Now that the print media industry has realised that the digital world is not the enemy of paper but rather just another new and exciting way of doing what they do, the challenge is going to be treading a fine and well considered line between the needs of readers and the requirements of their advertisers.
One thing is already sure. The age-old paradigm of advertorial and paid for content being the antithesis of good journalism has not only been shifted but also laid to rest. Dead and buried.
Today, successful media are those that provide content readers want. Whether it is paid for or not is beside the point. One only has to look at some extremely successful magazines and TV magazine programmes that are wall-to-wall paid-for content, to realise that this concept is not just wishful thinking but fact.
Which is really convenient because this allows editors to be able to accede to the requirements of their advertisers in terms of advertorial, branded content, competitions, promos and so forth.
Successful media these days are those that have finally cottoned on to the centuries-old fundamental of marketing: “it is not what we want to say but what our customers (readers) want to hear.”
Robyn Daly, the group editor of RamsayMedia custom and B2B publishing, sums it up rather well.
“The weighty challenge in content marketing is treading the fine line between meeting the marketing objectives of clients and creating a meaty, entertaining, enthralling read for their customers within budget. The balance between marketer push and reader pull, or attraction, is what many custom publishers find hard to achieve. Then publications become victims of a hard-sell approach to a medium that has the potential to be a familiar, entertaining and welcome environment where readers barely notice they’re being ‘sold to’.
“There’s only one winning formula: tell great stories! Great content engages your clients and gets them on your side because they’re engrossed in something nestled in the pages of your publication that may not even have anything to with your brand. Tell great stories and you can change the way people think about your brand and influence customer behavior. Without actively selling anything, great content can lead to a sale.”
I find it unique, interesting and refreshing to find an editor who talks like a marketer.
And that is what the future of media is all about. Editors, or as I prefer to call them, content managers, have to not only have a gut-feel for what readers want to read, but also enough marketing savvy to know how to validate their instincts with well considered research as well as to be able to not only accommodate sponsors and advertisers but initiate packages and ideas that will work for both parties.
Gone are the days when editors simply see their jobs as filling in the blank spaces between the ads and only use internal editorial conferences to determine content.
Content is what will draw readers and numbers of readers draw advertisers. Well, that’s the basis of how it is all supposed to work but nowadays it goes beyond that. Way beyond that.
It involves a complex process of risk management and carefully formulated strategies to give the best possible return on funds and efforts employed. To the uninitiated this might seem like facing a big, tangled ball of string that needs to be unravelled but without an end or beginning in sight. No place to start.
Interestingly the best business tool that can be used to unravel these balls of string, is called marketing.
Contrary to the popular belief that marketing is something that might involve things such as advertising and branding, big ideas and some sort if hidden magic, it’s not. It’s a pretty boring process actually, to ensure that everything one does is working in unison and that nothing is left to chance.
Like the Rubik’s Cube, marketing is actually quite simple when you know how.
Follow Chris Moerdyk on Twitter @chrismoerdyk