As PowerPost noted recently, the content marketing landscape is rather crowded at the moment. The number of brands and businesses engaging in content marketing has skyrocketed. The number of businesses creating technological solutions to monitor, create and deliver content marketing efforts has swelled with that demand.
In a large, ever-changing industry, the outlook can become confusing. Naturally, any business in the content marketing game wants to know where it stands. That’s why we’re asking, where does brand publishing fit into the content marketing landscape?
Hopefully, we can help create a clearer picture.
What is content marketing?
If you’re reading this, you probably know what content marketing is. However, it doesn’t hurt to get back to the basics occasionally. Who better to ask than the Content Marketing Institute? CMI defines content marketing this way:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Copyblogger has a similar definition:
“Content Marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers.”
As CMI notes, the benefits of content marketing are threefold: increased sales, cost savings and better, more loyal customers. This is because quality content can be valuable and connect with people in a way that other forms of information cannot.
It stands to reason that companies helping brands with their content marketing via technological solutions and services would also engage in themselves. For instance, PowerPost engages in brand publishing.
But what exactly does that mean?
What is brand publishing?
If the above is content marketing, how is brand publishing meaningfully different from it? In short, you run your content marketing team or department like a publisher. Our eBook, the Brand Publishing Roadmap, maps out a few key differentiators of brand publishers:
- They embrace the idea that they are a media company and adopt an organizational governance around the principles of journalism.
- They rely on owned media channels to serve as the epicenter of all marketing communications.
- They make an uncompromising commitment to consistently creating, publishing and promoting useful, entertaining and inspiring content to draw potential buyers closer to their brand.
- They organize their operation to produce quality media at scale.
- They commit to using data to inform all strategic decisions.
Brand publishers are putting real thought behind their content program. They’re not mindlessly publishing just to publish. They map out a plan and adhere to a methodology aimed at delivering efficiency and efficacy. Industry influencer and consultant Neil Patel has seen the results from brands that have shifted away from content churning:
“The brands experiencing the most success with content marketing aren’t just flooding their audience with content. They’re taking a media publishing approach.”
So considering this, we can see that brand publishing is a small subset of the content marketing industry. Here’s how the rest of the landscape breaks down.
Content Marketing Landscape
According to an infographic produced by Scripted, there are five types of content marketing companies and five types of content marketing customers.
Content Marketing Companies
Obviously, these aren’t the only types of content marketing tools out there, and there’s definitely overlap between categories—as PowerPost proves. But it’s a baseline for understanding content marketing ecosystem. Next, we have the audiences.
Content Marketing Audiences
Thought leadership: Customers looking for thought leadership content don’t need regular content production. Instead, they want high-quality, in-depth pieces of content like white papers that will speak to their brand’s expertise in the field.
Brand publishing: Customers are looking to engage their customers with relevant, publisher-quality content on a regular basis. This could take the form of a blog, independent website or magazine.
High-quality universal content: Customers are looking for frequent high-quality content to engage their customers. This is similar to brand publishing but is not approached with a publishing ethos.
SEO: Customers need a high volume of content designed to keep them relevant in search engine rankings. They are likely relying on paid advertising arbitrage.
Product descriptions: Customers—usually eCommerce companies—need optimized descriptions as their offerings expand or change.
It’s worth noting that these audiences are willing to pay different prices for the type of content. As one might expect, Scripted found that customers were willing to pay more for high-quality thought leadership and brand publishing content—50 cents-$2 and 25 cents-$1 per word, respectively. On the other hand, people are only willing to pay less than a nickel, 1 cent-3 cents a word, for product descriptions.
One thing this chart doesn’t quite express, though, is overlap between these categories. For instance, it’s our opinion that brand publishing contributes to SEO by regularly stocking your website with thoughtful, useful content. In turn, that commitment will aid your search rankings.
Furthermore, it also leads to thought leadership and often brand publishing content strategies that include big pieces of content, like an eBook or white paper, that help develop thought leadership.
And keep in mind this isn’t the only way to look at the landscape. This year, Scott Brinker at the Chief Marketing Technologist Blog broke down the marketing technology industry more broadly in his annual Martech 5,000 super graphic:
- Advertising and promotion
- Content and experience
- Social and relationships
- Commerce and sales
In this model, content marketing is a moderate subset of content and experience, making brand publishing an even smaller subset of that. In all, Brinker’s graphic counted 6,829 marketing technology solutions from 6,242 unique marketing technology vendors.
Brinker’s yearly report also notes that growth among marketing technology solutions clocked in at 27 percent last year. Additionally, he points out that, “2017 was a record year with over $14 billion invested in the sector.”
Find Your Place
As we can see, the content marketing landscape can seem vast and at times, confusing. So, the distinction between that broad category and brand publishing can be negligible to the average person—even the average marketer.
But brand publishers are the select few—like the special forces of content marketing—who are committed to the highest quality content that includes a long-term strategy. The internet has made consumers increasingly savvy, and they’re not going to fall for an insincere quick sell anymore.
It takes time to do things right and build an audience, but it will be worth it, as the data already shows. The average cost to generate a lead through inbound marketing ($143) is about half the average for outbound marketing ($373). Not to mention, “interesting content” is cited as one of the top three reasons people follow brands on social media. Beyond the numbers, brand publishing will also foster a more authentic connection with your audience. One that will not only earn you customers, but brand advocates.
When you think about the big picture, you must ask yourself: Where and who you want to be? Do you want to be just another content marketer posting just to post, or do you want to be a brand publisher?
No matter where you are now in the content marketing landscape, you can find your way to brand publishing with our eBook, the Brand Publishing Roadmap!