From content shock to content success

Last week I was reminded of a 2014 article called Content Shock. In it, Mark Shaefer suggests that content creation isn’t a sustainable marketing technique. Not when every brand out there seems to be constantly churning out content on hundreds of different topics.

How can we possibly expect our brand’s blog or article to be found and read amongst a mountain of similar pieces other brands have written? After all, people only have so much attention to give. Eventually, Shaefer argued, companies would have to pay far too much in both time and money in order to capture people’s priceless attention. It just wouldn’t be worthwhile.  

However, five years on from the Content Shock article, we’re somehow consuming even more content. Instead of content not being sustainable as a marketing technique, we’re now at a point where you could reasonably argue that marketing is content.

So, was Shaefer just totally wrong with his predictions?

There will always be demand for quality content

Well, not exactly. There is definitely some truth to his argument that even back in 2014 the supply of content had surpassed the demand for it. Especially for some topics.

The problem is that Shaefer didn’t make the distinction between good content and bad content.  

The demand for quality, helpful content hasn’t diminished at all. And it won’t diminish. The problem is that there’s so much content out there that isn’t very good and isn’t particularly helpful. I mean the type of content that doesn’t answer the questions and doubts that are keeping your prospects up at night. Content that isn’t engaging or inspiring anyone.

So why is there so much of this unhelpful content out there?

Well, one reason is that a lot of brands aren’t very clear on why they’re writing a piece of content in the first place. They might decide to write about a particular topic that’s on-trend at that given moment and they feel like they should join the party. Or perhaps there are internal stakeholders within the company pushing in a particular direction.

But creating content this way doesn’t tend to be very strategic. And it doesn’t tend to be written with the intention of helping prospects and customers along their journey.

From content shock to content success

Know who it is you’re writing content for

These days, if you want your brand’s content to connect with your ideal customer, you need to really know who this customer is. What motivates and inspires her? What problems does she have that your product or service could solve? In 2019 these are the questions you need to be asking yourself before you even think about writing or commissioning a piece of content.

But a lot of brands aren’t asking these questions. So their content doesn’t resonate with anyone. It gets lost, and these same brands start to doubt whether it’s even worth creating content in the first place. They begin to believe in the idea of content shock.

It’s a shame, because content success is possible. You just need to spend some time figuring out the type of customer you’re writing for in the first place. Shift the focus from your brand being the protagonist to the reader (or prospect) taking the lead role.

It’s a role consumers today increasingly expect to play. A side-effect of the huge amount of content being published every day is that they are now more demanding than ever. They can tell if what they’re reading seems generic. Worse still, they’re pretty unforgiving if your brand’s content doesn’t help them or solve their problems. They’ll think that you’ve wasted their precious time.

So, here’s my advice to any brands out there who still believe in the idea of content shock - those who see all the other articles out there as a reason not to bother with content marketing:

Your conclusion shouldn’t be “what’s the point in writing content?” Rather, it should be “right, we need better focused, more compelling content that’s targeted at our ideal customer.”

If you consistently create content with a genuine desire to make life easier for your prospects and customers, you will see the benefits in the long run.

I help brands to understand who their ideal customer is. Then I write compelling content that connects with that audience across the buyer journey.

You can find out more about my services