Thinking like a publisher is a change of mindset. It’s not something that happens overnight, but with steady work and partnering with the right people, your company can become a successful publisher.
The question is, why is this important? Why would you want to become a publisher?
In short, your competitors are already doing it. And if they’re not, they’re planning to. That’s the sense I get when I talk to people across a wide variety of industries. It makes sense – most companies have a goal of developing a close relationship of trust and loyalty with customers and prospects, and since publishing content is a fast-track to achieving that, you have to ask yourself if you are willing to hand over such a big advantage to your competitors?
Becoming a publisher
So what does it mean to become a publisher? Often I talk to people about publishing and they will say they ‘do content’ then list examples such as their website or text for a brochure or even ‘social media’ – so there is some confusion.
Let’s be clear. When we talk about content in this context, we are talking about something that is informative, useful, entertaining, engaging. This may take the form of thought leadership articles, infographics, animations, and so on, but in all cases you are promoting your company indirectly.
Sure, it may reach your audience through social media or email, but that is just the method of distribution. It’s about what you’re giving your audience – and what you’re giving is some of your expertise for free, sharing knowledge that will be of genuine value to them to help them solve a problem of some kind.
Solving your customers’ problems
So the ‘problem’ your content solves will be in-line with the problem your product or service solves.
No surprise there. And this is where it ties in with publishing: look at your bookshelf – chances are a number of your books solve a particular problem. The problem might be not knowing a language, not knowing where to eat in a particular city, or not understanding philosophy. It could be anything.
This is why you are becoming a publisher – solving problems. Starting to think as a publisher rather than as a marketer will help you engage with your audience and build genuine trust and loyalty over time – that is loyalty that will come into play when it’s time for them to make a purchase.
In other words, they’ll choose you over your competitor because they already have a relationship with you – one of trust.
How to become a publisher
Becoming a publisher overnight is not possible – you need highly-talented writers with backgrounds in journalism and creative writing, editors who understand structure on a deep level, and designers who can bring ideas to life. You need an understanding of how to generate content topics, how to create briefs in-line with your marketing goals, and an understanding of the ebbs and flows of what type of content is most popular at any given time. The list goes on.
The fastest solution here is to work with a specialist agency – this essentially gives your company a publishing wing that’s ready to go, and can scale instantly. You get an army of talented, specialised writers and editors, along with designers, brief writers, copy editors. All of whom can listen to your goals, create fantastic content that meets those goals, then publish it with you as the ‘author’.
Now your connections on LinkedIn, your friends on Facebook, the visitors to your website are not just getting a barrage of promo material. They are getting informative content that positions you as a leader in your industry. You are the helper-in-chief.
Think of this this way: when was the last time a promo message fully got your attention? Now compare that to something you read, or watched, that helped you solve a problem you were facing.
Being a publisher means you can communicate much more deeply using journalism-style articles, going far deeper than you can with static website text or promo articles. You are also agile, able to pick topics that are relevant to your industry today.
The time for shouting at the reader is long gone. Becoming a publisher positions you as a helper, as a company to turn to for great advice – and of course for great products or services. You meet your customers where they already are, and promote your company without it feeling like promotion.
As I said, becoming a publisher requires a change of mindset. But if you simply put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and think about what kind of content you like to receive, then as a proposition it’s about as logical as it gets.