May 19, 2011

Using the Trade Press to Build Your Brand

Print is dead. Advertising is so last century. Everyone uses things like Sky+, TiVo and Kindle to tune marketing out of their attention span.

So, how does industry-specific publishing survive in the digital age? The answer is two fold -- people value it for: observation and connection [...]
All business publishing boils down to “how original, insightful and helpful are your observations?” and “how connected are you to the industries over which you claim a title?”. Journalism is no longer a profession, it’s an activity. Everyone is a journalist today. Anyone who can string a set of consonants into a text message now considers himself a reporter, and with a click of the upload icon, a publisher. A lot of what people write and publish online is dross, but a lot of it isn’t.

Rather than seeing the proliferation of bloggers and tweeters as “the new competitors,” we should view them as a rich, new vein of editorial talent. The trade press has always been in the business of providing the best observations possible to its particular industry. It’s now possible to offer more observations and possibly, better ones than ever before.

The Internet has created huge numbers of bloggers, tweeters, pundits and gurus, and your job in optimising observation is to know who they are and get them working on your team, associating with your brand. Let’s talk about connection. The truth is business publishers and trade associations were the original social network marketers. The social network technologies don’t threaten industry, they empower it. Power and capital will continue to flow to the ones who refine its qualitative utility and value, who put the network to best use for their brand, their constituants and the advertisers who want to reach them. Most of these social networks today are application platforms. It’s the marketer’s job to catalyse conversation on them, and possess a deep knowledge of them.

There’s a reason why we call them social networks. They are people, not pages and posts. And to get the most from these social networks, the business publishing industry should be the most generous, most enjoyable and most nourishing patron. Like it or not, the current zeitgeist regards media as a telescope through which we see the stars – including industry rock stars.

Our job is constantly evolving, the challenges we face are daunting. But advertisers remain in pursuit of a return on their investments and they always will. And once we become the masters of observation and connection, we will not only survive but also thrive and prosper. Using trade journals and a mix of social media is still one of the best ways to heighten your observation platform and remain connected to you industry and customers.