Effective content marketing: the example of Headley Brothers

I worked in publishing for many years without knowing anything about Headley Brothers. That is not surprising: I work in book publishing, they major in printing magazines. Yet now I know quite a bit about the company — and feel well disposed towards it, even though they’re not likely suppliers for our business. How come?

Because I’ve come across copies of their own magazine, headsup.  I picked up a copy at Publishing & Media Expo. Another edition in the post, inserted into an InPublishing mailing.

headsup does exactly what you’d expect from a marketing piece from a printing company: tell you that the printer is well equipped, expert, cost-effective, and so on. For example, the edition (no. 17) I have in front of me contains a news item entitled ‘Headley Brothers Digital invests in high-speed saddle stitcher’.

But headsup is better than that because it does more than that. What?

1.  It provides informative content. For example, the edition to hand contains a double-page technical article on RGB/CMYK workflows (a ‘User’s guide’). The feature advertises Headley only indirectly, by implicitly positioning them as an informed source.

2. It provides content designed to help stakeholders’ businesses. For example, the centre-page spread explains ‘how variable data printing can increase revenue opportunities’. Another very practical article explains how to ‘monetise your polywrap and carrier sheets’.

3. The magazine is both reader-friendly and just plain friendly. Each edition presents the human face of the company by including a profile of a member of staff.

4. The medium is the message. The use of colour, die-cutting, and so exhibits the quality of Headley’s printing.

When I was first given a copy of headsup, I had no expectation of reading it. But I started to flick through it and then found myself reading passages of text, then thinking ‘That’s interesting’ and ‘That’s useful’, and then coming away thinking, ‘Good company’. It was a classic example of virtually the entire marketing cycle, from creating awareness through gaining attention to producing engagement, all achieved in one sitting.

Since then I’ve been looking through digital editions on the company’s website with a view towards using them as a model for content marketing.

Does anyone have any (even) better examples from the publishing industry?

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