Early last month popular marketing consultant Mark W. Schaefer penned a blog post on his website titled, “Content shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy”. In short, Schaefer argues that content marketing as a marketing strategy is on a trajectory towards failure for brands. While Schaefer puts across some interesting arguments his thesis could not be further from the truth.
In essence, his argument is that the rapidly growing supply of free content is far exceeding the rate of demand for content, and at the end of the day this is going to create an expensive and never-ending content arms race for brands. I say this just further amplifies the need to create high-quality, relevant and comprehensive content. The demand will always be there. Just like in any other industry, it’s your job to convince the reader that you provide the best value versus your competitors.
Supply & Demand
Throughout history the supply of information has always been more than people could actually consume. The content space has always been crowded: There has never been enough caves, carrier pigeons, newspapers, books, libraries, radio and TV stations, and now websites, social media and apps to tell stories and store information.
As history has shown us and continues to show us it’s the tools, platforms and tactics which have changed; information and content has always been plentiful.
It only becomes harder and more crowded when we refuse to play in different playgrounds. Swimming pools can get crowded. So swim at different times, find another pool, or find another way to exercise. Similarly, professional content marketers need to experiment with various platforms and content types. Audiences change as do their tastes in content. Content marketers need to adapt too.
Niche Platforms, Niche Content
When we see content online as a whole we can’t help but be overwhelmed. However, consumers don’t open up a web browser or look at the App Store and bemoan the over saturation of content. We search. Specifically, we search for what we want. We might search on a browser, in an application store, or even on a device.
If we take a look at the internet as a whole rather than niche platforms and topics, then yes, we will believe that the content marketing model is falling apart. But when we look at things through the prism of a user then it is not.
People don’t only search the web anymore. They also use apps. They listen to podcasts, watch exclusive online shows, subscribe to YouTube channels, search Pinterest and talk to Siri while taking pictures with their Google Glass as they read emails via their Pebble Watch.
Content changes, dies, and becomes born again. Content might live forever – however we can never access all of it. We only access what we want. Supply has always been huge. And forever will be. Yet, that’s not the point. The goal was never to consume everything in the world.
The goal was to consume entertainment and knowledge. So the goal for the content marketer is to produce content that is entertaining, insightful and helps the consumer understand more of what they want.
The Goal of Content Marketing
The goal of content marketing is to provide value and take care of your customer.
“I know that you are under a barrage of distractions from increasingly amazing content” – Mark Schaefer
Consumers aren’t “distracted” by increasingly amazing content. Their attention shifts when the content they were consuming becomes less informative, predictable and entertaining. Then they go looking for better content. Think about your own habits. There are blogs, apps, podcasts, newspapers you may read and consume today that you didn’t before. Your consumption levels haven’t increased by 2 hours per day. They have changed.
Maybe you’ve replaced where you access your content from: Audio books instead of books; Pulse Reader instead of newspapers; Netflix instead of HBO.
Content marketing is not dead. Far from it. No doubt about it, it has changed. And it will continue to do so. So in order to succeed in the ever increasingly competitive content landscape brands and advertisers must understand the old adage: If you don’t take care of your customer someone else will.