out from the success industry and my own business, and to research and write my book, Breaking the Spell. It made me question whether I even wanted to be involved in marketing anymore.
But, after taking a step back over the past year or so, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not marketing I dislike, it’s simply that type of marketing. And I don’t have to use or teach those tactics. I think we can use information to market, but we can, and should, make it clear that we are in fact marketing.
That’s my perspective, what’s yours?
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