A Manufacturing Journalism Model & Industrial Marketing Content

Ed Marsh | Apr 27, 2016


Ideas & entertainment

manufacturing journalism operates differently than mass media and news media. Where the cominant mass media firms and general mass media broad audiences in pursuit of advertising revenue, manufacturing journalism is about building brand equity, lead generation and sales enablementFor centuries we had books. Then mass media including papers, radio, TV. Then the web and the explosion in "content."

The concept of "content" as a "thing" still seems odd. It used to be that the exchange of ideas; the process of education; and pure entertainment were the goals, and the medium (i.e. whether folio or stage production) was simply a function of convenience and format of delivery.

Then we entered this weird warp where content itself is the destination. What a strange journey.....

Valuable content and breadth of contribution

industrial manufacturers should own their content through manufacturing journalism. That includes thinking of their content like mass media - with written, visual, audible and video content published in ways so that all elements interact. Missing video will put manufacturers at a serious disadvantage.Many lament that content today often has no educational or entertainment value, and frequently introduces no ideas of merit. And many point out that "valuable" or "remarkable" content which is properly promoted and distributed is particularly impactful against the background of noise.

The real impact seems to be at an intersection: of content which provides professional and business value and a universe of widely distributed thinkers, writers and publishing platforms.

Attempts to aggregate content as a business model have struggled. Even active properties like HuffingtonPost aren't necessarily great businesses when measured by return & profitability. The failure rate of aggregations is high and editorial distortions almost invariably occur.

The barrier has been the financial model. Annual/monthly subscriptions and ad revenue have been the two basic approaches. And both encounter substantial resistance in a digital world.


Let's assume you've started to build a body of epic content (maybe that's the new buzzword for quality) and distribute and promote it properly as John Jantsch (@DuctTape) suggests in his article here.

And then let's assume that  you're moving beyond simple incremental improvement in content marketing by transitioning toward a MANUFACTURING JOURNALISM™ model and awareness and comfort with the fact that you're actually building a media company. Suddenly you're aware that there must be a profit orientation of your new media ownership.

At that point your content will deliver results ranging from vanilla to extraordinary:

  • establish authority
  • create leads
  • help to nurture and close deals
  • engage customers
  • build industry gravity
  • make you and your team sought after industry experts
  • create data and insights which you'll likely be able to monetize beyond simple revenue growth
  • provide platform opportunities beyond traditional websites

when manufacturers start to see their content publishing like news media, they can structure their manufacturing marketing like media organizations and may even gradually earn privileged access to industry eventsToward the end of that list are some possibilities that would require some flexible thinking from CFOs accustomed to traditional manufacturing revenue models. But they still tend to feature content as a tool to achieve another result (even when that result is as far from manufactured products as a body of data and insights which you could convert into a major asset potentially intriguing to a strategic acquirer.)

But what would happen if your content was good enough that in fact the content itself, or the opportunity to interact with it, became a revenue source?

After all, isn't this what trade associations have long done with their media content? They focus on communicating messages that resonate with the corporate interests of their target audience and the economic necessity of their members.

Micropayments and a new content business model

manufacturing marketing isn't a propaganda model. It's about creating value for an industry. Just as dominant mass media firms serve favored audiences, manufacturing journalism can serve dominant private interests in an industryI predict that eventually content will be valued the old fashioned way - paid for. But not the speculative investment represented by a subscription. That's too burdened with uncertainty these days. "Will I have time? Will it help? Is it searchable? Can I read it off line?" and more.

People will pay to recognize value, or perhaps in small amounts to unlock longer content when the abstract appears to align with their interests.

But instead of some site specific, cumbersome account with yet another password and username, what about an option that would allow them to distribute micro payments from a single consolidated account.

Have you heard of ChangeTip? I think it's a fascinating model which will evolve from recognizing artistic achievement with small contributions to monetizing business value.

What if companies gave their engineers, for instance, a monthly expense account on changetip.com

After all, some news sites are charging readers to leave comments or to promote their comments ahead of others.  

How will it all shake out? Don't know. 

Will ChangeTip be the vehicle? Don't know.

What about micro payments with digital currency? Could be.

What I think is clear, though, is that the nature of content creation, distribution, promotion and marketing is changing.

Companies should be well down the path of evolving from standard industrial marketing to a MANUFACTURING JOURNALISM™ model. But they can't stop there. Company leadership, with the help of appropriate consultants, should be constantly challenging and experimenting.

That's the only way to remain agile and alert enough to avoid irrelevance and capture nascent opportunities.

When will Google start to factor this in relevance?

Now let's get really carried away.....

