Content Marketing: Stop talking about quality; just do it
Lots of great work (and there are some great examples) but often smothered by a volume of mediocrity.
It seems that so many companies are taking the volume approach which means that users (buyers and influencers) need to scratch around to find the gems that actually add value. On the downside − sooner or later, they’ll get bored, and stop looking − which is a real shame, because great content benefits everyone.
The weird thing is, everyone knows what the problem is. Everyone says they want to see quality. But still the endless shovelling of empty, boring, worthless content goes on.
Tell you what: let’s all be brave, and just STOP for a moment. As marketers, we are empowered to do something. So let’s just get on with it − QUALITY vs quantity.
Now, when Google decided to penalise repetitive, cut−and−paste content found on multiple sites, I’m pretty sure it didn’t mean for marketers to tweak the exact same article, making the exact same point, into five ever−so−slightly−different versions! Yes, it provided a short−term SEO gain. But at what cost to your credibility? Buyers aren’t stupid, and when they realise you’ve wasted their time they won’t thank you for it.
After all, one of the goals of your content is to foster a relationship based on trust and understanding. When you achieve this this you’ll be proving your credentials, winning the buyer’s confidence so much that your content is considered indispensable because you’re adding valuable insight at every turn. Will potential customers thank you for bogging down their research efforts by rephrasing the same thing over and over again? Probably not.
Repetitive, value−free content is the OPPOSITE of Content Marketing.
So. Let’s all make a pledge. Repeat after me:
“I do solemnly swear, upon my honour as a marketing professional, not to upload, email or post any item of content that does not satisfy the following three tests…”
1. Real content marketing inspires an identified audience or answers a genuine need.
Strategy comes before content creation, not afterwards − and if you’re looking at a piece of work, wondering where best to place it, you’re doing it wrong. It’s essential to have a plan before you press the “start” button.
Find your audience, engage with them and, above all, listen. Then provide them with relevant, tailored, appropriate content, in a way that inspires them to come back again and again.
2. Effective content relies on quality.
Be brutally honest about each bit of content: does the quality enhance your brand, or detract from it?
Be realistic about your capabilities, too. If you’re not able to write, design, edit, film or otherwise create content to an appropriate standard, you’ll need to invest in specialist support. If you can’t do that, think twice about producing it.
That doesn’t mean everything needs to be pristine, big−budget and delivered in glorious HD. Sometimes a quick forum post or a smartphone−shot video will do (seriously: we won a B2B Marketing Award last year with three toy dinosaurs, a great script, a creative plan…and a Flip camera). The point is − your content needs to be brilliant. If it is: it will affect your audience; your content will get noticed; it will go viral; it will have a positive impact on your brand and you’ll be the ‘Rockstar’. But only with a solid plan.
3. Content only works if it’s valuable, useful, different or new.
Don’t give the audience something they already have. Great content can inspire, amuse, entertain, explain or simply help… but not if they’ve heard it all before. It has to stand out. It has to be different. Otherwise, why bother?
That doesn’t mean you can’t recycle valuable work and ideas across different audiences; just that the location, format and information for each piece needs to be properly thought through. And, most of all, it needs to be relevant.
Relevant content shows you understand your audience; being consistently relevant builds relationships and trust.
Let’s stop talking about content marketing’s problems, and just get on with doing it right.
As marketers, it is within our power to turn down the volume of the background noise online. And if we deliver exceptional content, this becomes our own volume control. Let’s provide more space for our readers, viewers and users (you know, our customers) to find and enjoy the content they are looking for.
Or we can continue the low−quality content arms race, and soon enough none of it will work for anyone.