Welcome to the Tuesday 2¢ . It’s Tuesday, the weekend is a distant memory and it’s time to let off some steam and give our 2 cents on a hot industry topic. This week Ian Truscott realizes that modern content marketing discipline makes him - and all his fellow marketers - becoming publishers.
Recently I wrote about the supposed death of print , spoiler alert; print is not dead. But in that article, I also touched on the publishing industry (which, to the surprise of many of the cool new media kids, is not dead either) and this week, I’m digging into that.
The traditional way of producing news media (shall we call it content?) is funded through two sources; (1) subscribers buying content (magazine/newspaper) and (2) advertisers paying to be placed in front of those subscribers.
But, this isn’t just about the way the content is funded, but also how it’s created. Publishing is defined by the way its content is created around these two audiences. The more principled may consider the reader to be the most important audience, but whatever the publication, the advertiser plays a part.
Today, there are new players in the publishing game, and if you are a marketer, you and your audience are one of them.
According to Joe Pulizzi – the founder of the Content Marketing Institute who has been talking about “Content Marketing” for a decade, before it was even a blip on Google Trends - states that “Content Marketing” was born from “custom publishing”. For me that old term, while not as sexy, still rings true.
Marketers are waking up to the reality that consumers don’t care about products and services, they care about themselves.
OK, at some point later in the sales cycle they may care passionately about features and functions, but by then it’s still a selfish motivation to ensure they don’t look bad by selecting your product.
Telling the story about how your product and service makes their lives better is content marketing. Operationalizing this process within marketing requires a different mind-set, not thinking about the product, but thinking about the consumer of the content.
Once you are thinking about the consumer, you are thinking about the reader.
If you are thinking about the reader, you are a publisher.
Yes, you are no longer a marketer, on the hamster wheel of datasheets, value propositions and product content, with your loud haler shouting “me, me, me” - you are a publisher, thinking about your reader.
A reader that doesn’t want to hear “me, me, me” – they want to hear about “them, them, them”. They want to be informed, entertained, reassured, educated, motivated, whatever it is that this potential buyer (sorry – reader) needs.
Trying to create “them, them, them” content is not so easy. A datasheet with a list of product features is easy, just call engineering. Understanding what it means for the reader, then making it interesting and engaging needs work.
First step, understand your audience, then write for them.
Publishers have always done this.
They understand their niche within the audience and build a tribe around that. They define themselves with an opinion, they do research, they understand distribution (etc., etc.). All the things a modern content marketer needs to do today (if you follow the books).
Which is probably why we are hearing so much about brands becoming media companies, or brands buying media companies and journalists are hot property on marketing teams.
Publishing has moved. It’s moved to the brands. If you are in marketing, you are playing this game.
And now you are a publisher, you probably need to think and work a little differently.