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The Content Marketing Secret of Small Publishers

When You Deliver Great Content and Control a Critical Buyer Database You Drive Sales

Content Marketing Journal

When You Deliver Great Content and Control a Critical Buyer Database You Drive Sales
Although they are in the advertising business, small publishing companies have never done much advertising for their magazines. The reasons were simple, but not necessarily obvious: They didn’t have to—and it wouldn’t work if they tried it.

By emulating the best practices of small publishing companies, you can minimize traditional marketing costs, too. Believe it or not, it all comes back to content marketing. 

marketing chart close up with handWhy publishers can market effectively without advertising
Here is how publishers increase the likelihood that influential buyers will purchase advertising from them.  It couldn’t be simpler. Simply create an outstanding magazine filled with world-class content that provides thought leadership for their publication within their carefully targeted market.  Not only will  their subscribers value what they do, but their potential advertisers will value them just as much. 

Unfortunately, current business realities are bringing even the best publishers to grief.  But, that means you are even better positioned to benefit from effective content marketing.  

Here’s what to emulate:
The best marketers immerse themselves completely in their target markets.  When they find a publication that brings a market alive, it will become 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.  As a content marketer, it’s even better. Your readers are your buyers.

As a publisher or as a content marketer, your readers trust you and are more likely to buy
It has been universally true that prospective buyers who are regular readers of every publication that I managed were dramatically more likely to accept an appointment, to listen carefully to what you had to say, 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–let alone to persuade them to buy advertising.

This, of course, is precisely the way that 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 publishers can’t get a decent ROI on traditional advertising
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 external 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.  More recently, 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 lessons you can draw from the experience of thousands of publishers
We publisher types were practicing content marketing 25 years 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, because of the tsunami of buying behavior changes and the concurrent ascendance of the Internet, companies of every size can easily emulate best content marketing practices.  Of course, these trends are making it much more difficult for publishing companies to survive because smart marketers are using content marketing to establish their own thought leadership. 

That is a sad,  unfortunate and probably irreversible trend.  But that very same trend now offers you an unparalleled opportunity to 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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