The proven tactics and techniques at the heart of content marketing are also driving results in advertising campaigns.

Since it was first introduced some 30 years ago, content marketing has gone through several evolutions establishing itself as a cost efficient and highly effective way to cut through the noise of online messaging and engage, connect and inspire audiences.  When done well, content marketing provides target audiences with the type of information they want in the way they want to receive it and on the platforms they prefer – all in a manner that feels natural.

By building brand awareness and a sense of community, content marketing ultimately helps target customers convert to actual buyers.

The proven techniques at the heart of content marketing can also help ensure advertising campaigns achieve their goals and drive a positive return on investment – and business growth.

In this blog, Postmedia is sharing five common advertising techniques adapted from the world of content marketing: storytelling, emotional appeal, bandwagon pressuring (a.k.a. bandwagon advertising), endorsements/influencers and social proof.

What is content marketing?

Hubspot defines content marketing as “the process of planning, creating, distributing, sharing, and publishing content via channels such as social media, blogs, websites, podcasts, apps, press releases, print publications, and more. The goal is to reach your target audience and increase brand awareness, sales, engagement, and loyalty.”

The content itself can take many forms, from blogs and social media posts to infographics and videos. Visual storytelling continues to gain traction with consumers and marketers. Some 86 per cent of businesses already use video as a marketing tool and 92 per cent of marketers have made it an important part of their marketing strategy.

Benefits of adapting content marketing techniques in your ad campaigns

  • Improved visibility because content marketing puts the customer – not sales – first.
  • Increased trust with your target audience because you are sharing information they can use.
  • Enhanced engagement and emotional connection with your target audience.

Five common advertising techniques using content marketing


Brands have long used storytelling in traditional media to connect with their target audiences. The difference in today’s digital landscape is how stories are created and where they are distributed. Marketers now have access to multimedia (video, audio, images, infographics, etc.) to develop and share content. Regardless of how a story is created and where it lands, the most important thing is that the narrative/message at the centre of the advertising campaign is compelling and resonates with the audience. The story can be based on the brand’s history or those of its employees. It can be inspired by customer experiences or what’s happening in the world. To be effective, storytelling in advertising must have the following four key components:

  • The ability to quickly engage the audience. This is particularly important in visual storytelling where content creators have eight seconds to capture and hold the audience’s attention to the end of the story.
  • A focus on education. The story exists to provide information the target audience can use.
  • A sense of connection. The audience should feel invested in the story.
  • A call to action. This will help ensure your target audience takes the action you want them to take.

Emotional appeal

Emotional appeal is one of the fundamental aspects of effective storytelling. Being human and persuasive, putting yourself in your audience’s mindset and relating specific experiences that highlight shared values helps build an emotional connection. The ad campaign “Let’s raise Generation Equal” by India’s Flipkart has a young girl and young boy making an emotional appeal to their parents – and viewers – to raise them as equals and avoid the limitations of traditional gender-based expectations.

Tip: To create an emotional connection with your target audience you have to know and understand their hopes and fears and what motivates them.

Bandwagon pressuring (a.k.a. bandwagon advertising)

This technique is about being persuasive and tapping into your target audience’s psychology, specifically their fear of missing out and desire to be part of the in crowd. Catchy slogans are a particularly successful tactic in bandwagon advertising. Nike’s “Just do it” slogan is perhaps the best known and executed. The key is to ensure the bandwagon slogan is memorable, easy to repeat and accesses a shared sense of community/purpose. At their core, bandwagon ads are designed to convince people their life will be better if they do what so many others are already doing. It’s important to avoid being pushy or overpromising and under-delivering, as this may leave people feeling manipulated.

Social proof

Getting people to share content about you is one of the most effective ways to build brand awareness and credibility. The more social shares, the greater your reach. Adding social badges to display and shopping ads, developing customer case studies and posting customer testimonials are other ways to showcase social proof that your product or solution is helping real people and companies.

Endorsements/social media influencers

This technique involves brands turning to individuals with followers that resemble their target audiences to use their influence to promote the brand. The influencers create the ad content, either using brand guidelines or not, and share it on their social media channels. The influencers can be compensated through an affiliate marketing relationship, pay-per-click payment model or payments for each sponsored post. In all cases, authenticity is critical.

Adapting tried-and-true content marketing techniques in your advertising campaigns can help ensure a positive return on investment – and drive sales.