The great debate between performance marketing and brand marketing (which includes brand publishing) continues. Some marketers continue to argue that paying for concrete outcomes remains the best use of marketing budgets – particularly during difficult economic periods – while others say investments in brand-building and awareness is particularly critical during tough times as it ensures a faster recovery.
In Harvard Business Review, former P&G exec Jim Stengel, professor Cait Lamberton and marketing exec Ken Favaro write that pitting the two against each other ultimately makes both ineffective. Instead, argue the authors, marketers should focus on investments that build brand equity, and a suite of revamped brand metrics can enable companies to make decisions about how many resources to allocate to each.
It’s a piece worth reading, particularly during the current economic climate. Speaking with marketing executives generally, brand-building activities are in danger of being cut during this time. It’s one reason so many brand publishers saw budget cutbacks and layoffs in the past few months – the work they did not directly produce tangible business outcomes. In an effort to stave off further cuts and ensure survival, we expect a growing focus on hard metrics among brand publishers in the coming months.
McKinsey’s brand publishing playbook
This week’s guest on The Brand Publishing Show is Raju Narisetti, the global publishing director at McKinsey and Company.
I spoke with Narisetti, who has a particularly well-rounded view of the publishing and content landscapes, about how he structures a team at McKinsey, why simply focusing on quality isn’t an effective competitive advantage, and how McKinsey creates a delightful user experience for audiences.
“I have increasingly come to believe that quality has become table stakes. Meaning that yes, if you don’t have good quality, why should anybody even bother coming to you. But at the same time, the competitive advantage of quality alone has significantly deteriorated because of the availability of choices and the scarcity of time,” Narisetti said
“At McKinsey, we think our content is amazing. But it is only amazing if somebody actually consumes it. So we increasingly talk about this idea of our amazing, strong, compelling, unique content layer. But on top of it, can we create an experience layer? By that I mean, the act of consuming a McKinsey piece of content should be interesting, engaging, respect your time, interactive, and make you feel like the act of consuming itself was also good.”
Why brands create boring content
“The greatest danger for businesses is to say something that no one cares about, and no one reads,” according to Matt McGregor. In an effort to wean themselves off platforms, build genuine ongoing connections with audiences and create truly engaging content, companies are now upping their investment in brand publishing. They’re borrowing from journalistic habits and marrying those with great design to create experiences capable of building loyal and engaged audiences.
Toolkits spoke with McGregor, director of content at Shorthand, which provides tools that help brands create immersive and engaging content experiences without the headaches of expensive in-house developers. McGregor, who also operates Shorthand’s own publication, The Craft, spoke to us about the move away from content marketing to true brand publishing, how wonky incentives can lead to adverse outcomes for brand publishers, and why print is back in favor with brand publishers.
Also worth noting:
- Insider’s newsroom will set up a working group that will test how to incorporate AI into its workflow, per Axios. The team plans to experiment with how AI-produced text can work in their stories, and also how AI can be used to generate ideas and outlines, craft headlines for SEO and prep interviews.
- Zara created a series of coffee table books dedicated to travel and adventures, which it will sell for just under 80 euros on the Zara website.