In-House Media: Differentiate Your Brand

In a struggling economy, every business needs to differentiate itself. While some online companies may resort to gimmicks that catch people's attention for a fleeting moment of glory (and revenue), the businesses that succeed over the long haul will find ways to invest in new initiatives that do not require much time or resources, but do generate long-lasting brand enhancement and visibility.

As CMO of Epic Advertising, a global online performance marketing company, I tasked myself with this challenge early in 2009 -- and it went beyond differentiating us from our competitors. My goal was to inform and educate the online marketing and advertising communities with relevant and compelling information they would find useful. So, I created an in-house magazine called "Winning the Web" to provide these communities with information and insight about best practices for successful online businesses.

All of this is great, some may say ... if you have the time and resources to it. And you do. Every company has enough time and resources to create rich, compelling media content that shapes the dialogue within its own industry. It is all a matter of seeing past the hurdles and realizing the opportunities that await.



There is a myth that really good content costs a lot of time and money to create. Not true! We run our magazine with only two in-house marketing employees writing and creating content, along with a publishing partner that supports content and production. The "boot-strap mentality" -- i.e., getting your feet wet in content creation and making something happen immediately -- is how to start. Once you get positive momentum, then you can bring in other resources and expand upon the content and/or delivery mechanism. But if you over-analyze every aspect of the process, your efforts will be dead in the water before you even begin.

Our goal -- and one that we believe every company should have when creating in-house media content -- is to think of helping others first. When creating your own in-house media content, find a way to enrich your industry with neutral expertise and insight that gives people true value, rather than acting as an additional advertising venue for your company. People want unique value in media content, and it is your responsibility to give them that.

There are numerous internal benefits to creating in-house media content that will only become apparent if you are diligent with how you create and publish your content. A well-planned content production program will build a searchable database of your company's expertise about various industry-specific topics.

Properly tagged URLs and keyword-rich content will enhance your SEO, putting your business in front of many more influential movers and shakers than ever before.

You can also use your in-house content (magazine, industry blog, videos, etc.) to increase executive visibility and enhance the reputation of your clients by highlighting their work and examining their best practices. This builds goodwill within the industry and strengthens relationships with competitors and clients in a non-invasive manner.

Above all else, do not be afraid to take risks. For example, we are a Web advertising company, yet we created a print magazine that does not have any outside advertising. It has proven a great success, with big corporate names now featured in and contributing to our magazine. Don't try to be all things to all people; instead, focus on great content that adds value to others. In short, keep it simple.

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