Four Reasons to Consider Custom Publishing

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Lori Rosen
Lori Rosen

Custom publishing is rapidly becoming a preferred customer relationship tool for companies in industries as diverse as pet food, telecommunications, hotels, and banking. This $47.2 billion industry has grown significantly in the past few years. Much of the growth in custom publishing has come from its expanding definition. Most people are familiar with custom magazines. Today's definition of custom publishing includes magazines, as well as content-rich platforms in both print and digital formats, that help companies engage with prospects and customers to change or reinforce behavior.

Last year, custom content enjoyed its best year ever, even as consumer and business-to-business trade magazines languished, according to the Custom Content Council (formerly Custom Publishing Council), marketers spent more money on branded content in 2009 than any other year, averaging $1.8 million per company, with 51% spent on print publications, 27% on Internet media, and 22% on other categories such as video and audio, according to the council. The 2009 spending figure was double the 2008 total.

Lori Rosen, executive director of the Custom Content Council, cites several four reasons for companies to consider investing in this channel to build and grow customer relationships.

1. Custom publications allow marketers to control the message

Today's custom publications aren't multi-page advertisements. The best mimic – and sometimes rival – top mainstream magazines in terms of quality. Editorial content is predominantly lifestyle-centric. Custom publications serve up journalistically-written, objective news and features and they carry interesting and intriguing stories. Importantly, custom publications are of high quality and are well-designed. “They have to be high quality or they risk losing the audience,” says Rosen. “Companies that invest in custom media do focus groups and readership studies in an effort to continually improve content.”

2. Targeting and segmentation strategies work in the custom channel

Custom publications can be versioned as with direct mail and can be personalized, highly targeted both from a demographic standpoint as well as individual customer interest. “More and more research is being conducted on custom media, so it's becoming more effective as a channel,” she explains. “Traditional marketing techniques can be applied to custom that increase return on investment.” Her association's most recent research shows the average age of a custom title is eight years, and the value of longevity is aiding the industry in compiling best practices and trend data. 

3. Custom content follows the customer

In the Council's annual survey, researchers found that 74% of all custom content is delivered by mail. But Rosen stresses that custom content is industry and platform agnostic. “As social media has exploded, it is also opening up opportunities for custom content to utilize new distribution channels,” she says. “Mobile programs are becoming more prevalent. Consumers are open to receiving content in many different ways.”

4. Consumers prefer the custom channel           

Considering that the public is constantly bombarded by advertisements every day on a wide range of media, it might come as a surprise that custom publications – when done right – aren't viewed as advertising. According to the Custom Content Council research, 80% of consumers prefer receiving information about a company through its custom publication.

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