Now that many brands are figuring out how to produce content efficiently, their natural tendency is to publish more of it, faster. More must be better, right? When it comes to content marketing, no. In most cases, it’s a race to irrelevance.
The greatest value lies in the QUALITY of your thinking, not the QUANTITY.
The glut of content is about to get worse
According to the B2B Content Marketing – 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report recently published by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 73% of the most effective B2B marketers say they will increase the amount of content they produce in 2016. An astounding 81% of the least effective marketers will do this year. At the same time, 40% of the least effective marketers say they do not have a content marketing strategy – written or verbal.
Without a strategy, most companies find themselves in the mode of throwing a bunch of spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks, figuratively speaking. They produce some content and measure the results. But what they end up with is a pile of disjointed pieces that do nothing to build trusted relationships with their target audience. In addition, they tend to discover that the tradeoff between quantity and quality is almost unavoidable.
In other words, more content almost always results in lower quality.
In the early days of content marketing, the tactic of producing more content was generally accepted as a best practice. But even CMI has backed away from that in the last year or two as the world has become buried under a glut of low-value listicles, basic “how-to” articles and other forms of “evergreen content.” Robert Rose, CMI’s chief strategist, now advocates producing the minimum amount of content you need to generate the impact you require, but no more.
This approach makes abundant sense because it is driven by a clear strategy and objectives. You must have measurable goals in mind in order to know how much impact your efforts are generating.
Absent goals, the metrics you’re tracking have little or no meaning.
Here are three ways poor content quality can actually damage your brand:
- Irrelevance breeds ignorance: If your content isn’t relevant to the needs of your prospective customers, they will quickly learn to ignore it.
- Sayonara, boring content: They may become more active in blocking your communications by unsubscribing from your email list and unfollowing you on social networks. Think about the ways in which you pare down your online networks, and who you eliminate first. Your target audience will likely use similar criteria to weed you out of their networks. Nobody has time for self-serving, irrelevant communications.
- I found someone else: Existing customers may get so tired of your irrelevant communications that they may switch suppliers – that’s the worst-case scenario, obviously, but it IS possible.
Unfortunately, however, old ways die hard. Many companies will continue to turn the crank faster and will pursue strategies and tactics to “scale” their content marketing efforts. In some large industries and markets, that may still make some sense, as brands jockey to become the thought leaders in their niche.
But for the majority of brands and industries, there is NO discernable reward for the volume of content created. In most cases, more mediocre content just becomes part of the background noise and gets ignored by customers and prospects.
What should you do now?
Invest more time creating a smaller quantity of high quality, creative content. It needs to be clearly focused on the needs of its target audience and must be clearly differentiated from its competitors to rise above the noise and make a lasting impact.
Take your time: When you only have one opportunity to influence a potential customer, you must put your best foot forward. Take your time and do it right!