With the launch of Content Strategy Hub I had the honor of asking some very smart people a few questions. The topic of discussion for today: businesses and publishing.
Marketing is an essential part of any business. But I wonder: has publishing become an essential part of any business as well?
I decided to go and ask some experts. These are definitely worth going through…and when you’re done, I’d love to hear your comments!
“I’ve always aligned with the idea that all businesses are in the business of marketing. Are most businesses now in the business of publishing?”
Yes. But it is not just all businesses. It is all people, nonprofits, rock bands, churches, schools, politicians. On the web, you are what you publish. If you publish nothing, then on the web you are nothing.
One of my favorite Peter Drucker quotes is “a company is all about marketing and innovation — everything else is just overhead.” Now that might seem extreme, but the point Dr. Drucker was trying to make is that we need to be focused on serving our customers and innovating in a very customer-centered way. That can come in many forms. Perhaps a new WAY to sell. Perhaps a new PLACE to sell. Or it might involve social media content marketing. That is simply a subset of marketing. Every customer needs marketing. They may or may not need content marketing.
Today, publishing is marketing and marketing is publishing. In order to attract and retain customers in this messy word of marketing messages, brands need to develop stories that are relevant and compelling to their customers and prospects. They need to think and act like publishers, and even think of their customers as if they were subscribers.
Content marketing has been going on for hundreds of years. The difference today is that the barriers to entry into the publishing space are gone (technology, access to talent, etc.) and that the consumer is in complete control, with literally hundreds of options to gather information. Although traditional marketing will never die (think megaphone), thoughtful stories that truly help our customers with their lives and careers are a must for today’s brands.
I would, as you suspect – agree with both. I think I’d enhance that just a bit to say that businesses are now in the business of creating subscribers. This isn’t a new idea – certainly. Guy Kawasaki says “enchantment” and Seth Godin calls them your “tribes” etc.. But as Joe Pulizzi and I describe in our book – content is becoming as – or in some cases more – important to the business than the product or service itself. So, beyond “publishing” – businesses are now “story tellers”. Beyond just publishing “data” to serve the master of long-tail search optimization or providing for yet MORE information on a well-covered topic – businesses need to differentiate by producing content that engages and continues to keep their consumer engaged well beyond the initial “buy” decision. I call this creating a brand “subscriber”.
Absolutely. Any business with a web site is, in fact, already in the business of publishing, whether they realize it or not. The challenge, of course, is really grokking what that means. While a lot of businesses are nodding their heads like car dashboard doggies when they hear that mantra “Everyone is a publisher,” the truth is that many aren’t truly embracing it, and most aren’t doing it particularly well.
Most smart businesses are now in the business of demonstrating and sharing their expertise, which of course is not new. Newsletters and sales sheets have been around forever. What is new are all the digital platforms that companies can take advantage of to share their content. But the fact that you are putting something on the web is not the sole criteria. I wouldn’t call every utterance of a person/company to be publishing. Is a 140 character tweet publishing?
Publishing in my mind implies a frequency and consistency, as well as enough meat on the bone to be of real value to the consumer. Tweeting out your specials is advertising. Publishing a blog with how to articles and other useful information is publishing.
So with those boundaries in mind, I would say that quite a few companies are using content marketing tactics but far fewer are actually publishing.
I think all businesses have always been in the business of publishing, if they’ve ever run any ads; or created a media pack; or sent out a press release, etc., then essentially they’re publishers. It’s something we tend to miss, or forget about, in our rush to declare social media as the instigator of content marketing – after all, email marketing has been around a long time prior to what we class as social media today. However, I do think that the web version of content marketing – and how many “competitors” businesses are up against – makes it even more important to have not just great content, but great strategy.
All companies and organizations from enterprises to micro business have the potential to become their own media company. If they’re not, they’re missing on a great marketing opportunity.
We are all self-publishing every time we publish a post, an ebook or even post a tweet. This is not limited to personal brands. What some businesses need to realize is that this is not done with the purpose of having an online presence but as part of an inbound marketing strategy.
Not only are all companies in the business of publishing, but I would go as far as saying that all people are now in the business of publishing.
There are 7 Billion people on this planet. 2 Billion of them are already online. A doubling is expected to occur within one to two years. Within 10 years, the whole planet will be online.
We are all in the business of publishing. When my mom updates her Facebook page she is publishing content. Businesses have to go a step further however, and become content presenters. There is nothing new under the sun, and the only difference between you and countless others is how well you’re presenting the same content everyone else is presenting.
To present well, you have to be compelling, lead with emotional intelligence, be funny, shocking, more informative than the next guy, be unique, and most importantly, do something nice for this world.
As most folks know, I used to be a ‘pool guy’. In fact, I’ve owned my swimming pool company for 10 years now. But the biggest problem with our success (or lack thereof) for the first 7 years of the business was the fact that we saw ourselves as just that—Pool Guys. In 2009, when we started with the process of content marketing, we had a general epiphany in our business model—We realized we were actually a marketing company that happened to be installing swimming pools. See the difference? In our case, this shift of thought made all the difference, and has lead to a mountain of success.
