- Posted January 15, 2012 by
New York, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
2012: The Year of Content Marketing
Digital media has changed the way brands interact with consumers. Traditional PR wire services and full page glossy advertisements simply don’t do it anymore. Internet advertising? Click-through-rates (CTR) are down to a fraction of what they were a decade ago. So if the ‘traditional’ methods don’t work, how can brands engage with consumers in a way that educates them, builds rapport, and converts eyeballs into dollars?
There are a few answers to this—and one of them is Content Marketing.
What the heck is content marketing? Simple. Every brand has a story to tell. The obstacle is getting that story out to the masses in a way that connects with people on an individual and emotional level. Pushing a press release through a wire service and blogging on your company website will only get your message so far. Content Marketing goes by a number of names (Advertorials, Sponsored Editorials, etc.) but the idea is that—for a small price—you can have your brands story told to a target audience of your choosing by purchasing the space from a publisher.
There are a number of publications out there that do this and there are usually guidelines you’ll be required to adhere to—but for small-businesses looking to get ahead of the curve this is the way to go.
Mashable, one of the world’s most popular websites, offers ‘Paid Distribution’ that caters to the digitally-minded individual. Think techy-geek-savant. If you’re selling gadgets this is a good place to get your new iPhone alarm-clock-bottle-opener in front of the right audience. The drawback? They won’t publish under their masthead… so it works a lot like display advertising. From what I can tell they don’t work with you on content creation, either. So, you need to get your all-star copywriter on the project to make sure the article is well-written and, ultimately, a success.
Alister & Paine Magazine is a smaller boutique style publication that caters to business executives so if you have a B2B service or a luxury product they’d be the right people to work with for Content Marketing. The articles, even paid editorials, are published under the Alister & Paine masthead alongside interviews with CEO’s like Henry Juszkiewicz of Gibson Guitars and Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com. Another perk of working with a publication like Alister & Paine is that they work with you on creating the content. Unfortunately, they have pretty strict ‘Tried & True’ standards so if you’re not a good fit odds are you won’t end up being able to buy your way into the magazine.
Here are a couple tips on selecting a publisher to work with and creating content (if they don’t offer content creation as a service):
1. Make sure the publisher caters to the same demographics you’re targeting.
2. Keep it short and simple. This is the age of Twitter and attention spans are rapidly dwindling. If you’re still reading this you’re probably a PhD student.
3. Your content should be witty and entertaining or educational and informative. You know your brands personality so try to find a way to merge that personality with the voice of the publication you’re working with. If you’re lucky, they might step in and help you with this.
Sure, there are still other ways to get in front of your target audience (I’m a huge fan of spontaneous and interactive digital campaigns) but Content Marketing is proving to be an indispensable tool to compliment traditional communications strategies—and 2012 will be the year to prove it.
—— Brian Aitken is an entrepreneur and digital media expert. He is the Chairman of Alister & Paine Magazine and the Director of New Media for the Foundation for Economic Education. In 2011 he received his Statement of Professional Achievement from the NYU Stern School of Business and in 2010 was a Cisco Hero of the Human Network.