A slow and steady stream of articles from reputable sources, including Inc., Fortune, and Content Marketing Institute, has been encouraging brands and their marketing teams to think and act more like publishers. They extoll those that do.
But is publishing the salvation of content marketing?
There are certainly many advantages to creating higher-quality content more consistently – increased audience growth, decreased turnover, improved engagement, better creation of brand value, etc.
It’s no surprise that the quality of content is of great importance to brands, however only about one-third of marketers say their organization is effective at content marketing. Content marketing is prolific, and to attract and retain your customers’ attention with content you need to clearly stand out.
Publishing, however, is not easy. Becoming a brand publisher is a massive, complex effort. Not every company has an inherently compelling story to tell, and not every company has the resources to consistently deliver the brand story through carefully crafted content over a long period.
Becoming a brand publisher won’t change the fact that it takes between 15 and 17 months to see a return from a content marketing investment – if it’s executed well. Throwing in more resources to become a brand publisher so higher quality content can be produced won’t solve the attention conundrum as brands compete for customers’ attention.
Ask these 2 questions
It is literally impossible for 100% of brands to be successful publishers, because the audiences do not have enough attention to go around. Given that reality, how can you determine if your brand should be a publisher? Answer these two questions:
- How interesting are you?
Take a good, honest look at your brand and figure out how interesting you are. Some enterprises have great stories to tell. Some do amazing things. Some have highly impactful thought leaders. Other businesses aren’t so captivating. If your brand isn’t all that interesting compared to others in your space, you might want to consider more effective alternatives to becoming a full-fledged brand publisher.
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- Do you have sufficient funding and leadership support to continue the endeavor and wait on a return on investment for at least two years?
Putting out top-quality content on a regular basis is no easy job by itself, and being a brand publisher requires more than that. The amount of time and resources required will greatly increase, but being a publisher is not a short-term payoff.
If the answer to either of these questions is no, then becoming a publisher probably isn’t the answer for your brand. There are still plenty of options;however, many of which have even greater potential value for many brands.
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Not brand-publisher material? Don’t give up
Media brands aside, being a publisher is not a core business objective. While being a publisher may be a more effective way to deliver meaningful value to customers and hold the audience’s attention, it’s not the only way. Customers gravitate to value, and there are many ways to provide that value other than becoming a publisher.
Shift your paradigm from thinking about content to developing resources that solve genuine customer problems.
Instead of enabling your customers to solve their own problems, develop tools that help solve problems for them. Ask yourself what problems your customers have that are readily solvable with a bit of time and effort. Analyze them, prioritize them, and solve the most critical ones that provide the best opportunity for long-term-value content creation.
Nike+ is a great example of a high-value resource done correctly. It has a clear and consistent goal, which in its words is to “Track your progress, stay motivated, and train better.” Nike+ is a tool, a community, and a content channel combined to not just tell you how to become fit but to play an active role in your fitness.
Nike could have had fitness experts contribute to a blog, magazine, or video series to talk about the same things, but no single content tactic (or combination of tactics) could provide the same amount of value as Nike+.
Plant a seed and let your audience take the reins
Not every brand has to be a great original content creator in order to publish great things. An appropriately motivated audience can do the heavy lifting if you provide them with the platform. It also empowers your audience members to increase their level of affinity for your brand.
GoPro has done this expertly. Recognizing and leveraging its users’ desire to share their experiences with the world, GoPro has ridden the wave of user-generated content to a $3.4 billion market cap. Over 6,000 videos tagged GoPro are uploaded to YouTube every day. If you were to watch all of its user-generated videos uploaded in 2014, it would take three years. By curating and rewarding the best contributors, GoPro has turned its users’ nascent desires into a virtuous cycle of ever-increasing engagement; one that includes 3.5 million YouTube subscribers, 1.5 million Twitter followers, almost 7 million Instagram followers, and more than 9 million Facebook “likes.” GoPro’s next step: monetizing the content for both the brand and its customers through a new content-licensing portal.
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If your existing content marketing efforts are becoming less effective, becoming a brand publisher is one option. That option, however, is expensive, difficult, and may only delay the onset of many of the underlying problems plaguing your content marketing program.
Rid yourself of all paradigms but the one which relies on this singular, fundamental truth: Customers will favor those brands that contribute the most value to their lives. Let that reality guide your actions, and you will soon find your audiences flocking to you.
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Cover image by Splitshire via pixabay.com
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