Look at any comparison magazine readership data in the last century and you’ll find something staggering. Reader’s Digest was the most-read magazine of the 20th century. And what worked for them could also make your blog the most-read of the 21st century. Being the most popular magazine in the United States, it offered itself not as an “original,” but as a digest.
The success of Reader’s Digest lies not in the creation of original content, but in the curation and digesting of content that had been published. My colleague just returned from a content curation conference in New York and published this piece: “Content Creation? Curation? Focus on Publishing Instead.”
What’s stunning? Says Duncan Alney, CEO of Firebelly, publishing content is important, “regardless of where it came from.”
De Witt Walace had the same thought when he and his wife published the very first Reader’s Digest from a room in the basement of a Greenwich Village speakeasy. The operation was modest, just as small business blogs are today. And Wallace’s approach was equally so.
According to one source, Wallace “went to The New York Public Library, and copied out by hand from other magazines his own abridged, adapted version of articles he thought would interest readers. The editors of the original magazines considered the circulation of these brief versions to be free advertising.” These briefs gave readers the nub of a matter in a fast moving world.
Extending the Reader’s Digest brand
LIke most good marketers will tell you, extending a product or service will give it more mileage and earn you more money and clout. Wallace did just that. Ten years after the Reader’s Digest launch his editorial staff began publishing full-length articles in prominent magazines, only to digest them later in Wallace’s magazine.
This practice of publishing original content, then curating that in a digest extended the product (content) and give the Reader’s Digest more room to grow and influence.
Tying Reader’s Digest Strategy into Small Business Blogging
Creating, curating and publishing content at the same time doesn’t seem like an easy feat. But, in fact, it can be the best blogging strategy any small business with limited manpower and marketing dollars. For service oriented businesses, combing industry news and codifying it for clients is how this strategy could work for you.
When I managed communication for a wealth management firm, we did this in newsletters. At the time, blogging was in its infancy and difficult to show its return. (Admittedly, I was also green to social media and found it difficult to persuasively argue the benefits to my CEO). Later, however, it’s become quite clear the benefits of the Reader’s Digest strategy to blogging.
Working with Roche Diagnostic on its award-winning social media strategy, we launch a blog that digested years of health, wellness and lifestyle content for people with diabetes. It was an instant success and the program is still going strong.
Given the second part of Wallace’s publishing strategy, we see a herd of men and women publishing books, whitepapers, guest post on other blog, and columns in newspapers and magazines. The savvy ones take that a step further and turn the long-form content into digestible material in their blog.
Does you blogging strategy look like this?