Content To Commerce

I have spent the whole day talking to tech clients, and potential clients, about new ways to bring innovative products to market. I have seen the future, and I believe the old traditional ways of retailing do not work.

I have watched too many companies work their buns off convincing Best Buy or Amazon, to carry their new products, only to see them not sell. If start-up companies don’t have millions of advertising dollars to drive traffic into stores, or to e-commerce sites, then many products fail. Major brands suffer too. They cannot afford big budget promotions for every product they introduce.

Most retailers today do very little to support the products they sell. It’s not that they don’t want to. They just don’t have the promotional budgets. In fact, retailers charge manufacturers so much money to sell their products that most companies can’t afford them anymore. Department stores and big chains charge for the real estate space on retail floors, displays, and promotions. The costs are staggering.

The digital world now presents new opportunities to market products directly to the consumer.  A growing number of online editorial sites now allow companies to market and/or sell to targeted audiences. They call them affiliate sales programs or integrated marketing. They are done subtlety and in good taste. In-house publication writers create the copy and “buy now” clicks are featured adjacent to stories.

Before you start screaming that you don’t want ads disguised as stories, publications clearly mark them as  “sponsored content.” They also limit the number they run in each issue. By the way, native advertising (subliminal or blended) content has been around for years. It’s just becoming more popular.

The big appeal is that publication sites have millions of readers who are exactly the target audience manufacturers are looking for. No more, “we will build it and they will come.” That’s not true and unrealistic. Why reinvent the wheel? If online publications already have tremendous built-in audiences, then companies who have something to sell should take advantage of these enterprises.

I’m not a fan of “sponsored content” even though I bought wrinkle cream (which works) from a daily newspaper and shoes from a fashion magazine. In both cases, the products were properly positioned to catch my eye. It’s true that I don’t want to read a publication filled with “sponsored content,” but a story or two, doesn’t bother me.

I am also encouraging clients to run special videos, sponsor social influencers posts, create online campaigns and get involved in all kinds of digital sales opportunities. The key is to get the potential customer to buy almost immediately.

Until retailers can start reinventing themselves to provide sales environments that support manufacturers, the digital editorial will be the chosen alternative.