Unzip your head and leave your brain on the table (it's time to think like a publisher)


Unzip your head.

You’re going into the publishing business.

Are you struggling to get a content marketing program off the ground at your company or organization? Perhaps you need to approach it from a different perspective. Content marketing requires a much different way of thinking – you have to think like a publisher rather than a marketer.

Remember, it is your helpful, informative, and educational content that will get people to engage as well as position your company as a ”subject matter expert.” Magazines write and publish articles to attract readers – you have to do the same thing.

Let’s get inside the brain of a publisher so you can learn how to think like one.

You ARE the media – How to think like a publisher: 

1. Plan and staff to create content, lots of it. Publishers take a long-term view of their publication and what their audience wants. This mindset influences how they do editorial planning, make staffing decisions, allocate funding and approach new business opportunities. They plan and staff to create content, lots of it. Walk away from the “campaign” mindset. You need to approach your content efforts from a deeper, longer-term mindset. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

2. Focus on an audience segment where you have a realistic opportunity to be the number one provider of information, knowledge, insight and education. Develop detailed personas that bring their challenges, needs and aspirations to life. Publishers understand who their readers are. They’re not trying to engage everyone. Rather, their publication is laser-focused on a very specific audience. Their mission is to be the number one “book” in a narrow niche by doing the best job of meeting the needs of its readers. That focus drives their entire business.

3.  Don’t rely upon your “best guess” of what your audience’s information needs are. Talk to your salespeople and customer support folks, who have the greatest amount of contact with customers, and therefore have the best understanding of what they want to know about. In addition to this qualitative research, however, you need some data to back it up. Survey your readers. View your website analytics to determine the content they’re interacting with. When it comes to your content topics, learn what’s “hot” and what’s not.

Publishers are relentlessly focused on the information needs of their target audience. They conduct research to better understand what their readers want to read. Many of them interact with readers in person at trade shows, conferences and other industry events to get a handle on their interests. Some publishers even form editorial advisory boards, made up of readers from key companies within their industry. In a small group, these customers can be very candid about their needs and challenges and as a sounding board for discussions of future industry trends.

4. Develop a written content/editorial calendar using the research you conducted and the audience personas you developed to brainstorm content topics and formats. Publications develop their content based upon a detailed editorial calendar. This document specifies each department or section within the publication, and what its editorial content will be for each issue, week or month. This ensures that its editorial content remains focused upon the needs of its readers.

5. Map out your content production and approval processes and identify ways to simplify them. In addition, you will probably need to identify programs and activities your team needs to stop doing to accommodate the workload created by your content initiative.Publishers have a process to create content efficiently – and consistently. The process allows them to produce and distribute each issue of their publications like clockwork. The process involves writing, editing, photography, page design, printing and distribution.

Unzip your head, remove the marketing lobe and replace it with a publisher lobe.

You may want to sell more products but to do that over the long run, you’ll first need to get more people to read and engage with your content. Start thinking like a publisher and you’ll increase your odds of content marketing success!