As more and more printers invest in content marketing, I’d like to stop for a moment and ask, “What are you trying to accomplish?” Before you launch that fall marketing campaign (which should be in the works now), it’s important to know who you are, who your target audience is, and what you are trying to communicate. These things seem so simple, and yet, they often get lost.
As we kick off the summer, things will slow down. This is a great time to re-evaluate your strategies for the upcoming year.
Based on the conversations I’m having lately, this is something that is starting to rumble around in printers’ minds. An increasing number of printers seem to be investing in, or thinking about investing in, new or revived print newsletters in the fall. This can be done in-house. It can be licensed from a third party. Or you can ask someone like me to manage the process for you. Whichever you choose, it’s critical to put serious thought into what those newsletters are intended to accomplish, who they are targeting, and what kind of content you want to produce.
Here are some questions you should be asking:
- How many pages should the newsletter be? Six pages? Eight pages? Or do I need to go a full 16 pages to get maximum effect? I’ve talked to companies doing all three, and the page count is different depending on their intended target audience.
- What is the focus going to be? Do I want to really focus on growing my print business, with articles on direct mail, packaging, and marketing collateral? Or do I want to appear more channel-neutral, focusing on general marketing content instead? Should I be doing a mix of both?
- If it’s marketing-focused rather than print-focused, how do I differentiate my content from what readers can get elsewhere? What’s the value of having it in my print newsletter rather than their inbox? How do I plan to differentiate?
- Do I need to provide content that focuses on my company’s perspective and capabilities? Or is curating the best general marketing content, regardless of channel, the right way to go?
- Will I create one version of the newsletter or will I create different versions for different market verticals I want to pursue? If I want to segment, what percent of the content (if any) will be common across all versions?
- Where will the content come from? Developing articles unique to your company is always going to be a great option, but paying for custom-written articles is more costly than using third-party content. It can also be challenging to keep everyone on track responsible for helping to provide or help develop the content (company owner, director of marketing, CMO, salespeople). There are options for curating third-party content, but even if you’re curating, someone still needs to manage the process.
- What is the right mix of images, text, and graphics? Increasingly, I am being asked to provide articles that are less text heavy and that have the content arranged in bullet points and numbered lists. I’m also being asked for more data to be used in graphics and infographics style pages.
- Are you going to use some of your pages for promotional content, such as monthly offers and specials? Or will you keep the content strictly educational?
- Will you use the opportunity to show (not tell) about new technologies such as augmented reality by incorporating that content into the piece? If so, how much time do you want to invest in that portion of the newsletter?
- Will there be other channels supporting the newsletter effort, such as email, social media, and mobile? If so, which channels will you use and how will you integrate them?
- What will be the delivery frequency?
- How much content do I already have in-house? Do I have case studies? In-house data? Blog articles that can be repurposed? Are there third-party sources I can pull from? Or does everything need to be created from scratch?
A few years ago, I saw a lot of printers make significant investments in content marketing, but without a lot of thought as to how those programs would be sustained. Over time, I watched those programs get shelved. But now, with content marketing becoming such a critical component of the overall mix, I’m seeing those programs getting pulled off the shelf again.
I’m glad to see printers re-investing in content marketing programs, but if those programs aren’t critically evaluated before being re-launched, they promise to suffer from the same fate as they did before. So think carefully through the issues first. Make sure the content reflects the image you want, that it is properly geared to the target audience you want to recruit, and that it’s fully supported within your organization so that it is sustainable over time.