Where the original question used to be whether to market with content or not, content marketers have now found themselves with a dizzying amount of choices on how to do it best.
Just as most companies have gotten comfortable with content marketing, it is evolving to meet the needs of the very marketers that help shape it. Enter brand publishing—a scaled, hyper-efficient level of content marketing that operates more like a media company.
The end goal is still the same — to create, cultivate and share meaningful, valuable content with our audiences — but without scrambling for resources or losing sight of the true purpose of said content as it relates to the company as a whole.
In order to get back on the right track, the time has come to think more like a brand publisher. Let’s take a look at a few ways brand publishers are staying ahead of the game — and how you can, too.
Brand publishers hire strategically
According to Marketing expert and consultant Neil Patel, there’s been a consistent shift away from content churning in recent years:
“The brands experiencing the most success with content marketing aren’t just flooding their audience with content. They’re taking a media publishing approach.”
How do you operate like a publisher? You hire the right people, and those with a journalistic background are a must. One common approach for tooling a brand publishing team can include both insourcing key talent and outsourcing writers and researchers. At PowerPost, we hire talent to fit a ‘newsroom’ approach, arming ourselves with a variety journalists and creatives. While there is no single “right way” to build a content team – the best way to hire talent is by determining which skills you need most.
It helps if you hire hybrids—that is, employees that can wear multiple hats. Although this isn’t a new concept for the marketing industry, it’s become a crucial component for successfully operating a content team efficiently.
Consider, for example, a skilled journalist capable of writing, editing, and researching for various forms of content and social media. Now, it’s possible the same person also has the ability to optimize for SEO and analyze monthly data. Looks like you have a superstar.
Brand publishers influence unique audiences
You most likely already know who your audience is, and those typical qualifiers like age, gender, demographics — but what you most need to know is, who are they really?
Once you’ve identified what’s meaningful to your audience, you also have to consider at what stage they are in of the buyer’s journey.
As you know, it’s often viewed as a funnel in the eyes of marketing and sales teams and simplified into three stages of awareness, consideration and decision.
While we all use this same funnel as a basis, marketers often seem to forget about the later stages of the buyer’s journey. In fact, it’s something more than just marketers are guilty of.
Often, marketing teams focus on posting post after post after post and, while it looks good, no one is actually reading them — not even your internal team.
Publishers, on the other hand, differentiate their content for unique or ‘niche’ audiences in order to break through the noise and truly tell the brand’s story. By doing so, publishers are able to inspire and delight their audiences throughout every step of the journey.
5 Stage Buyer’s Journey
Another key factor is determining what type of content is most effective for your unique audience. But wait, won’t that be different for everyone?
Again, if we go back to the core elements, all content should have the same aim: to create positive connections with prospects and existing customers.
“We are seeing brands have much more success when there is a process for creating consistent and integrated experiences. And the key is that these experiences are solely designed with the purpose to create delight at every single stage of the customer journey.” – Robert Rose, The Content Advisory
Whether it’s a piece of content that’s aimed to drive a prospect to make a purchasing decision, or simply something to appeal to their interests, as long as it continues to tell your brand’s story in a consistent, compelling way and is valuable to your audience, then you’re still on the right track.
Brand publishers are in it for the long haul
You’re always going to be under pressure from stakeholders, who are mostly interested in how you’re increasing sales or improving ROI?
However, brand publishers are changing the conversation and focusing on updated metrics and KPIs. Content marketing has always been about the long game, but it lacked the ability to present progress in a way that made sense to the C-Suite. A shift to metrics like share of voice that showcase exactly how your content program is helping you beat your competitors is something any executive will appreciate.
Recent statistics prove brands are rewarded when they approach marketing efforts by thinking like content publishers:
- The average cost to generate a lead through inbound marketing ($143) is about half the average for outbound marketing ($373).
- ‘Interesting content’ is cited as one of the top three reasons people follow brands on social media.
While marketing is a deliberate sales tool, your goal should be to reach prospects just as often as current customers. After all, this is how customers are ultimately converted from prospects to advocates for your brand.
One of the best ways to gain attention is through thought leadership. While your efforts may not take off immediately, thought leadership and nurturing customer relationships will bolster your sales over time. A few good examples of content that can establish your brand as an industry expert or thought leader include educational webinars, annual reports on industry trends, video reviews or even podcasts— just to name a few.
Despite what you may think, valuable brand content doesn’t exist in a void. In fact, it’s an effective medium for brands to map themselves back to a broader narrative: the story a brand tells about itself.
The term content marketing suggests that the purpose of content exists to sell you a product when it really exists to tell you a story and have the community engage with that story.
When brands make that decision of whether or not to market with content (and, in reality, our world today has already made that decision for them), they need to place themselves in the mindset of a brand publisher.
So, next time you hear the word “publisher,” forget about The New York Times, BuzzFeed, or The Washington Post, and think about your brand instead.
Want more? download our new eBook!
The Brand Publishing Roadmap
In this new eBook, we’re laying down the framework to organize, structure and scale your publishing operation like a real media company. With the strategy and tools we lay out, you will feel like you’ve doubled your content staff overnight!