Tom Webster's recent article, “When Content Marketing Stops Working," explores why it’s tougher to be successful in your content marketing efforts, and also what you must do and not do to start blogging and run an effective content marketing process.
Here I write a response to Tom’s post, throw in some ideas of my own and make a proposal.
Tom raised the following issues:
1. It takes more effort to get a blog off the ground
And the following solutions:
1. Exit the activity
2. Increase your expertise
3. Step up your content marketing game
Regarding Tom's issues I had the following thoughts:
1. You are not making content - Content marketing is a misnomer in a way, making content is the process, rather the result you seek. You want results; you want more sales as the final consequence of your actions. And whether its advertising or blogging, building a consistent process for being in media, whether it’s developing ads, content or relationships that increase your awareness is what matters. I think it is an important point to make that while it takes more effort to be successful. Though that extra effort presents an opportunity, if you reach your goal it’s harder to be dislodged from your position of excellence. It is a matter of putting more effort into the process of content marketing, more volume, more relationships etc.
2. Zero sum game, or is it? - Tom argues that over time the returns from content marketing will decline because there more knowledge and awareness in the industry about what it takes to be successful. With that wider awareness and knowledge about content marketing it is more difficult to enter the market place to be successful, but maybe also to maintain a position.
I think we should discuss more about what goes into making a content marketing process successful, and if every tactic is equal in its value to the process. For example, if part of the process of content marketing is about relationships, building successful relationships within a community may be a bigger factor in success than the quality of your content. Here's why, if you have a community of people, who you are in part dependent upon to advocate for your content, and those community members only have so much time to build relationships themselves, anyone who is good at maintaining relationships will succeed in maintaining individual relationships over time. And at a certain point, those community members can only have so many friends, at least your relationship and connection with each friend decreases over time. But those people who understand how to support you, and you have a long relationship with are much more likely to stay top of mind than the ever increasing number of people who come into the marketplace.
Regarding Tom’s solutions let me say this:
1. Unfriending you - I'm still wondering if we really developed a good economic model here, surely there are factors such as relationship building that have finite limits because the players in the community only have so much time to maintain relationships, and also as a community grows the value of existing relationships increases not decreases if the actors are careful at maintaining relationships?
2. Quality comes from expertise - Tom's right, the focus has to be on expertise. We talk a lot about quality content, but what does that mean? Well I'd agree if you increase your expertise in your chosen profession you'll have advantages over everyone else. In fact, I think that should be the focus of your content strategy, learning. It's something of an unspoken secret in blogging, and I suppose writing and journalism. You'll learn more from the content you write than the audience who reads it. Keep learning and you'll keep on improving your content.
3. Doubling back - Be more thoughtful about a question in your area of expertise, analyze and delve into a point no one else would do. Content marketing is not just about content, but social interactions. Ask your community, and as result of those interactions you'll discover new information, and in greater volume. I've worked on and off on the topic of the Fortune 500 Business Blogs, and worked with a number of contributors who reviewed blogs or conducted interviews, I believe this larger project gives the community better insights into what it takes to be successful in writing and running a blog.
Tom ends his article by stating that content isn't going to stop working anytime soon, I think he is right. Part of the issue of running a successful content marketing process is that there are still few companies that put the resources and expertise in place to execute well. However, things are improving, and marketers and the industry are getting better. Especially at the top of the heap in content marketing, and it's been the tech marketers who lead the pack as in the early days of blogging 2000-2005. It is tougher to be more successful with both higher quality, and reaching over saturated customers. But that means you just have to step up your game to be successful.
Finally, my proposal, let’s detail the factors that go into making the content marketing economic model, and determine if there are some factors where wider knowledge of content marketing practices doesn’t matter, such as suggest with relationship building.
The financial chart is from from Mark Perry's blog