Did the title get your attention? Frankly, I could have named a number of stars including Larry the Cable Guy, the band Radiohead…even Morgan Freeman. What is currently happening in the entertainment industry is exactly what is going on in the business world…just most people don’t realize it yet.
The January issue of Portfolio highlights how celebrities are cutting out the middleman, creating multiple online channels to communicate directly with customers and fans.
“Losing faith in the old guard, these celebs are using the internet to distribute their work directly to consumers and experimenting with business models that don’t have anything to do with [the major studios].”
While reading this article I couldn’t get over the “too scary” similarity between this and what is happening in traditional media. Businesses of all sizes are dissatisfied with the performance of advertising in magazines, at trade shows, and even purchasing online banners. More money is flowing into measurable media such as pay-per-click (PPC) and into their own web properties. This we have known…but what continues to be treated like a spouse cheating is business’s new love affair with creating their own media channels.
And let’s get beyond social media for a moment. Any organization not contemplating a serious social media strategy is slowing becoming history. This movement is about how corporations are creating their own content, communicating the essence of their brands without having to rely on traditional media (of which social media has to be a part of).
The Portfolio story references this trend as a “more efficient means of reaching potential customers.” More efficient is one way to put it…absolutely necessary is another.
Not convinced? It’s not that there are fewer traditional channels…there are more than ever. Even though magazines keep dying, new ones keep popping up to replace them. There are more cable channels and in-person venues than ever before, in almost every market. What has changed is this:
- CFOs are running more marketing organizations today, and are making CMOs and marketing executives accountable to their media spend whether they like it or not.
- Whether traditional media is less effective than in the past doesn’t matter…the perception is that it is less effective.
- Corporate CRM systems are finally starting to work. Some businesses even have more comprehensive information than their media counterparts. This opens the opportunity to communicate directly with customers.
- I believe in branding and awareness, probably more than most, but when it comes down to it, branding efforts are the first to get cut. They are also what most traditional media companies push as a benefit of advertising. Media outlets are becoming better at lead-generation activities, but every media company only had a limited amount of lead-generation products (or their dilute the value and disturb their customers/readers). I can’t stand the singular focus on leads, leads, leads…but it’s happening, and has been for some time.
- Technology has obliterated the barrier for businesses to create their own channels such as content web sites, blogs, podcasts, video series, online trade shows, digital magazines, etc. Even creating custom print magazines and other print custom publishing initiatives are becoming less expensive (except for postage).
But maybe the biggest rush into content marketing (businesses creating their own content channels) is said best by this quote from the above article:
“It will quickly get to a point where if you don’t do it, everybody else will be doing it. If you’re not there, where are you? Then you’ll see the stars participate.”
This is what we are seeing now. The Microsoft’s, Cisco’s, John Deere’s of the world were first to jump on this bandwagon. Now you are seeing the rest of the business world catch up…because they have to. Why?
Everything…product, price, place, promotion…all of it can be copied. The lone competitive advantage businesses have today is what they communicate…their brand.
Traditional media will continue to go on, but as Portfolio states, “…they will continue to be diminished…certainly traditional media companies will no longer be the content gatekeepers…”
Whether you believe this is good or bad doesn’t matter at this point. It is happening. It’s your choice as a business as to what you want to do about it.
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