Imagine if your marketing could pay for itself – and even generate a profit. Now that would be the kind of marketing people would pay for. But is such a thing possible? Olle Lindholm investigates.
Marketing is often perceived as a necessary evil, an expense a company simply has to live with. But imagine if it could be the other way around. In Killing Marketing, authors Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose argue that marketers need to re-imagine their own practice – building an audience and then looking at the marketing opportunities involved. Only then will they be able to transform cost into profit.
There are companies already embracing this new approach and building their own media houses, making money on both their content and their brand. Here’s the low-down on some of the most common methods out there right now.
1. Events and conferences
It seems like an obvious place to start, but events and conferences reap their own rewards. In fact, according to CMI and MarketingProfs, roughly seven out of 10 brands now host their own. Some of these gatherings are small and held for a select customer base, while other are much larger and include a bigger venue, keynote speakers, and exhibitors. The revenue is mainly generated through paying guests and sponsors.
It can work in any sector where you have a connection with your audience. Air conditioning company Lennox is proof of that. Through its Lennox Live conference, the company offered education within technology, marketing and business methods, creating a contextual environment that was relevant to both Lennox and their customers.
2. Experience-led opportunities
We live in an experience-led economy and this becomes more obvious when we look at which brands are capitalising. Heineken’s brewery in Amsterdam is just one of many offering an interactive tour for beer fans. In fact, the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction – with over 1.7m visitors last year alone.
But your company doesn’t have to sell an alcoholic beverage to market an experience customers will pay for. There are numerous company museums that attract paying audiences, while strengthening the brand identity. And, of course, there’s also Walt Disney’s entertainment parks and movie studios that generate big bucks every year.
3. 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 British supermarket chain has created a magazine that’s sold together with other food magazines, to which you can subscribe online. Talk about marketing that pays for itself.
Another example is BuzzFeed’s short cooking video segment Tasty. These videos have been viewed more than 40 billion times, have their own spin-off website and their success has also seen BuzzFeed publish Tasty: The Cookbook.
Indeed, certain content brands take their content one step further. Red Bull has long been a content marketing pioneer, and it invested early on in building its own media house. Today, it sells its content to other organisations through its licensed Red Bull Content Pool.
A final thought
To a large extent, good marketing is about fulfilling a need, and creating content that’s so valuable people are willing to pay for it. But this kind of marketing can be challenging to pull off. It requires a new way of seeing and doing things, and dares brands to think less of themselves and more about their audience. To accomplish it, you’ll need to forge ahead on your own path – which might be the scariest prospect of all!