What if social sharing (which we know often doesn't necessarily even indicate someone fully read or even skimmed an article) became less important, and the micro payments generated by a piece of content became a major ranking factor.

Crazy? Maybe. But the Holy Grail of search is relevance of results - is there a better yardstick than what people will pay for?


If the whole content marketing shtick is feeling stale to you, you're not alone. It's hard to achieve ever greater degrees of success without substantially adapting to changing conditions. The days of 3 blogs/week are over.

So instead of doubling down, or giving up on your content approach to industrial marketing, maybe we should chat. As a strategy and management consultant that understands revenue growth levers, I often explore unique approaches with clients that they've neither thought of nor had any other "marketing agency" suggest.

Let's chat.

Contrasting Mainstream Media to Manufacturing Journalism

As content creation and distribution evolve quickly it's essential to understand the distinct pathways followed by industrial marketing and the mass media business model. These two realms, while seemingly divergent, intersect at various points. You may note that manufacturing marketing doesn't purport to report on political economy and the mechanisms of influence and control, but there are some interesting comparisons.

Political Economy and the Propaganda Model

The concept of the political economy plays a pivotal role in understanding the dynamics of mass media. The propaganda model, initially articulated by Edward Bernays and later expounded upon by folks like Noam Chomsky, suggests that mass media serve as instruments for manufacturing consent of the masses. This model argues that mass media news is often sourced not from independent journalistic endeavors but from a network of interests - for instance business corporations and entities that gain special access to the media platform. In this regard, the primary income source for mass media comes from advertising licenses and corporate sponsorships, subtly shaping the news content to reflect elite interests.

Sourcing Mass Media News: The Role of Business Firms

Big business firms and corporations often function as de facto licensing authorities for mass media content. By controlling a significant portion of the media's costs through advertising revenues, these firms exert a considerable influence over what is considered newsworthy. This influence extends to the control mechanism over news sources, often prioritizing narratives that align with their interests.

Industrial Marketing Content: A Different Approach

In contrast, the content creation in industrial marketing does not primarily rely on advertising license for revenue. Instead, it is more directly aligned with the specific needs and interests of the target audience, often focusing on detailed, technical content that serves a niche market. This approach allows industrial marketers to bypass the need to cater to broader market share considerations that often dictate content in mass media.

The goals of manufacturing marketing content are selfish (to create demand) but hinge on altruism (helping the audience benefit personally.)

Manufacturing Consent and Market Share

The concept of manufacturing consent in the mass media is closely tied to the pursuit of market share. Concentrated ownership in media corporations leads to a homogenization of news content, where narratives are often skewed to align with the interests of a select few. This approach contrasts sharply with industrial marketing, where the content is more specialized, catering to specific industry needs rather than aiming for a broad market appeal.

Propaganda Model Today: Relevance in the Digital Age

In today's digital age, the propaganda model remains relevant, especially in the context of news content dissemination on social media and digital platforms. The concentrated ownership of these platforms can often lead to similar patterns of content control and bias. However, industrial marketing, with its focus on specific business-to-business (B2B) niches, remains somewhat insulated from these broader media trends.

Cynics may see industrial marketing content as propaganda. It's crucial, therefore, for industrial manufacturers to speak to their prospects' and customers' business problems, and not about their self serving fixation on their product and services.

Television Station vs. Online Content Platforms

The traditional role of a television station as a news disseminator is increasingly being challenged by online content platforms. These platforms offer an alternative for industrial marketers to reach their audience directly, without the intermediation of traditional mass media channels. This direct access allows for a more unfiltered and targeted approach to content creation and distribution.

Yet people respond to video. The ability to consume video in a non linear way (YouTube chapters, etc.) makes it a powerful and effective way to communicate messages. And video is a powerful search engine optimization approach as well.

Advertising License: A Key Divergence

One of the key divergences between mass media and industrial marketing is the reliance on an advertising license. While mass media depends heavily on advertising for revenue, industrial marketing often utilizes content as a direct value proposition to its audience, focusing on the creation of white papers, case studies, and technical blogs.

Elite Interests vs. Industry-Specific Needs

Finally, the contrast between serving elite interests in mass media and addressing industry-specific needs in industrial marketing is stark. Industrial marketing content is designed to inform and educate a targeted audience, often providing in-depth analysis and data-driven insights. This approach stands in contrast to the mass media's often broad and generalized content, designed to appeal to a wider but less specialized audience.

While both industrial marketing and mass media operate within the broader context of content creation and distribution, their approaches, influences, and objectives are markedly different. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for businesses and marketers aiming to navigate the complex landscape of modern content strategies.