I need to be clear up front that this is all based on my personal experience and understanding of the world around me. I definitely don’t have peer-reviewed study papers to back me up here. But hold on, I think you will like what I have to say.
There are different content types to get to your customer these days ‘digitally’. There is written content (like this blog post itself), there are videos and then there are podcasts. However, if you go a few step deeper, we can bucket these content types into two big segments which would be:
- Value-based content / Valuable content / Informative Content
- Entertaining content
It all comes down to the primary focus of what that specific content is trying to address. Info-based content’s main focus would be to give you value (yes, it can entertain you as well) and the entertaining content’s main focus is obviously – entertaining you.
The line often gets blurry as something can be equally informative yet entertaining (think about Neil Degrass Tyson on Joe Rogan for example) – but other than those extreme cases, we can clearly segment which content is information first content and which one is an entertainment first piece.
The question is – as a marketer or a business owner, which one should you focus on if you had to choose one? Which one will give you better ROI? Which one outperforms the other?
Let’s talk about it.
Information vs Entertainment Marketing – Which One Wins
Don’t start saying things like – Khalid, entertainment has value in itself. I KNOW. That’s not the point here. I am asking a very simple question – when you decide to create content as a marketer for a company the next time, what should be the focus? Do you want people to get ‘learnings‘ out of it? Or do you just want them to have fun?
Let’s take an example.
There’s a gym that hires you as their digital marketer. You are now tasked with creating a video that will give them customers (that’s always the end goal). How do you go about it?
Your info-based thought process might come up with a video title like 10 things you didn’t know about exercising or 5 Reasons why diet is better than exercise to lose weight – yes, these would be entertaining videos for people who are watching (especially if they are into fitness) but these are primarily informative pieces.
The fun parts of the brain then might come up with a video concept like How Joe is afraid of going to the gym as his friends make fun of him and eventually he fights his fear and gets jacked – like Jack Ryan. That’s a cool story, relatable (for me) and I can see it getting a lot of engagement on social.
The question is – which one do you choose and why?
I built my whole business out of primarily info-based content. Whether it is my YT channel (90,000 subscribers when I am writing this), Facebook page (170,000 followers as of today), or this blog that gets roughly 200,000-300,000 views every year – these are all primarily info-based portals.
Now, am I also fun as Chandler Bing and some might say better looking than Tom Cruise? Well, yes. That’s true. But the content is all about business, marketing, and self-help.
And I managed to build a half-mil/year revenue business out of all these within 3 years.
Some might say I am a bit biased but trust me, informative pieces work way better than entertaining pieces.
We have a marketing agency that does quite well with small businesses and there was a point when we decided to do some marketing about our agency on FB, YouTube, and potentially on TV or Radio. There were two options to go about it. We could do something crazy and make it fun, entertaining and try to go ‘viral’. Or we could make it somewhat interesting but primarily informative, packed with information that will help small businesses to grow their customers.
We went with the latter and never regretted it.
Build Actual Relationship
I want to create a relationship with every lead / potential customer/traffic that sees me and I think there’s no better way to do it than with value & information. Think about it for a second. Over the past 30 days, I have watched 100s of videos on Facebook Watch and YouTube. I don’t remember 99% of their names and the actual content that I binged. Yes, it was fun when I saw a dog running around a cat – but neither did I know the name of the dog nor did I care.
At the same time, I watched a few Valuetainment videos and I knew the name of the interviewer, the name of the person getting interviewed and I actually enjoyed the information they fed me.
Which relationship do you think is stronger? Where I learned something or where I saw a dog chasing a cat in a house, filmed with CCTV footage?
Now the next question – both of them have my retargeting pixel data, I have been to that cat website and also on Valuetainment. But who do you think will be able to convert me if they decide to sell something?
You get the point, right?
We Rarely Forget Our Teachers
It is tough to forget someone who taught you something valuable. Yes, we don’t remember all our teachers but we sure remember more of them than people from Hollywood. Again, what was the name of that girl Barney used to date on season 3 of How I met your Mother?
Who was it that taught me to be good at calculus? Oh yeah, I will remember him for life, even though I hated every minute of that class.
When you do value or information-based marketing, you position yourself as a teacher in front of your customers. We inherently have the utmost respect for our teachers and it generates trust as well – all of which then helps us market anything we want.
Authority Helps When You Sell Something
Remember those toothpaste ads where a lab coat guy with glasses came in to tell you how the toothpaste fights germ? Yeah, that’s authority and you can replicate that with informative content too.
Every time you teach someone something, you become a better authority in that topic to that person and when you do that at scale, you become a ‘master’ of that topic. It makes life a lot easier for you when you try to sell anything that’s even remotely related to the mother topic.
Who do you think I will get my lesson from? Someone who has shown me a beautiful ad about how learning guitar will improve my social skills with girls or someone who taught me a few chords for free in a random YouTube video?
Well, I would probably choose the second one.
Numbers Will Be Low But Conversion and the Revenue Will be High
I have seen this happen again and again in my business. My YouTube channel is not the biggest, my FB following is not the largest and I have no presence in the grand scheme of things. However, with informative content-based authority – comes higher conversion.
Let me give you some stats.
In February alone, I sold 213 copies of my course, internet marketing university (a Bengali course where I teach internet marketing).
That’s approximately 12,000 USD.
What do you think my website visitor count was to achieve that number? Well, here’s my Analytics in February:
While I received only about 20,000 visitors, I ended up making 12000 USD from the course & another 5-6k from my other services (such as content creation). That’s almost $1/visitor – which is better than 99% of monetization plans out there.
Why did that happen? How did this tiny blog make more money than bigger social influencers, YouTubers, and blogs?
Well, that’s all because of the informative authority building + value offerings.
Easy to go Cross-Platform When the Time Comes
I have seen businesses lose everything because they didn’t have any attachment with their followers / potential buyers. There’s a FB page that I love. It posts cat videos every day. Let’s assume Facebook changes their algorithm tomorrow where they decide not to show more than 10% of any page’s content to its followers – unless the page pays for reach (Facebook did it before and there’s no reason why they won’t do it again).
Every platform does it. There are YT channels with millions of subscribers but their videos get 50,000 views. Where are the rest of the subscribers? They don’t get to see those videos in their feed.
Now, back to that cat video Facebook page.
I don’t know the name of the cats, I don’t know who runs the FB page, I don’t get any information out of it, only entertainment and I don’t really have any real attachment to it.
If Facebook decides to kill that page tomorrow, they will never find me as an audience again.
Compare that with Cat Mojo. Jackson Galaxy is a popular name among cat lovers. He has a book about cats, he has a YouTube channel, a website where he teaches everything about cat parenting, he even has a show where he acts like a cat behaviorist and goes to people’s houses to fix their cats.
I follow him. I learn from him. I know him by his name. He has the authority and doesn’t matter what happens to the FB or YT algorithm, he will always be able to find me in a new platform.
This is why I think Authority-based marketing performs better in the digital landscape than entertainment. Maybe the perfect balance is somewhere in the middle but in my biased opinion, I will probably always try to go for authority + information-based marketing whenever I can.
What would you do?