Content Marketing World 2016 – Just Do Nothing

Just one day before I flew to Cleveland for Content Marketing World 2016, I was approached for two content-related quotes, which may (or may not) be used by various journalists as they compile their articles on the “future” of content marketing and what to expect in 2017. I had been thinking about this already, packing for my trip and considering what Joe Pulizzi might share in the opening keynote about this very topic. We weren’t that far apart … but he, of course said it more eloquently. And with better slides. And music.

I told both of the journalists that I thought the biggest change in content marketing next year was going to be a marked reduction in the volume of content being produced. I told one that “…content marketers continue to confuse a full editorial calendar with a well-defined content strategy” and I told the other that companies would scale back on production while they pay  “…closer attention to the buyer, their pains, and their priorities.”

The bottom line being that companies are realizing that building it doesn’t guarantee that anyone will read it. And reading it doesn’t mean they will buy.

Joe shared only one statistic during his keynote, pulled from the annual content marketing benchmarking study that CMI does in conjunction with MarketingProfs every year. Only 20% of the companies surveyed are fully committed to a content marketing approach.

Not coincidentally, these 20% of companies are the ones that are best able to measure the success of their content marketing efforts, and that have the clearest understanding of what content marketing success looks like. So what does this mean? To me, this means that 80% of the companies out there, that are not committed to content marketing are, quite simply, doing it wrong. If your content is not performing, it is not the fault of  “content marketing.” It’s probably because your content stinks. As Joe so eloquently put it during his keynote this morning, “mediocre content will hurt your brand more than doing nothing at all.”

So what makes good content? After all, in B2B we simply don’t all have the incredible crowd-sourced and creative opportunities of a company like Lego — the second keynote speaker, Lars Silberbauer,  of the morning — has. B2B companies would be better off starting with some advice that was shared by the final keynote speaker of the morning, Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media. Statistically speaking, the most downloaded, engaging, effective content offers feature one of two things: strong opinions or original research.

Take a stand on issues that are interesting to your buyers, providing insight into the implications of their problems and what they should be doing about them. And if you can, let them know they are not alone by providing research-based benchmarking information that they can use to either evaluate their own performance or as leverage when they look for help (or budget).

This show is just getting started, so I don’t know what the next few days will bring. But I would not be the least bit surprised to hear much more about quality. About how less can be more, and how a considered, buyer-focused approach producing a lower volume of content will outperform a packed editorial calendar full of fluff every day of the week. As Joe said during his keynote: if you are not committed to creating good content, and if you are going to be satisfied with a large volume of mediocre content?

Just do nothing.

Author: Jason Stewart @jstewart_1 is VP Strategic Content, ANNUITAS