B2B Print Publications: Thing of the Past or Wave of the Future?

Joe PulizziSometimes we get so wrapped up in online content marketing that we forget where it all originated: good old-fashioned print. The vast majority of device-wielding Millennials will tell you that print is dead, but a second look tells us that may not be true. Niche magazines can actually be the ideal channel for connecting with decision makers at the just right time: when they’re unplugged and ready to give your content the attention it deserves.

We sat down with Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi to talk print: getting started, speaking your target audience’s language, and what’s working for CMI’s flagship print publication, Chief Content Officer. Here are Pulizzi’s top tips for pulling off traditional media in a non-traditional age.

Speak your audience’s language

Content Marketing Institute has grown quickly over the past several years, but who exactly are they engaging? “Looking at buyer personas,” Pulizzi notes, “we concluded that the doers – the managers, creators and journalists – were engaging online and in social media through contentmarketinginstitute.com.”

That execution-level engagement is important, but Joe and his team knew that “in order to tap into budgets, we had to reach decision makers. That’s what the print publication is for; it’s an executive guide.” So while Content Marketing Institute focuses on the tactical level, Chief Content Officer takes a step back and discusses the strategic level of content marketing. To connect with executives, you need to speak their language: the language of high-level strategy.

Get creative with the budget

Printing a magazine isn’t cheap, but as Pulizzi notes, in this day and age “most companies that we talk to don’t have print budgets.” The logical solution here is to feed the budget with ad dollars. But that’s not necessarily a solution either, since only about 5% of companies manage to sell ads for their print publications. There are other options, though. “Look at what sponsorship entails,” Pulizzi suggests. “This could come out of a lot of places. They support the magazine, maybe sponsor individual content, a logo spot or a number of other things.”

Your list is your lifeline

Without a subscriber list, your magazine quite literally has nowhere to go. If you’re starting from scratch, consider working with a list development company like Infogroup to reach a carefully targeted audience. Kicking things off by partnering with a relevant publication that targets the same audience can also boost numbers and credibility. Once word gets out about your print content you can get people to sign up for their own subscriptions. Now that Chief Content Officer has reached this step, Pulizzi and his team promote the print publication online using banner ads like the one below.

Chief Content Officer

Repurpose content wisely

Rather than simply copy and pasting your print articles online, think about how you can add value to the publication and the reader’s experience with digital resources. “This is your opportunity to drive readers to bigger and badder resources online: white papers, ebooks, etc.,” says Pulizzi. Getting this balance right will set you apart because “so few can do integration well between print and online.”

Remember: you’re not doing print for the heck of it

Putting out a high-quality print publication takes significant time and resources, so it’s important approach the task with a concrete goal in mind. Whether it’s sales, surveys or lead nurturing, you need to identify that business objective and do everything you can to work toward it. “At the end of 12 months, the expectation is that you actually meet your goals with print,” says Pulizzi.