Content Creation? Magazines Wrote the Book.

Well, we are done with Q1 2015. So you are probably expecting a post about personalization, data science, experience design, a SXSW recap or a Meerkat-vs-Twitter Periscope POV. Those are all on my to-do list, but today we are talking magazines. read-a-magazine

I am going on record that I am a magazine fan.

Frankly I covet them. At any given time I have a half-dozen magazines in my bag. And, candidly, the only thing that makes air travel palatable — aside from seat back TVs — is being able to spend a couple hours getting caught up on my magazine reading.

And what I appreciate about magazines happens to align with what I am excited about when it comes to content planning. Like a world-class magazine, great content combines amazing photography, beautiful layouts, fresh ideas, new thinking and smart writing to capture and hold the reader’s attention.

Brands don’t have a content problem. They have a storytelling problem.

Even the most traditional brands produce extraordinary quantities of content. The big issue is how effectively that content is collected, repurposed and contextualized for communication.

That’s where magazines come in. Month after month magazines face the same challenge. They have to create engaging and entertaining content on generally the same topic and for the same people and do it in a fresh way. Often it’s less about what they say rather than how they say it. Starting to sound familiar?

Think about how a magazine has to approach its editorial. Every issue has to include a cover story, photo and headline to grab everyone’s attention. It needs engaging editorial on a range of subjects — but not so far out of bounds that the reader feels alienated. It needs a page-turning profile or interview of someone who really matters to the core readership. A gear review or product article would be good. Tips and tricks and picks and pans, too. It can’t be easy but magazines do it. Month after month after month.

Now think about your brand and imagine you are in the same situation. Could you put together an editorial calendar of content in a magazine-style format that people would want to read — and share?

I acknowledge that the reasons you develop content to engage audiences will differ from why you pick up your favorite magazine from an airport newsstand. A magazine is dedicated to content creation and publishing. It’s not looking to get its audience to buy a life insurance policy, enterprise security or a new hybrid.

The way you tell your story is as important as what that story is.

Magazines are working harder than ever to keep their readership engaged. It’s the same for brands that are focused on activating their communities and connecting with prospects. Brands need to collect and package their existing content effectively and share it in fresh and entertaining ways, making sure that they tell their stories in a format as well thought out as the stories themselves.

So the next time you pick up a magazine — or skim one on your tablet or device — take a moment to appreciate the nuances of how the content is created, curated, structured and contextualized. See the magazine’s investment in content in terms of the value it delivers to those who view it.

And see your ongoing investment in content as a programmatic shift in your marketing that will deliver even more value to your audience and real purpose to your brand. End of story.