A few weeks ago, Mark Schaefer lit the content marketing world on fire with his blog post here describing “Content Shock,” or the all-but-inevitable diminishing return on content investment. There’s only so much time in the day to consume content, and the amount of content in the world is about to exceed our ability to consume it. Moreover, to compete in this content-saturated world, you’re going to have to spend more and more money to compete for eyeballs.
Rather than focusing on the negative, though, Schaefer gave his first presentation on “Content Shock” at SXSW 2014, which described what you can do to prepare for it. As Schaefer illustrated in his presentation, a diminishing return is nothing new. We’ve seen it happen before with your brochure website that had to become more search friendly. And we’ve more recently seen search engine marketing and optimization returns diminish in favor of social and content.
Now that we have little choice but to advertise content and social media updates in order to gain visibility in the crowded streams of even our most ardent fans, we can already see the writing on the wall.
Is that to say content marketing is over? We still have websites, and we still spend billions on search engine marketing and optimization every year. So the answer is an obvious “No.” But how do we maximize our content investment and start combating content shock immediately? Here are just three ideas:
Step 1: Target, Target, Target
On average, Kuno Creative clients spend roughly $1,000 per month on social advertising. The reality is that, especially on Facebook, it’s the only way to break through the social noise. As Schaefer pointed out, the deep pockets tend to win here.
But the more you target your sponsored updates and promoted posts, the less it will cost. In the B2B world, you’re likely to know:
- Titles of decision makers
- Types of companies (maybe even the actual company name)
- Groups and organizations customers Like on Facebook or participate in on LinkedIn
If you can create a targeted campaign that cross references those things, then you can quickly drive down the cost per lead. While you may not be getting as much traffic or as many leads as you would from a broad campaign, the leads are better…and sometimes even less expensive.
Step 2: Promote People, Not Products
Are you still keeping your employees away from your customers? Time for a change.
Many companies don’t let their employees become public-facing contributors to content and social media. It may be concern over having them poached by a competitor or simply fear that the employee may say something offensive or out of turn.
There’s always someone who thinks it’s safer to do nothing than take on a little risk. For example, in training and professional development, there’s this:
CFO asks CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?”
CEO responds, “What happens if we don't, and they stay?”
For content today, it might go something like this:
CTO asks CMO, “What happens if we allow our team members to use company time on content rather than their actual jobs?:
CMO responds, “What happens to their jobs if we don’t?”
The key in B2B marketing going forward will be to “be more human,” as Schaefer said, quoting Dr. Robert Cialdini. Without a human connection, all the educational content in the world isn’t going to change hearts and minds. It isn’t going to attract people to your brand.
To avoid content shock, your brand should be your people. And those allowing those people to thrive as experts and thought leaders, or even hiring with content skills in mind no matter the position, will be more powerful than the coolest product feature.
Step 3: Plan to Market Everywhere
Schaefer pointed out two important things in his presentation:
- The people who were first to adopt the newest technology and strategies where often the winners.
- The next phase in marketing will involve augmented reality, wearables like Google Glass and privacy/noise filters.
For marketers, that means early adopting now, or even just early awareness, could be what makes your brand successful after “Content Shock” hits. Because, according to Schaefer, these new technologies will allow us to market not just at the computer or on a device, but all around us.
In order to get around the increasing use of content and privacy filtering technology, it will be important to engage customers at their level. From my perspective, you can do any of three things: entertain, enlighten or empower.
This is always easier said than done, but Schaefer notes that you can’t just plan to make “epic shit” if you want to survive content shock. Instead of creating quality content, marketers need to focus on creating quality experiences. And experience starts and ends with all the people involved in it—your customers, your company’s employees and yourself.
How do you plan to survive content shock? Share your strategy in the comments!
Photo Credit: CarbonNYC