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Why Content Marketing Makes Advertising Unnecessary for Media Companies

And Why You Need to Emulate Their Content Strategy

Although they are in the advertising business, media companies do very little advertising for their print and online publications. This may be somewhat less true for high-profile consumer and lifestyle publications.  But for the vast majority of B2B and B2C media companies, truly insignificant sums are spent on advertising.  Why?  There are two reasons. 

  1. Because they don’t need to. 
  2. Because it doesn’t work.

Believe it or not, it all comes back to content marketing. 

As a savvy 21st century marketer, you can now apply the lessons learned by publishing companies over many decades. You, too, should consider replacing a significant chunk of your advertising dollars with a comprehensive content marketing strategy.

Why they don’t need to advertise

Here is how publishers increase the likelihood that influential buyers will purchase advertising from them.  It couldn’t be simpler:

Simply create an outstanding print or online publication filled with world-class content that provides thought leadership for their publication within their carefully targeted market.  Not only will  their readers and visitors value what they do, but their potential advertisers will value them just as much. 

Why?  Because the best marketers immerse themselves completely in their target markets.  When they find a publication that brings a market alive, it becomes a trusted partner in their ongoing acquisition of marketing knowledge.  Moreover, there is a synergy between reader loyalty and the willingness of potential advertisers to invest money with your magazine.

This fundamental truth has been unchanged from my very first publisher role at PC Tech Journal in 1983 to my last corporate gig at running Logistics Today at Penton Media more than 20 years later. 

Prospective buyers who were regular readers of every publication that I managed were dramatically more likely to accept an appointment, share their challenges, to listen carefully, and ultimately to buy advertising.  Conversely, for those buyers who were not regular readers, it was much more difficult just to get your foot in the door.

This is precisely how content marketing works.  Publishers didn’t start out to do content marketing.  But, we all knew that marketing executives who read and loved our publications, would almost invariably become our very best customers.  That’s because we were providing relevant and compelling content about the markets that they cared very much about–that is markets that they were targeting with their products and services.  These marketers made the inference that because we were providing consistently outstanding content, they could trust us as a place to put their advertising dollars.

Why publishing companies don’t get a worthwhile return on advertising dollars spent promoting their publications.

As a former publisher and owner of a small publishing company, I was acutely aware of a major challenge that we face in advertising to our buyers.  Here’s the problem: there are almost no efficient media vehicles that will reach advertising buyers.

That’s exactly the challenge I faced when I owned a small regional business magazine called,  Southwest Florida Business.  We called directly on other business owners and executives in the region.  We attended targeted business events.  We were active in the business community.  That was great, but we would have liked to do more.

We would also have loved to deliver a consistent marketing message in a targeted media vehicle that reached our buyers. Unfortunately, there was no such outlet.

Apart from our own magazine, there was no well targeted place to invest advertising dollars.  Traditionally, our most logical choices would be local newspapers, radio or TV, and the Yellow Pages.  Today, we might also consider comparable online venues.  None of these entities enabled us to target our buyers efficiently.  Any message that we delivered via traditional advertising, would be just one more form of interruption marketing.  Why?  Because only one of our choices honed in on our most important buyers.  Every other choice provided just a scattershot approach to reaching possible buyers.

What was that one choice?  Of course it was our magazine, Southwest Florida Business.  Any outbound marketing that we did, was done in the pages of our magazine.  Because we knew our magazine was very well read and respected by our buyers, we knew that our marketing message was also likely to be read and respected.

The essential content marketing lesson you can draw from the experience of thousands of publishers.

We publisher types practiced content marketing decades ago.  Of course, we were doing it by accident–and we didn’t have a name for it.  But, this is why our inadvertent content marketing strategy worked so well for so long:

  • We carefully defined a target audience that was important to our potential advertisers
  • We crafted content that would be consistently valuable to that audience.
  • We delivered publications to those targeted buyers month after month. 
  • We became a trusted source of information for those buyers
  • We were able to help our advertisers succeed because they were an integral part of that trusted information source.

Today, the dominance of the internet and social media empowers companies of every size can easily emulate best content marketing practices.  You can now dominate a market niche by delivering consistently great content that makes it easy for your prospects to buy from you. 

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Newt Barrett

Newt is a leading thinker on the new discipline of content marketing. He urges marketers to think like publishers by delivering essential, relevant, and timely information that makes customers smarter and wiser–and much more likely to become buyers. Newt is a successful publishing executive with more than 25 years of experience as both a manager and business owner. He has launched profitable publications in the high tech arena for both CMP and Ziff-Davis. He was an early player on the web in 1996 as Publishing Director of an early Yahoo competitor, NetGuideLive. As an entrepreneur, he launched Southwest Florida Business and BusinessNewsNow.com in the late nineties, later selling them to Gulfshore Media. His publication still thrives under its new name, Gulfshore Business. In addition to his sales and marketing skills, Newt is a published writer for Business Currents and Gulfshore Business magazines. He writes on topics as diverse as healthcare, education, public policy, growth, business best practices, and technology. He knows how to build great brands that serve client marketing needs. He is comfortable driving dramatic market-driven changes. Newt is recognized as a leader with the ability to move teams in new, unexplored directions. He is effective in high level sales and marketing conversations with senior executives in client organizations of all sizes. He delivers successful consulting engagements to improve products, people, and processes.

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