So to answer your question, YES, we’re clearly a publishing company. Content is the soul of our entire business. It drives everything.
Yes, that is true. Every company is now a media company in the sense that they need to produce credible, original content to attract new customers and retain current ones. Content is now being used as a vital customer relationship management tool in many venues: on company web sites to enhance SEO, through social media channels and via mobile apps and web sites. To build a true interactive relationship with a customer, content is far superior to traditional advertising. Content allows a company to build a relationship of affinity and trust with customers, and is actionable.
Yes, all businesses have to do marketing – that’s what gets their leads in the door (or on their site), and works the wheel of turning them into hot prospects that are ready to make a purchase. Whether or not most businesses now are in the business of publishing… that really depends. I mean, yes, of course, businesses need something to represent them, whether it is a website, a brochure, business cards, some kind of informational giveaway, or whatever – but that isn’t new… that’s been true forever. When we talk about publishing, what we really mean is producing content on a regular basis, as part of a marketing strategy (a “content strategy”) – in that case, it really depends on the business’ strategy. Is content a good strategy? Yes, in many cases it is, because it is effective, affordable, and creates stable results over time, which leads to stability and security for the business. But is it the only way? No. Is it the best way? That has to be answered on a case-by-case basis for each business.
No. I would say that a rising number of companies *think* they are publishers, and, to be fair, some are. But turning marketing collateral into a blog post isn’t publishing. It is, however, a step in that direction. It shows that the marketer is trying to learn a new skill, but has to kick a little more dust off the old machine. Being a publisher is a major shift — operationally, tactically and, most of all, culturally. I think we’re seeing more companies becoming aware of the need to change. They are just struggling to learn a language in which their product isn’t the most commonly used word.
All businesses are in the business of marketing. You are not just in the advertising/consulting/renovation/insurance/whatever business — you are also in the business of marketing your advertising/consulting/renovation/insurance/whatever business. The faster business owners embrace this, the better off they will be.
I’ve always looked at marketing with its broadest definition — it encompasses all the activities that you do that create and maintain a customer relationship. Under this definition, sales, customer service, and of course, publishing all fall under “marketing”. Not to diminish the growing importance of content and publishing in our day and age, but they are only a piece of an overall marketing machine that must work in concert to create great results. For example, you can have great publishing (blogging, websites, articles, podcasts, books, white papers, you name it), but it will be for nothing if your order-takers/closers are poorly-trained. I can’t resist this gag-inducing cliche, but it works: the sum of a business’ marketing activities are like an orchestra and the boss is the conductor. Swing the baton to the right rhythm and you’ll make beautiful music. Swing it without purpose and everyone will cover their ears and head to the exits.
Most organizations are definitely in the publishing business, one way or another. In the days of bricks and mortar, there may have been less publishing, because people came into the store or office and might have been handed a brochure to supplement a person-to-person conversation. Today, it’s a web page-to-person conversation, and because organizations don’t know exactly how the conversations will progress, they write the scripts for many conversations, and publish that material on their websites. It may not seem like publishing to some people, and in those cases it shows, but make no mistake, the act of putting information on a website is publishing. Keep in mind, of course, that corporate publishing is just the means to an end. It’s publishing as an activity in the course of marketing.
All businesses, whether they make soda or space shuttles, are publishers. And, all content, is irrelevant if it is not marketed to its intended audience. The field of content marketing is focused on helping organizations get the right content to the right people at the right time in the right format and language increasingly on the device of the consumers choice.
Well publishing in this case is still marketing right? The root of it all is to create a connection (grab their attention) and nurture that connection by being a valuable resource (keep them coming back).
It is definitely true that the shift in marketing is towards companies and brands becoming more like publishers, but whether it’s publishing, hosting an event, or engaging with folks on Twitter… it’s all marketing.
I would also add that I don’t think businesses are “in the business of marketing”. They should be in the business of serving their customers and understanding that every touch point they have with their customers is marketing whether intentional or not. Consider them opportunities and take advantage of them.
Few businesses understand the power of content creation and how easy it is to publish optimized and useful content that will attract people to your business. So the answer to your question is No – but it would be yes if more people understood how powerful a well thought out and well executed content strategy is. What this means is that if you DO understand how powerful this is, and are executing it, that you are creating a market advantage over your competitors that due to the effects of compound interest will be hard for them to claw back.
Absolutely. There are three things a business today must do:
1. Have people say they are the authority on their topic
2. Show that they are the authority – through content (text, audio, video) and other means such as publishing a book
3. Be able to deliver on that reputation
The way to do this today is to create a massive amount of content and syndicate it as far and wide as possible. Thankfully we have the Internet to do that.
But it’s not as simple as it may seem. People are inundated with information today so to cut through the crap, and there’s a lot of total crap out there, you have to stand out. How you do that is different for everyone but a great way to do is through the continuous publishing of multimedia content covering every aspect of your industry, products and services.
Of course publishing without being able to capture leads is a huge fail, so having lead capture and nurture systems in place is an absolute must.
