If you have a few minutes I highly recommend reading the transcript from a recent talk by Jenene Cossan at the MPA Magazine Sales Conference. I’ll quote liberally from the transcript and add additional thoughts but I suggest reading the transcript yourself.
The talk is about much more than just the future of publishing. It’s more about the future of content, marketing, and your opportunity to be the single best source in whatever niche or market you choose.
The Hierarchy of Needs Has Changed
Jenene starts with one of the most important realities in today’s digital landscape:
The reality is that your hierarchy of needs has also changed. Where once you might have been the only access point for a particular stream of information, or the port of call for a subject – you are no longer. You have moved from being a need to a want.
Think about that. While couched in more of a print vs online argument this is playing out in multiple industries and platforms. From television, music, print media, even brick and mortal commerce. Not only do the needs change but the expectations change as well.
This becomes obvious if you watch the way kids from 6 – 14 interact with media. They have an expectation that it’s there, it’s on demand. YouTube is what TV was just over a decade ago.
There Still Exists a Challenge of Understanding Digital
That leads me to the point of the talk that really defines where we are today:
Add to that the confusion and pressure marketers feel to understand online – a medium that runs at a speed that realistically scares the living daylights out of most people – and when you offer a nice comfy, reliable format they can physically get their hands onto and see their ad, they understand this and they sign up for that offer that was too good to be turned down.
Those days are numbered.
I’ll tell you why. Those types of marketers are not going to survive. They are a short-term win. The marketers who are refusing to move with the future will, over the course of the next few years, be weeded out and replaced by young whippersnappers who understand the concept of true customer engagement and relationship building.
While this isn’t a new phenomenon we still are in the midst of companies large and small still trying to figure it out. Some are still stuck in the old reality of the world, grasping at the last vestige of hope the models that work in the past will work in the future.
Don’t We All Want a Personal Curator?
The talk then gets to what I think is advice anyone marketing online should take to heart:
You want a personal curator, in fact. You’re completely agnostic. You don’t give a flying rat’s butt about what ‘channel’ you’re on. You care about the content. You care about what you want to watch right now.
You want to be informed, entertained, inspired, or whatever else you’re wanting. You want your device to be smart enough to know what mood you in, what you like to watch at this time and provide you with incredibly informative choices, wrapped up in exceptional usability.
You have the choice of about 300 billion pieces of content, so why wouldn’t you want this? More to the point, you’ll be totally and utterly overwhelmed if you don’t have it.
I bet if you think about how you interact with content (video, TV, news, etc) you’ll know this last part rings true. Think about when you fire up Netflix, if you don’t know what you want to watch you don’t want to have to spend minutes cycling through page after page of things you’re not interested in. You want recommendations based on your tastes… nothing new right? After all this has been the allure of Netflix, even Amazon, Spotify, etc.
Why can’t that be you? Why can’t you be the Netflix of your industry or niche? Why can’t you be the curator (editor) of your topic.
The World Needs More Great Editors
This is where the talk really delivers a knock out punch:
The world needs more great editors.
Yes, that’s right. We need more of what you do, not less. It’s just you need to stop thinking of yourselves as magazines. That’s an outcome of where content could be housed.
You need to think of yourself as taste makers, curators, cultivators, community managers, the people in charge of knowing all there is to know about a subject and bringing that to life and to the people in whatever format they want it in.
It’s time to move on from protecting your medium turf and time to move to where the pastures are greener of being completely platform agnostic. To understanding that what you are is the expert.
There it is right there. That is your opportunity. That is way to future proof yourself in this digital marketing environment. This concept of being a great editor is the future of winning with content marketing. Without it you’re really just part of the noise. Now you can make some headway while being part of the noise but you’ll never be an innovator. I believe most people that follow us here or on our other sites want to be innovators.
The path forward is simple. Think of yourself as a great editor. An editor (curator) within your niche or your chosen market. Be the taste maker, the one who knows more than anything else about your market. Does that take work and effort? Sure, but so does any other strategy you would employ.
You’ve Been Dropped in the Middle of a Giant Lake
Imagine your stuck in the middle of a giant lake. Would you rather tread water waiting for someone to come and rescue you, probably eventually getting worn out and drowning. Or would you rather swim one direction towards shore? Which one has a better chance of survival? It’s the same with content marketing, many people are treading water waiting for something to change and usually end up getting burned out.
Instead the answer is to go for the shore. Be the source for your market. Don’t wait for someone else to grab it before you. Be the single best resource that your market or your niche would look for. Be the encyclopedia (wait, do they have those anymore?)– the Wikipedia of your market.
If you want a blueprint for how to be relevant not only today but in the future this is it.