Why 2021 Is the Year Marketers Should Start Thinking Like Publishers

By Amy Goran  |  January 2, 2021

publishing blog

MSPC content director Amy Goran explores how thinking like a magazine editor or podcast host instead of just a brand will have your target audience looking for you—instead of the other way around.

The gears were already turning toward a shift in traditional marketing and advertising. Consumers were showing us that they wanted something different than we’ve been giving them. Then, like many things in our lives, 2020 accelerated that change.

For example, the digital takeover of our media consumption had been well underway for years. Then we got shut in our homes for months on end and our time spent online increased 215%. We’re streaming subscription services, not watching commercials. We’re not driving, commuting, travelling or doing much of anything that would expose us to content we didn’t carefully select.

This doesn’t mean advertising is dead. It’s alive and well. It just looks, sounds and feels a little different.

It’s Time to Think Like a Publisher

Consumers are savvier these days. They know when they’re being sold to. The thing is, they’re OK with that. They understand the value proposition. The problem arises when brands don’t hold up their end of the deal.

A consumer will happily accept that you want them to buy your product, try your service or trust your brand, just so long as the content that you’re providing is of value to them. And this is where publishers have been honing their skills for decades. Centuries, even.

Why It’s Good to Make Your Brand Disappear

Part of that value exchange is that your brand is providing content that entertains, informs or makes a connection. That’s hard to do with gratuitous logo placement and committee-approved key messages.

It can be scary to move away from these touchpoints. but I always advise clients to take the leap. It’s worth it. Brand messaging does not have to be overt to be effective. You’d be surprised at the effect of quality content and a well-planned strategy.

Bring in an Outsider

You’ll have to pardon this bit of log-rolling, but it’s a useful tip nonetheless. Partner with content experts who can bring experience and fresh perspective to your business. These people can help you uncover the compelling, value-add content that your customer is looking for.

You know your business well. Your consumer doesn’t … yet. It’s helpful to bring in someone to fill that gap. What seems standard or run-of-the-mill to you and your team might be a hidden treasure trove of value-add content.

Long Story Short: Make Good Content

Branded content is the future of marketing. But it won’t be successful if it can’t win the eyes and ears of your target audience. Your branded podcast doesn’t have to be the next Serial, but it has to be as entertaining or informative as the competition.

You do that by switching hats. Start thinking more like a magazine editor, documentary filmmaker or podcast host. Ask yourself what your consumer wants to know, not what you need to tell them. Think about how your content fits into the larger digital ecosphere.

Do it right and your target customers will go searching for your marketing. Yes, you heard that right. They will come looking for you. And in 2021, when consumers are harder to reach than ever, that’s a pretty big deal.

Read next: Content Marketing vs. Advertising: What’s the Difference, Again?

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