Imagine if marketing could pay for itself and even generate profit. Marketing that is so valuable that people are willing to pay for it. Is that ...

Marketing that people pay for

Imagine if marketing could pay for itself and even generate profit. Marketing that is so valuable that people are willing to pay for it. Is that even possible?

Marketing is currently undergoing an important shift. In the book Killing Marketing, authors Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose write that marketers need to re-imagine their own practice. Marketing is often perceived as a necessary evil, an expense the company simply has to live with. Imagine if it could be the other way around.

There are companies that pave the way for another kind of marketing. Marketing that is so valuable that people pay for it. Companies are building their own media houses and making money from their content. Here are some of the most common ways you can profit from your own marketing.

People pay for experiences

They say we live in an “experience economy” and this becomes obvious when we look at different marketing efforts. For example, Heineken’s first brewery in Amsterdam offers an interactive tour for their biggest beer fans. And they’re not alone to do this. Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions and has so far had four million visitors.

But your company doesn’t have to sell alcoholic beverages to sell experiences their customers will want to pay for. There are numerous company museums that attract paying audiences while strengthening the brand. Moreover, there is obviously Walt Disney’s entertainment parks and movie studios that generate revenue each year.

What these brands have in common is that they’ve learned to sell unique experiences that their audiences crave. What experiences does your company offer?

Events and conferences

According to research from CMI and MarketingProfs, roughly seven out of ten companies host their own events. Some of these gatherings are rather small and held for a few select customers, while other events are much larger and include a bigger venue, keynote speakers, and other exhibitors. The revenue is mainly generated through paying guests and sponsors.

Minecon is the official event for the multi-billion dollar game Minecraft. Last year, 12,000 tickets sold out in a matter of minutes. But you don’t need to have a following of nerdy fans to make money off your events. The heat and air conditioning company Lennox is proof of that.

Lennox has chosen to act as a knowledge company. At Lennox Live, the company offers education within technology, marketing and business methods. In other words, they put themselves in a larger context that is relevant to both themselves and their customers.

The key takeaway: We pay for knowledge, education and access to professional networks. Marketing that takes advantage of these insights generate new profits for the company.

Content that people pay for

Finally, there’s also content that customers buy and consume for themselves. The most striking example is the food magazine published by Sainsbury’s. The U.K. company has managed to create a magazine that is sold together with other food magazines. You can also subscribe to the magazine online. Talk about marketing that pays for itself!

Another example is BuzzFeed’s short cooking videos, Tasty. These videos have been viewed more than 40 billion times in the last two years. As a result of this success, BuzzFeed chose to publish Tasty – The Cookbook, a printed collection of the recipes, which you can customise in more than 10,000 ways. Already during the first couple of weeks, the book sold more than 100,000 copies.

Indeed, certain content brands take it one step further. Red Bull has long been a content marketing pioneer, and they built their media house early. Today, they sell their content to other organisations through the licensing program Red Bull Content Pool.


Marketing can generate more profit for companies. To a large degree, it’s about fulfilling a need, creating experiences and content that is so valuable that people are willing to pay for it. But this kind of marketing challenges companies. It requires a new way of seeing and doing things, where companies dare to operate in a larger context and think less of themselves, and more on their audience.

More than anything, this kind of marketing needs to offer something extraordinary. And to accomplish that, you must go your own way. The question is: are you and your team up for it?