Content marketing and brand publishing: the terms are often used interchangeably, and now even more concurrently, but what is their relationship and how are they evolving together?
And, how do you make the transition from content marketer to brand publisher?
Content marketing is being reinvented and taken to a new level, and some of the world’s most successful brands are already purporting exponential success thanks to the publisher's mindset.
In the wake of content saturation and multifarious outlets for broadcasting, publishing and sharing, ‘anyone can be a journalist’, and this is something we, as marketers, must now take advantage of.
More importantly, this is why brands need to shift the focus towards 'media'.
Simply writing and publishing blog articles and eBooks isn't enough to obtain that coveted 'visionary status'. And you'll find that those who do are focusing on a core story-telling strategy as the crux of their brand publishing journey.
Is it really effective?
Every company is, or at least can become a media company in its own right.
It's about encompassing the right channels, the right narrative and the right principles.
Throughout my research, one brand kept reappearing: Red Bull.
While predominantly a B2C brand, there's still a lot we can learn.
Red Bull has successfully adopted a multi-platform strategy that has seen it take its storytelling global.
And the most interesting thing? Within those stories, you’ll never see a can of actual Red Bull. Yet somehow, the Austrian media powerhouse still manage to sell over 6-billion cans a year.
Perhaps that's down to the fact that 84% of millennials will engage with brand content that enthrals and entertains. Or that 70% of people would rather learn about a brand through content as opposed to ads. Or maybe, that 68% of a consumers feel more positive about a company after engaging with the brand’s content.
Thinking like a publisher enables you to tell your story through the relevant, authentic and consistent production of media and bring your customers and prospects along for the experience and the journey. Red Bull are an established B2C brand with sales figures in the billions, and while I do refer to them as an example, it's fair to say this status affords them the capacity to take risks.
They use their brand to showcase a lifestyle through their story-telling and media publishing strategy: extreme sports, snowboarding, musicians, concerts, water sports - seldom do they feature their product.
As a case study, this demonstrates the effectiveness of such a strategy. Red Bull utilise cinematic experience, events, pop ups, video content, and sponsorships. This is all umbrellaed under of the experience they promote which is their BRAND.
Their brand has therefore become their PRODUCT.
Defining your media brand
In order to achieve this as a B2C brand, you must define your content avenues.
Brand publishing consists of a more holistic approach, taking into account avenues of media that can help create your narrative, your story. This depends on the relevant, authentic and consistent production of media. There are many ways to achieve this, namely:
Brand publishing is the next evolution of content marketing - it goes beyond blogging and promoting different content pieces. It takes an editorial approach which will see your team move from content marketers into prolific publishers, writers, speakers and educators.
Imagine the reach of your brand and the available, if not all of the above media?
While good content marketers educate and inform through content rather than promoting themselves, brand publishers embrace a variety of written, video and audio content. Brand publishers take things to the next level and provide ongoing value to their audiences - they view content as its own business.
Authenticity builds trust, trust builds thought leadership, and when done consistently and to a high quality, trust leadership can build visionary status.
Consistency is equally important, and will see you deliver content through a specific medium at a consistent time and day, for example, through which audiences come to expect and familiarise themselves with this medium of publishing. This approach can almost triple duration and engagement with the media, like video on Youtube, for example. Or increase attendance to a regular event.
To fully embrace integrated digital media, content creation becomes a business function rather than simply a marketing tool.
We've reached a point where content saturation is making it harder to rank on search engines and competition is rife.
To compete, writers need to start thinking like journalists. The editorial, journalistic approach takes a more investigative approach and will require more in-depth research, longer-form content, podcasts, and the addition of alternate media such as infographics, video and even organic research.
If you think this requires you to strip away everything you've done and start all over again, then stop right there. What you have is your foundation, and you can start your journey as a brand publisher by honing your content and choosing which of to repurpose.
Can your eBook be repurposed as a podcast?
Your blog repurposed as a video?
Maximising the value of your existing content is necessary, especially in the beginning, and it enables you to experiment with new media, without sacrificing the quality of your core content.
But always think an 'inch wide, mile deep'. This will take an investment of time, research and resource, but it will boost the sustainability, status and success of your B2B brand.