Written by Ricky Warren, Marketing Manager, Research Ltd
March 2012

Everyone likes to know about products and services that are potentially of use to them, but nobody likes to continually receive the same promotional messages about them. People tend to judge if they are interested or not the first time round, with follow-ups either reminding them to take action or irritating them if they’re not interested.

That’s all fine for the ones who are likely to ask for more information, but should we just forget about those who decide that they’re not interested? No – use content marketing to keep them engaged!

Content marketing is the catch-all phrase for sales and marketing messages which lead with content, as opposed to the stereotypical approach of ‘hitting them with a promotion too good to pass on’. It revolves around presenting something of interest to the customer before you ask them to buy. It’s not new as a concept, we have seen the ‘try before you buy’ mantra before - however, the ways in which we present our content (and thus our knowledge of the areas we specialise in) has become more and more innovative, leading to markedly increased rates of response and stronger engagement.

Here are some tips on how to use the content marketing concept within the publishing world, broken down by three main product lines. Tweak and experiment with the below and see how much difference they can make:


1) Speakers sell events. Encourage them to go the extra mile to get bums on seats. Do a “Day in the life of…” style interview with your keynotes and send the video/transcript article to your prospects and customers.

2) Your event must be covering a topic people are interested in. Ask your prospects a controversial question before the event, by hosting a multiple-choice poll. Let them see the responses live if possible, giving them food for thought and showing them what their peers think.

3) Write an article about the main event topic, baiting interest by asking questions without answering them and giving little bits of information which require further engagement to see more.


1) Try before you buy’ reigns true here – try showing full, free examples of your content to prospects and ensure it is the most relevant content possible to envoke maximum resonance with the audience.

2) Interview your editorial/analyst team about what they do and why they do it – ask them to make predictions about things and to give opinions – send the video/transcript article to your prospects and customers.

3) Do some product testing – send out examples of content you are thinking of producing and let your customers feed back to you on it. You let the customer feel like they are helping to shape the direction of your content and you gain useful information about what your audience want.


1) Take your rate card information further. Do some analysis of your customer data and present this to prospective advertisers. Include details of average spend, disposable income, discipline interest, and anything else your prospective advertisers could use to inform their purchasing decisions. Make graphs and charts to summarise the data and answer their questions before they ask!

2) Interview some of your customers – ask them which media of yours they best respond to advertising in and why. Communicate this information to your advertising prospects and use the feed back to adjust your rate card.

3) Mock up examples. If you’re trying to win contracts, mock up examples of what you are offering – invest in getting online/print ads designed with the prospect’s logo and messaging on it, and then mock these up onto your different media types. Send this with your proposal so they can visualise what they will get for their money.


And one more key thing: always remember to link the content back to what you’re trying to sell! Put promotional messages at the end of your communications, for instance:

“This topic will be covered in more detail on 1st January 2050 at Conference X, the leading event for X professionals and managers”

“For more articles and data, subscribe to Publication X, the most comprehensive source of news and information to the X industry”

“Advertise in Publication X or sponsor Conference X and engage with this audience today”

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