Servitisation of publishing (I): content marketing

Content marketing involves marketing your products, not simply by telling people explicitly that they’re great (‘our powder washes whiter than white’), but rather than demonstrating your expertise through the provision of helpful concept.

I’ve given examples on the blog before concerning Headley Brothers and Denmaur Independent Papers.

Here I want to suggest that the growth of content marketing provides a potentially lucrative market for publishing intelligence, by which I mean the skills and dispositions that publishers tend to develop. Often, aspects of that intelligence that may be taken for granted within publishing may be much less common beyond publishing — with the result that a publishers’ intelligence can add value to other projects.

A prime example concerns the role of narrative.

By no means all content marketing takes the form of narrative.. Other formats, such as checklists and decision charts, are available. And by no means all publishing involves narrative — think, for example, of many reference projects.

But much content marketing and much publishing content does take that form — with the implication that publishers are apt to know a thing or two about something content marketers need to know about.

Let me illustrate this with some small-scale examples. I manage a blog for a talent acquisition company called FJ Wilson Talent Services. We don’t spend a lot of time telling the world we think we’re marvellous, not least because our target market (membership bodies) are rather resistant to blah.

We do, however, like to tell stories that illustrate how we work. The way we work is that one of our team, Susie Schofield, interviews our some of our stakeholders (here, employers and candidates) and sends the interviews to me. I then attempt to weave them into narrative form.

Some examples of the resultant narratives include those relating our work with the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

I make no claim to have any great narrative flair. I’m a publisher of narrators, more than a natural narrator myself. But at least as a publisher I’ve learnt the one big thing that matters here — that it is narrative form that we need to present such content. Everything else about such marketing becomes easier, once that decision has been made.


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