The new F word of content

In Ideas by Peter Gearin

The old marketing formula was ‘more content = greater success’. According to the experts at Content Marketing World 16, that’s no longer the case.

When marketers once thought about adopting a content strategy, frequency was top of mind. That’s because they thought that it was important to get as many messages out into the market, on as many platforms, in as many forms as possible. It would be the only way to ensure that each piece of content got the respect it deserved. Right?

And if frequency wasn’t the only motivation, it was trying to find ways to get content for free. They would grab staff who could write or rely on blogs from the CEO or their subject-matter experts. It wouldn’t really matter if it was good or part of any wider plan. But as content marketing was “cheaper” than any other type of marketing or advertising, they would be winning as long as they could get their material out there often. That’s because it cost them almost nothing.

“Free content published frequently” … that’s the A plan. Or so they were led to believe.

There is another F word that is gaining traction in content marketing circles. It’s a word that came up often in different forms during presentations at Content Marketing World 2016 in Cleveland in September. Not surprisingly, it is now seen as the best way for all businesses, especially those operating in the B2B arena, to get the best out of their content.

That F word is focus. Do what you do best, be the best at it and put it in a place where your audience wants it. Focused content offers marketers a better chance of success.

“The lost art of focus is of an epidemic proportion in modern-day life.”Scott Stratten

Scott Stratten, co-host of the UnPodcast show and author of UnMarketing and UnSelling, is a big fan of old-fashioned focus. In his presentation at CMW16, Stratten said that modern marketers have much less time than ever to plan or schedule their marketing efforts. “We actually have less time these days when you throw in real-time marketing, and you have to react to everything,” he said. “You can’t strategise content when you’re jumping every single day to a new platform or a new thing or a new strategy.

“The lost art of focus is of an epidemic proportion in modern-day life. We never put a plan together any more. We say, ‘what should we try now so we don’t look like we’re behind?’”

Stratten said that it’s just not wise for businesses to be everywhere all the time, even if they have the tools and capabilities. “The skill of marketing isn’t ‘what can we do?’” he said. “The skill of marketing is thinking what we should do and running for it and seeing it through and doing it well. [It’s about] matching our skill-sets, our resources and our manpower with what our audience needs or wants to know.”

Ultimately, Stratten said, creating a successful content strategy comes down to answering one question: “How do we create content in the most professional way that will resonate will our audience?”

He used the example of brands moving their content from one social media channel to the next. “What you’re showing is that you’re scattered. What I want us to focus on is being better at 2003. I want our websites to be viewed on a phone, properly. We need to send better emails to our audience, we need to create better blog posts and have a better site [for the audience that has] a path of least resistance.”

Ann Handley, head of content at US marketing education company MarketingProfs and author of Everybody Writes, spoke about a concept called “slow marketing”. “I do think there is such a thing as a ‘bad slow’ in marketing but I also think there is a desperate and critical need for a ‘good slow’,” she said. “The key is knowing when to apply it and where. The key isn’t slowing down, we all move too fast for that. The key is to slow down at the right moments.”

Handley cited the latest US research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. It showed that while 71 per cent of marketers are looking to build long-term content marketing programs, just 29 per cent are always focused on creating content that their audience will love.

“That’s a problem,” Handley said. “Slowing down long enough to ask [if the content is audience focused] will deliver results long term.”

Links & references

Scott Stratten’s UnPodcast website

MarketingProfs website

Please share