You would have to be from another planet not to be bombarded with the "we're all media companies now" mantra coming from many of the leading marketing websites . But what does it mean...to be a media company or publisher (what I call content marketing)?
If you look at a traditional publisher (such as a trade magazine publisher in your industry) vs. a brand that sells products and services, the activities are very much the same. Both deliver content through social media, do videos, podcasts, blogs, newsletters, magazines, and more. Side by side, it's difficult to tell the difference...except for how the revenue comes in.
For publishers/media companies, the revenue comes in directly from the content (by sponsorship/advertising or paid content). For the rest of us, it's indirect, meaning we develop content initiatives to get customers and prospects to maintain or change behavior. If we do this right, it leads to revenue. (Yes, that's marketing.)
The challenge today is that the bar is so incredibly high. There is so much content available, only the best and most integrated (findable content) has engagement. So this means we can't just be publishers...we need to be the very best publishers in our industry. We need to position ourselves as the leading experts so we increase the likelihood and opportunity for sustained and increased revenues.
But it's not easy. We have been acting like marketers (think megaphone) for so long, it's difficult to take off our sales hats for a while and put on our publishing hats. That means creating non-salesy, educational, and valuable information that doesn't promote our services.
So, here's what you need to do:
More problem solving, less sales. Most brand-related content deals with products and services. That's a requirement, but not enough. Focus on content that solves your customers' pain points. Fostering engagement means developing compelling, constructive content as well as showing your customers a good time.
Remember, your customers don't care about you, they care about themselves. So, in order to market today, you have to develop lots of information relevant to your customers without the sales pitch.
Take the conference room test. Print out your sales and marketing content. Grab your newsletters and corporate magazines. Take all of it and put it on a conference room table. Then bring your marketing team in and do a review. Does the information talk more about you than meeting your customers' needs? If so, you have a problem.
Hire a journalist or publisher. Realize that, whether you like it or not, you have to be a publisher. If you don't have the publishing expertise in-house or have trouble taking off your sales hat, go find the talent. Even the greatest content marketers in the world (such as P&G) have outside teams that put together their content marketing.
Appoint a chief content officer (aka, The Publisher). This type of mentality is a huge shift from what you are used to. That means you need someone to own the content and conversation inside your company, take up the flag, and be committed to consistent, helpful content marketing to your customers and prospects (and manage both internal and external experts). Without executive ownership of the content marketing process, these initiatives will end up as campaigns, not dialogues.
Now get busy publishing.
Joe Pulizzi is CEO of Z Squared Media, whose brands include Junta42, the Content Marketing Institute, and SocialTract. Joe also speaks around the world about content marketing and sometimes promotes his book, "Get Content Get Customers."