Internet commerce has been characterised by sellers increasingly talking directly to their market. 25 years ago, sellers were very much bound to third-parties such as publishers or mailing list brokers to reach their prospects. With the advent of low cost online publishing, a handful of companies tried to create their own equivalents to the existing trade journals, but this was all rather overtaken by direct messaging through a range of online channels. Nowadays, if we’ve got something to announce to a wider market we don’t know, we turn to the likes of search advertising or even social media.
In the meantime, third-party publishers have struggled on, some even managing to make print continue to pay. However, they reach very few people, and ‘getting coverage in the press’ is more a matter of prestige than any sort of marketing effectiveness.
Could we do something ourselves?
None of this will come as any news. However, I think that industry publications could still have an appeal. Perhaps somebody who doesn’t even know what existed 10, 20 or 30 years ago will come along and somehow reinvent them. Or… could we do something ourselves?
Putting together a publication about a particular industry doesn’t have to come from a third party. Customers are quite happy to read something general which has been written by a manufacturer or supplier, if they understand the source and its limitations.
Indeed, in some sectors, this is a mature market. If you’re a small financial investor, for example, there are some amazing email newsletters and websites which you can subscribe to, for free. These give away research and analysis worth a small fortune. Readers completely understand that they may be promoting a particular angle, and are happy with that understanding. In a way, that’s what this blog is doing; it’s a slightly different approach to what I’m suggesting, but with similar outcomes.
A thought leader and an authority
In other words, if you’re already running an email newsletter about your own company’s products and services, could this be the basis for a more general publication? Doing so would instantly suggest that your company was a thought leader and an authority. Its content would of course not include your competitors’ news, but the readers would understand that. If it gave them a better insight into the market, technology and developments, they’d be more than happy to read it on that basis.
Content could include industry news, latest research, interviews with key personnel on trends, background articles about technology or manufacturing …and of course your own press releases or announcements. It really needn’t be hugely time-consuming or even that expensive.