I don’t think every business has to be a publisher now, but it certainly helps many businesses. A restaurant or café doesn’t really need to invest masses in online content marketing. Sure, recipes, customer reviews, stories from the business, photos, etc might generate some interest but I don’t see it as essential. Twitter can help, say, if you’re tweeting out specials or offers, but I don’t really see that as publishing.
For many businesses though it is important to think like a publisher because content is an important way of building trust and sharing knowledge. Many customers like this. For example, if you manufacture a video recorder it’s in your interest to put a couple of How Tos up on your site. No one reads instruction manuals. If something doesn’t work, you get online and look for the video or quick tips.
Yes – the successful businesses are! An integral part of content marketing is creating great content and if a business hopes to be successful in this current climate they need to adopt content marketing principles. As a result, they will begin to publishing more and more.
I’d say any business who wants an online presence is in the business of publishing. Even if you’re a small company who wants to gain attention through social media (ie: Facebook or Twitter.)
You build a brand by doing things that are extraordinary. Unfortunately most marketing isn’t able to do this. That’s because marketing usually comes across as marketing.
Publishing is about knowing what your audience wants and giving to them for free!
As an example, let’s say you want to gain attention for your local surf shop. Your goal is to find people in the area and get them interested in your brand. You do this by publishing helpful information and content that engages an audience. This doesn’t happen by aggressively trying to get people to buy stuff!
Although I would like to believe so – I can’t say this is for certain. Why? Well, look at how businesses have progressed over the years. In the 90′s, everyone knew they needed a website but businesses are still having trouble getting themselves online. Just recently, businesses were told to get on board with social media but they’re still being resistant. I think, no matter what platform, most businesses will have trouble adapting but what we’re seeing is a great push toward content marketing as a whole because many big online businesses are showing it to be extremely effective.
I think, in time, you will see a lot more businesses with a content department along side a social media department or perhaps both of them will be integrated in some way so that you will simply have a “content marketing” department.
I know, for a fact, that content marketing is extremely effective for online business. I happen to have worked at a company that “gets it” and gave me the flexibility to write blog posts, participate in social media and create Youtube videos. The result? Our sales began to climb like madness because people weren’t just getting hammered with a marketing message – they were receiving information that the competition was too afraid to talk about.
So, I guess, yes, we’ll see a lot more businesses become publishers because they’re not just creating products – they’re creating a unique experience and the best way to do that would be through a new vehicle they may not be on board with (just yet) which is content marketing.
This is a really interesting question. I think the answer is something like: Businesses are not in the business of publishing. They are still in the business of marketing. But now, they need to think like a publisher when they market their business.
I guess it depends on your definition of publishing, but publishing content is one of the easiest entry points to market your business. Even before the Internet, businesses were doing content marketing with leaflets, direct mail and adverts, but they were (and still are) quite expensive to do. I think most businesses that place an importance on their online presence recognise that publishing content is an incredibly valuable strategy in terms of getting the attention of the right customers, so more people are leaning towards publishing content. It’s still marketing, it’s just the execution is slightly different to what we expect as “marketing”.
I think that businesses still should focus on marketing. Publishing just happens to be a marketing tool that businesses can turn to. Not all businesses need to publish content, especially if they don’t have the resources to maintain a blog or publish online.
I believe yes, and to couple that, I’d argue that they are also in the business of “programming”. In new marketing and especially when using more social internet channels, frequency and consistency are critical factors to successfully staying top of mind with your customers. Publishing comes into play in a big way when you are looking at how to offer additional value to your customers without braking your bank on discounting strategies. Programming, on the other hand, is more aligned with consistency and being able to set expectations in the minds of your customers so that they know when to come back to your online properties to get the next episode, download, video, etc. Television and radio has built an entire industry that survives on the programming model. Now that businesses can essentially build their own communication channels on a Facebook page, the same rules can apply.
It is true that marketing through original content is on the rise, especially in the B2B sector. In fact, a recent survey that my company conducted found that twice as many marketers now implement content marketing as they do print, TV or radio advertising. Why? It’s likely because there is a major void in the market. Publishers simply cannot develop and circulate content on every niche topic out there. This is why businesses have stepped up to fill the void that exists and write about the subjects on which they are experts. This kind of publishing—or as we call it, content marketing—is successful because decision makers need this kind of relevant information and have no other source from which to get it.
The challenge this creates, however, is that there is a great deal of clutter on the web which can lead to information overload. Now more than ever it is important for brands to help their customers and prospects navigate through the noise. Of course this is why I saw an opportunity in a product like Curata, which I created for marketers to utilize in finding, organizing and sharing the best, most timely content that exists on the web from trusted sources, augmented with original, published content.
In a sense yes, businesses now are all in the business of publishing. Any communications you have with your customers, any advertising you do, any press you seek, all of it can be considered publishing because that content can live forever online. The better your business becomes at solving problems or addressing the needs of your customers through content (publishing), the more effective your marketing will be.
Your Two Cents:
So there you have it.
26 29 brilliant people sharing their thoughts. What do you think? Are all businesses in the business of publishing? Or should they be? Leave your thoughts below. Let’s discuss! And don’t forget to sign up for updates …