Content as objects

I have a somewhat peculiar way of reading magazines, particularly trade publications: I tear them apart. I read as I go, and if I like an article, it winds up in a "pile to be re-read". A foot of magazines can quickly become a half inch of things to be re-read, but that's where the problem starts.

Things pile up, mostly unsorted, for a while. Good ideas sometimes get lost, and even the ones I find again have started to age.

I haven't solved that problem (yes, I have tried Evernote; it hasn't pushed me over the top just yet). But this past weekend I did rediscover an idea from Harvard Business Review that isn't old at all.

In its first issue of 2013, the magazine ran a one-page "Idea Watch" article, "Rethinking the 4 P's". In it, three marketers propose replacing the four components of most marketing plans – product, place (channel), price and promotion – with what they call "SAVE":

  • Solutions (instead of products)
  • Access (instead of place, or channel)
  • Value (instead of price), and
  • Education (instead of promotion)

Although the authors (Richard Ettenson, Eduardo Conrado and Jonathan Knowles) focus on the application of "SAVE" in business-to-business (B2B) settings, I think it holds value for publishers looking to serve the needs of both defined and latent communities. Consider the language used to describe the new approach:

  • "Define offerings by the needs they meet, not by their features, functions or technological superiority"
  • "Develop an integrated cross-channel presence that considers customers' entire purchase journey"
  • "Articulate the benefits relative to price, rather than stressing how price relates to production costs, profit margins or competitors' prices"
  • "Provide information relevant to customers' specific needs at each point in the purchase cycle"

We tend to think of books and magazines as content objects, not solutions. The book business, in particular, laments the decline of traditional ways that people have discovered what they read. I think the answer to how we market content in the future will start to come when we stop thinking of content as objects.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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