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Why You Should Run Your Website Like a Magazine

by Ken Gordon  |  
December 7, 2010

In this article, you'll learn...

  • How to avoid the deadly pit of uninspired corporate content
  • Six ways to think about and create website content

Know why so many company websites are so incredibly, absurdly, infuriatingly... dull? Why so many corporate blog posts are little more than the undistinguished opinions of an executive or three, followed with the saddest of all online responses: "0 comments"?

To find out why, just watch a few episodes of Next Food Network Star. On NFNS, one follows the contestants week after week, as one wannabe Mario Batali, then another, then another gets booted off the program. What happens at the end? The winner gets her own show, minus all the other personalities and the drama of competition, and suddenly... she's not that interesting.

Moral of the story: It's contrast that makes a good program, and contrast that will make your Web content worth reading.

Content marketing—successful content marketing—should be more than an online depository for the random thoughts of your CEO. Executive opinion writing is fine as a form of expression, but it's limited and, when unleavened by anything else, very often dull.

So: How do you avoid the deep deadly pit of uninspired corporate content? Simple. If you want people to come to your site, and stay there, your content should be as rich and varied as that of a good consumer magazine. Offer that kind of variety, and you'll really build a community.

Here's how.

Think in terms of different departments, or regularly recurring kinds of content, for your website. You want to offer a true variety of relevant stuff, and to provide information that is as far from a sale pitch, and as close to journalism, or in some cases, entertainment, as you can manage. Also: Consider your audience. What kinds of narratives should you offer them? Your customers or constituents have various things that bind them together. Find out about their interests.

EMS customers, let us say, care about the environment and a healthy lifestyle and adventure travel—and if the company wanted to create some content marketing, it'd do well to peruse the sorts of things published in Outside, National Geographic, or even Men's Health or Women's Health, and adapt them for its organically rough-and-tumble audience.

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Ken Gordon is the social-media manager for the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education. If you liked this article—or you happen to care about excellence in Jewish education—please Like the PEJE Facebook page.

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  • by Dylan Jones Tue Dec 7, 2010 via web

    Great advice Ken, thanks for sharing.

  • by Ken Gordon Tue Dec 7, 2010 via web

    Thanks, Dylan.

  • by tapuah Wed Dec 8, 2010 via web

    hi ken, i agree to a certain extent, I truly think it depends on the business you run and the brand qualities. some brands, are loved and are popular for their ability to give straight info without trying to look "hip" and "with-it". they represent solidness "old school" get to the point info.

  • by Kim Wed Dec 8, 2010 via web

    I was drawn in by the title as I manage the content for my company's website; it's a professional services firm. I'm still mulling this over and will continue throughout the day, but could you provide an example of how any one of your suggestions would apply to a B2B website?

  • by Ken Gordon Wed Dec 8, 2010 via web

    Hey, tapuah--

    I totally agree: Not every brand should aim to post "hip" web content. But it makes sense, if one is building a website for, say, an old-school company, to look to high-quality publications for inspiration. There are all kinds of magazines out there--hip AND unhip--that offer guidance to people tasked with creating company content.


  • by Ken Gordon Wed Dec 8, 2010 via web

    Hi, Kim:

    Well, B2B buyers are people, too--and they read (and are entertained and informed by) magazine articles. It's hard to suggest what sort of content the abstract readers of a generic B2B website might need. You should try to get specific. Try to (a) figure out what your web audience needs and (b) provide this information in forms that are effective and engaging (which you can find in the pages of professional publications).

    Actually: a model for good B2B content is the late, great 1099 Magazine (Disclosure: I worked there many years ago as a modest associate editor.) 1099 did a good job of informing AND entertaining an audience that was obsessed with winning new work and client relationships. Look around and see if anything there inspires you.

    Hope this helps,


  • by Krista Mon Dec 13, 2010 via web

    True but then again, not everyone can write and not everyone wants to write. ;-) Creative thinking of good topics to blog or write about is really quite rare and sometimes a feat!

  • by Ken Gordon Mon Dec 13, 2010 via web

    You're right, Krista--sometimes it makes sense to admit that one isn't a writer and just hire one of these people.

  • by Jay Wilder Mon Dec 13, 2010 via web

    Nicely written post...Contrast in your content and POV is a great theme to keep in mind. Another contrast to consider is the medium of the post - mix up between your standard text posts and video posts. I love how Time Magazine mixes up the format of the information in a bunch of styles...Rolling Stone does this well too...Makes it very easy to keep going cover to cover without eye mental fatigue by mixing up the delivery.

  • by Ken Gordon Mon Dec 13, 2010 via web

    A great point, Jay. I think people should mix it up with video! Actually, I say we should be using ALL the multimedia resources that the Internet provides. One of my favorite examples of mixing it up comes from a cartoonist named Steve Sheinkin. He took a dusty old literary idea--the Q&A interview--and recast it in the form of a cartoon:

    Think, content marketers, of how you might apply this kind of thing to your work!

  • by Jill Baker Thu Dec 16, 2010 via web

    This is an excellent analogy -- esp. good for those transitioning from print to web. Reminds us that just because the format has changed, we can't skimp on the caliber of content. Am already sharing this post with friends and colleagues.

  • by Ken Gordon Thu Dec 16, 2010 via web

    Thanks, Jill.

  • by Carlos Tue Mar 8, 2011 via web

    Very useful thanks!

  • by Ken Gordon Wed Mar 9, 2011 via web

    You bet, Carlos!

  • by daispardais Tue Oct 29, 2013 via web

    well, its really great, i like it very much

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