Newspapers are now urgenty looking into using paywalls for their online news content, in an effort to offset the combined force of Google, Twitter and the likes of the BBC.
I’ve previously argued that news has always been a loss leader: broadcasters have cross-subsidised news and documentaries with drama and light entertainment; newspapers have cross-subsidised with lifetyle copy and related advertising.
These media behemoths need to learn some lessons from b2b publications, and also from the marketing departments of non-media products and services who are increasingly embracing social media.
Here’s some steps to making the switch to thinking of your content as your marketing…
1. Determine what content is valuable in your market
Business publishers are realising that the news and industry gossip element of their traditional print offering is “nice to have” but isn’t crucial to their business. Research data that provides insight to an industry or sources of leads for new business are more valuable and probably worth paying for.
2. Understand that free content is a source of new customers
Meanwhile, outside the traditional media world, marketers are increasingly realising that by creating relevant free content they can attract an audience. eHow attributes its rapid growth to the creation of free content to attract new users. It’s as effective as PPC in driving traffic, and when the PPC budget is spent, the content keeps working.
3. Change your mind about “free” content
Media owners need to shift their mindset; instead of bemoaning the fact that they cannot charge for much of their online content, they need to see their ability to create a free offering as an opportunity to market their paid product to a wider audience.
4. Target the new entrants with different content
Think about new entrants to your market, rather than your traditional audience, and purposefully create relevant content to entice them in. Fall-line, a top-end magazine for ski enthusiasts, uses its web presence to appeal to beginners, who can be put off by the advanced appearance of the print product. Realise that you will have to create different content to your traditional media products – and this may mean a different team. It’s as valuable a job as the paid content, as it is ensuring the future viability of the business.
5. Build a path from free to paid content
Having worked out (step #1) what is valuable to your core audience, make sure that you carefully promote your paid content to the new entrants your free content has enticed in. Test what works. You may even be able to sell them offline products such as events, training, or even a print publication…
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About Guest Writer Carolyn Morgan
Carolyn Morgan runs Penmaen Media, creating practical digital media and marketing strategies for businesses. You can find out more about Penmaen Media here.