Good content can be as long as you like – the art of (not) too long; did read
...we will either burn before reading or our brains will melt before we get past about the third sentence, right?
Content marketing has become yet another false hero for the desperate marketer over the last year or two. Somebody somewhere made the concept fashionable and a whole bandwagon has set in motion. It’s not new (writing stuff has been around quite a while!) it is getting big, but gosh it could be a lot more clever.
Amongst the obvious value and genuinely good advice and thinking that such a movement brings, a groundswell has slowly convinced us, the content writing world, that we mustn’t dare right produce a piece of content that is long; over seven hundred words is a modern day War And Peace, over ninety seconds of video is today’s Gone With The Wind, all 238 backside-numbing minutes of it.
But for me this is fundamentally wrong and not only risks another year of inadequate content to be launched on the unsuspecting and underwhelmed world, it insults to the intelligence of most of your audience.
Quality over quantity has always been true, for sure, but why should that mean it has to be a really short snappy piece of content to be of true value and relevance?
If your content is well-written, has true value and/or relevance then it can be as long as you wish.
Still with me? Good, my point somewhat proven then.
Yes, it pays to think hard about playing to some assumptions where no evidence exists – typically to get somebody’s interest early on in a relationship you will need to keep things concise, but why can’t the opening title, paragraph, sentence or fifteen seconds you speak be that piece?
It’s all too easy when using content marketing in B2B to assume that you just put small bite size bits of content at the start and gradually give your reader more as they seamlessly move themselves down your marketing lead funnel, behaving like every other homogenous human being out there.
But guess what? That won’t work. We don’t behave in rational linear ways.
What’s to say that the person who reads that 140 character update or post doesn’t already know everything they need (or choose) to about you and your organisation and that tweet was the final reminder or push they needed to pick up the phone and place that order or arrange a visit.
So, when it comes to writing, focus not on how to fracture your content into morsels akin to the start of a Hansel and Gretel-esque tale, but instead focus on relevance and value and quality and let it be whatever length it will be.
If it's online content you will soon know and be able to compare a long versus short piece anyway – which one gets the traffic, shares, follow up etc.– there’s your clue.
And this isn’t just me waking up on the wrong side of the writing bureau today and landed on my soapbox. If validity you need then consider a longstanding hero of ours at Cyance, Seth Godin, who published an interesting piece this morning talking about TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) and how he is urging content creators of the word to think differently – to fill his time with well-written and valuable over whimsical and snappy.
To that point, some further reading for any of you that are still with me – this document was crowd-sourced at a client event we ran recently and hopefully the title ("top trends in B2B Marketing in 2014") gives you some insight on what it's about and why you should read it. Be warned though, it’s nearly five pages long and is packed with really useful thoughts on where to focus your time in 2014 as a b2b marketer, so only read it if you can afford such ideas and words to fill your mind…