As a business owner, you've probably heard the term: "Always be closing." Though the directive still rings as true as it did when Alec Baldwin trumpeted it in the 1992 salesman's opus Glengarry Glen Ross, "Always be publishing" may make more sense for today's young entrepreneurs.
That's the idea behind the new marketing concept of "brand journalism," which is the practice of covering your business and industry like a reporter. In other words, you're transforming your marketing efforts into publishing efforts.
The big guys in your industry are likely already fully entrenched. In fact, some are practicing this new style of content marketing so effectively you probably haven’t even noticed that their content is marketing driven.
Here are four tips on how you can get started:
1. Lose yourself. We’ve been bombarded with "me" messaging for decades: My service, my product, my company. So people today innately tune "me" out. It is imperative you evolve from the "me" business -- common in public relations efforts. Try storytelling to attract, engage, entertain and inform your audience.
2. Listen, learn and lead the conversation. Now that you’ve decided to act like a reporter, do as they do: Listen. Learn the concerns and questions of your target audience. Then, instead of following the conversation and commenting on it, try leading it. You’ll be the one sparking engagement and identifying trends. After all, you know your business. Who better to comment on it than you?The idea is to focus less on "push" communications -- those are, e-mail marketing, direct mail and advertising -- and move toward "pull." You'll find that it's a better long-term strategy.
3. Drop the campaign speak, start talking. Campaign-style content -- where you proclaim the marvelousness of your products or services -- won’t cut it any longer. Create a story that looks and feels like a real news story. And you never know, that story could turn into a real news article if it catches the attention of a real journalist. Also by getting in the thick of your industry, you'll generate plenty of goodwill.
4. Invite others to participate. Ultimately, your end-goal should be to get people talking -- and sharing -- your content with others. In addition to engaging with readers through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, you'll want to invite others to contribute to your brand journalism efforts. Accepting contributors to your blog, website and social media outlets will grow that audience exponentially.The more you share with others and the more often you invite others to participate and converse with you, the more likely your content will be shared.
How have you used brand journalism to aid your start-up efforts? Leave a comment and let us know.
Tim Gray is content strategist with Blue Fountain Media. He has wide ranging background in the online marketing space and writes about his experiences with SEO, Social Media and all aspects of web design for the company’s blog, The ROI Factor. As a writer, journalist and marketer with over a decade of experience reporting for some of the world’s most respected publications, he often writes about the innovative tools small businesses and entrepreneurs can use to be successful.