If you’re in the process of learning more about Inbound Marketing and content strategy for your B2B marketing efforts, odds are someone has said “You need to start thinking like a publisher!” OK, you say, thanks for the advice. Now what does that mean, and how to I do it?
If you take a step back and think about it, acting like a publisher shouldn’t be all that complicated. Publishing is, after all, one of the oldest professions, with the Sumerians often credited with creating the first crude books more than 5000 years ago, with pages fashioned from clay. But enough with the history lesson, right?
So how does a publisher think? And how does that thinking apply to B2B marketers and the world you’re competing in? Joe Pulizzi, author of Get Content, Get Customers, and the founder of the Content Marketing Institute is the guy most often credited with linking content marketing and traditional publishing philosophies. According to Pulizzi, these are the important dimensions successful publishers think about and act on, and have to be part of content marketing:
- Goal driven. If publishing is your core business, your first goal is profitability. But if you’re publishing as a marketer, your goal should be delivering a tangible benefit to the sales process, such as attracting more well-qualified leads. Well-qualified leads should turn into customers, and revenue, and profits. Start with what you want to accomplish and let that drive planning.
- Editorial strategy. Know who your target is in very discrete, descriptive terms, and then learn with some certainty what their specific needs are that your business can satisfy better than anyone. Talk to customers who know you well about why they chose you and have remained loyal. If you can, find a few prospects who are currently in the evaluation mode to find out what’s critical to them. And because your editorial strategy will be a dynamic process that continues to evolve, institutionalize the learning/listening mode so you have a steady stream of editorial energy focused on customer needs and pain.
- Production. Creating relevant, valuable content on a regular schedule is challenging work for professional publishers. The demands regular content creation places on the rest of us is why so many B2B marketers fall short as publishers. The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and CNN all have dealines they can’t miss or push back. Any marketer/publisher needs to develop the same processes and philosophies around deadlines, quantity and quality, or their efforts, and goals, will miss the target.
- Circulation. This is all about driving readership/viewership/engagement. Getting your target’s eyes, ears, and minds in touch with your content. You might also call it promotion. It all the things you do to acquire and keep your target connected to your content. It starts with knowing how they think and behave, so you’re attracting them to your stuff with offers and language that are relevant and meaningful to them, and giving them plenty of ways to consume your content with ease and simplicity. A good circulation manager keeps an eye on the analytics as well, knowing when its time to nurture existing subscribers or aggressively go after new.
- Distribution. here’s where you need to think about channels. How many different ways can you deliver your content to places your target can easily find it. Today syndication takes an almost infinite array of forms; the right syndication choices can grow reach exponentially with little cost. And if you use social media cleverly, your followers can ecome part of your distribution plan.
Thinking like a publisher isn’t complicated, but it is a lot of work. For most organizations it means bringing in or growing some skills they didn’t have before. But it also should represent a much tighter and more measurable connection between resources deployed and business generated. I can see the headline now: