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Monday, August 16, 2010

Content Rules: Stop the Presses! Wait a Minute! Start the Presses!

Back at the turn of the last century, there lived a great baseball player from Brooklyn named Wee Willie Keeler.  Wee Willie played for four teams and holds the 14th best career batting average in history.  He also is a long-time member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  For all his accomplishments on the field, W.W. is perhaps best remembered for a quote. When asked about how to become a great hitter, his answer was "Keep your eye clear, and hit 'em where they ain't."  

Hit 'em where they ain't.  

That seems a pretty good guide to a lot of things in life, including marketing content.  Knowing about the Wee Willie Way is why we were only marginally stunned last week when we read Joe Polizzi's blog at the excellent content marketing site, Junta42, telling us that print is back!

You heard me right. P-R-I-N-T. That five-letter word that sounds as old fashioned as, well, Wee Willie Keeler, might be staging a comeback.  Wasn't print too expensive?  Weren't newspapers too messy?  Books were too cumbersome and better left to Kindles and magical tablets like the iPad, and brochures...well, the stupid things just won't let you click through.  And where are the analytics and heat maps? The ROI and the keywords?  God, what will become of us if our only option is to, ugh, just read something?

I mean just as we are starting to figure out how to keep our snorkels dry in the Tsunami of the all-digital sea, this guy Polizzi says we might have to come out of the water and re-think our content plans.  He says there are seven reasons for this.  But, you know, the more I think about it, the more I start to wonder if he just might be right.  Polizzi says:

  • We are reading more of our mail, because there is less of it. Combine that with the fact that fewer traditional publishers turning out magazines, and there is more room for content marketers to develop magazines that cut through the clutter and get noticed. 
  • Marketing's primary focus is on customer retention and that is what print materials such as newsletters were developed to accomplish. 
  • While print production and distribution costs are higher than digital, audience development cost is virtually non-existent to marketers who can simply use their existing database. 
  • Print seems to stimulate our thinking and analysis far more than digital.   
  • There is a perception among many that a print story still is a more credible source in news and features than anything on the web. People are burned out and cutting back their online time.  Print helps them stay informed or entertained when they choose to "get off the grid." 
There is one more point Joe made, which is that print has been so overlooked and abandoned by content marketers that it just might be the cool new part of the marketing mix. Ultimately, Polizzi's reasoning is simply that opportunity exists where nobody else is looking. So that is how we get back to Wee Willie Keeler and hitting em where they ain't.  I think W.W. just might concur with Mr. Polizzi. 

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