|American Express web site for small businesses|
|Since when do insurance company web sites look like this?|
Consider that Citibank is posting articles like “5 Healthy Snacks Your Kids Will Actually Eat” – not what you expect to find on a bank’s web site.
Or that retailers like Walmart, Target, and Walgreens recently launched or are launching magazines primarily to enhance their brands.
Or that content marketing – AKA brand journalism – is taking a growing share of what non-publishing companies are spending on marketing.
It’s no accident that one of the leading books on the trend is Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher. It explores how non-publishing companies can use “words, images and multimedia to systematically enhance consumer engagement and conversion rates.” (Note: It does not address such key publishing tactics as stating inflated prices on a ratecard, debating whether print is dead, or blaming all problems on the circulation department).
Many content marketers follow the 4-to-1 rule of thumb: publish four non-promotional items for every one that mentions the company’s products or services. But some eschew any promotional copy and focus only on establishing their companies as “thought leaders”: You have to look closely to see who is sponsoring sites like OPEN Forum (American Express), HouseLogic (National Association of Realtors), or especially Brighter Life (Sun Life Financial).
|National Assoc. of Realtors site has a Target ad.|
But why are profitable non-publishing brands emulating Newsweek – pouring millions of dollars into creating content without much of a revenue model? Here are seven reasons content marketing, which has been around in various forms for decades, is suddenly booming:
- The Web: In the pre-internet days, freedom of the press applied mostly to those who owned a printing press. Now everyone can be a publisher.
- Social media: Who would think of turning to an insurance company to read about The Year’s Most Inspiring Athletes or a deodorant to see Seriously Dangerous Snowboard Stunts? It doesn’t