What the Personality Cult of Niche Publications Can Teach Mass Market Brands

As the age of mass-market gives way to special interest everything, big-name publishers are learning some potentially game-changing lessons from the niche side.

At the heart of the lesson is this simple truth: no matter the size of your audience, they are seeking something specific from you. Their interest in your brand goes beyond what you’re writing about. It depends on how you’re writing about it, the personality of your content if you will.

For Culture Trip’s CCO Dmitry Shishkin, that means creating content that meets his user’s needs, in six specific ways:

  1. Update me
  2. Give me perspective
  3. Educate me
  4. Keep me on trend
  5. Amuse me
  6. Inspire me

“Most newsrooms,” Shishkin says, quoted in a post in What’s New in Publishing, “have a tendency to focus predominately on the first. But, with ‘updates’ freely available from various breaking news portals – think Twitter, BBC, to name a few – it’s hard to see how readers, already strapped for time and drowning in subscription requests, would see that kind of content as a valuable way to spend their hard-earned cash. What we look for from the publishers we engage is content that does far more than that.”

“Would these six user needs work for any publication? Within the current affairs sphere, probably,” he continues, “but others have taken the approach back to their non-news organizations and made it work there through applying their own analysis.”

The key is understanding your audience’s personality, what they truly seek from your brand.

“If you’re a stockbroker in London, The FT is your trade publication,” the article notes. “You’re going to need it for work. You’re going to be prepared to pay for it. If you’re working on it, you’re going to know what your readers need.

“If you’ve got a neatly defined user base with a real need for your content, it is never going to be as hard to try and sell that content.”

Understanding the “why” behind your audience will help discover the editorial lynchpin for your content moving forward.

Here’s what I find so fascinating in all of this; understanding your buyer’s “why” is usually talked about in terms of marketing. Yet all the marketing in the world won’t give you a truly engaged audience until you meet their “why” in the content you’re selling.

When you do, the magic starts. Your audience – regardless of how big it is – begins to truly resonate with what you publish.

“… what we have seen through data is that those individual pieces written from a user needs perspective outperform regular pieces by several times.” Dmitry Shishkin, Culture Trip

“Niche or not,” the article continues, “it’s vital now that readers find value in the content that publishers publish. Whether you’re operating on a reader-revenue model or one based on ad revenue, quality engagement with articles is essential.”

If you’re engaged in publishing to a specific niche or interest group – no matter the size – the article is a good read with lots of insights. And it keeps coming around to thinking audience-first. We say it a lot around here. And no, I never get tired of repeating it. It is the lifeblood of publishing in the new media environment, as readers become increasingly selective and search for a tribe they can relate to.