Publishing — The Future of Marketing ?


There’s a move afoot that suggests Marketing is morphing into Publishing. In a recent webinar by Joe Pulizzi, a thought leader for content marketing, and founder of  Junta42, Pulizzi advocates the creation of a “publications” function as a central part of any web 2.0 marketing organization. By publishing, I don’t mean just a magazine or newsletter, on-line or off, but rather a full-fledged ability to engage customers in content which surrounds and supports a core value proposition. Is this the future of Marketing ?
Is Marketing Becoming More Like Publishing ?

Is Marketing Becoming More Like Publishing ?

White papers have been around forever and are a staple of B2B marketing. Magazine and newsletters are nothing new either. But, the role of publishing and content in the marketing mix came into tighter focus in 2001 with the publication of “The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business As Usual,” a sometimes over-the-top, but provocative treatise on how the web will (and has) enabled “conversational” marketing and the end of the “command and control” marketing hierarchy which reigned supreme for decades. The idea, fairly original at the time, logically suggests that marketing communications will become more complex, organic and conversational going forward.

This means that content will become more important–whether created internally or by users. Wikipedia defines publishing as “the process of production and dissemination of literature or information – the activity of making information available for public view.”  So, is Marketing becoming more like publishing ? Well, yes and no. By the traditional definition above, Marketing already is publishing. But the explosion of new media channels, information, user generated content, etc. all of which are being enabled by web 2.0, are taking content marketing to another level entirely. And this has major implications for the Marketing mix and organization.

4 Basic Content Questions

  1. Customer Needs — It’s so basic, it should hardly need stating. Content Marketing starts with your customers needs and your value proposition. There’s a tendency to rush out and begin development of content without asking basic questions like: what, if any, kind of content does my customer want ? How does content support my core value proposition ? How will it engage my customers and better meet their needs ? How will it differentiate my brand versus competition ? Answering these questions is key to deciding if a content strategy is right for your brand.
  2. Build vs. Buy — Content can be sourced internally or externally. Huge amounts of content already exist and the CMO needs to ask the tough questions: do we have any business getting into the business of creating content ? Can we really do this better than what’s out there today ? Are we better off simply buying or partnering to acquire the needed content ? What’s the role of user generated content ? Let’s face it–we’re an invention culture and need to be open to the idea that perhaps there really are others–even our customers–who could do this better.
  3. Channels — What are the most impactful Marketing contact points in our category ? Which channels–RSS feeds, blogs, news release, e-newsletter, Twitter, Facebook, etc. should we be using to communicate our content ? Are different channels required for different content ? How will they be integrated ?
  4. Organizational Structure and Processes — A new organization structure is needed for content marketing. Who creates new content ? Is it the old publishing group, or some new expanded function ? Content marketing demands new processes as well. Who approves ? When content drives organic exchanges between customers and the company, what legal and regulatory processes need to be in place to safeguard the company?

There is no doubt that Marketing IS becoming more like publishing. There are greater opportunities than ever before to develop content which envelops your core value proposition and enhances and differentiates your product or service versus competition. There are more channels to disseminate this content. And, new organizational structures and processes are required to manage this content in an integrated and impactful manner. If this is the future of Marketing, it’s one that offers Marketers greater degrees of freedom to win in the marketplace than ever before.

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9 Responses to Publishing — The Future of Marketing ?

  1. Chris Morgan (HP) says:

    Hi Randall,

    I certainly agree with Marketing —> Publishing comments but the real essence is in the difference provided by digital publishing/marketing versus traditional analog publishing.

    • beardrs says:

      Hi Chris — I agree that digital is the wellspring and driving force which is leading to the increased importance of publishing in marketing. It is simultaneously enabling many more channels of communication, and encouraging a true dialogue between companies and their consumers. This combination is a real force in driving a more publishing oriented marketing approach.
      Randall

  2. Kris says:

    In terms of the 4 Ps, does publishing cover more than some components of promotion and placement? What about for example product design and pricing? Is publishing not just one (growing) function of a marketing organization among several others?

    • beardrs says:

      Hi Kris — Thanks for the comment. I think the changes in the Marketing landscape probably warrant a complete rethink of the traditional 4P’s model. Historically, publishing would have been primarily considered “promotion” or communications, but if done well, it can actually be part of the product or service value proposition as well. I think this means that more thought needs to be given to organizational structure and the supporting processes to support this new and evolving area of marketing.
      Randall

  3. Joe Pulizzi says:

    Thanks for the shout out Randall. I agree with you that the 4P’s may not be relevant anymore. Business has been changing and has changed for good. We need to rethink how we market with publishing in mind. Keep it coming!

    • beardrs says:

      Thanks, Joe. Perhaps the 4 P’s should become the 5 P’s with the addition of content/publishing. I enjoyed your post about the Forrester projections and the decline of traditional advertising and corresponding rise of content spending. Good perspective on costs that everyone needs to keep in mind as they measure the return on marketing investment of content marketing programs.

  4. ContentKeith says:

    Thoughtful post, Randall. I particularly agree about publishing (content marketing) becoming part of the company’s value proposition. Coca-Cola isn’t just a soft drink, it delivers refreshment, and hence, delivers ‘entertainment.’ So content revolving around the concept of entertainment shouldn’t be far-fetched for Coke, and enhances what the Brand is all about….without ramming product messaging down consumers’ throats. A ‘higher-order’ value proposition isn’t about interruptive ads, but about delivering content that is solutions-oriented and valued.

    • beardrs says:

      Keith — Thanks for your comments. I agree that content marketing should support, surround and reinforce the core value proposition. I think too many Brands jump into content without really thinking through this basic construct. And, like any other smart ideas, research can help hone an focus the kind of content most valued by consumers. Additionally, I’m a big believer in not just communicating, but engaging your target with your brand promise. It’s much easier to engage consumers with relevant and value-added content that becomes part of a dialogue about the brand and it’s core promise.
      Randall

  5. […] recitation of the brand promise is unlikely to be very effective with these channels and mediums. Marketing needs to drive a clear content strategy that springs from the brand promise. Content that surrounds, supports and deepens the brand promise becomes an integral part of the PR […]

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