Content marketers are studying the wrong things.

This is post by Doug Kessler, Creative Director at Velocity – a self confessed content marketing junkie and B2B marketing specialist. Doug will be giving a talk ‘Avoiding Crap...

This is post by Doug Kessler, Creative Director at Velocity – a self confessed content marketing junkie and B2B marketing specialist. Doug will be giving a talk ‘Avoiding Crap – 5 Ways to Succeed at Content Marketing.’ at our upcoming event.

Doug Kessler 2

 I love being a part of the content marketing community because I feel like we’re all on this huge learning curve together, inventing a discipline as we go along.  That’s my idea of fun.

But sometimes I worry that, while we’re all students of this stuff, too many content marketers are studying the wrong things.

Because this most recent incarnation of content marketing (the digital era) is still so new, a lot of marketers are just studying the average, run-of-the-mill content – and replicating it. They’re just getting to grips with what content is and how it’s used, so they study the basics and do the kind of content everybody else is doing.

But here’s the thing: the average, run-of-the-mill content is not the stuff that’s going to work any more. Because as content marketing goes mainstream, it stops conferring advantage.

That feels worth repeating: As content marketing goes mainstream, it stops conferring advantage.

Think about that. When the Internet was new, the first few companies to jump in and build a website were doing something kind of strange. The first, say, bookseller to decide to take their business online gave themselves a massive (or should I say Amazonian) advantage.

Everyone else saw the success of these early adopters and jumped on the bandwagon.  So today, having a website is not an advantage. It’s the price of entry into any market.

Content marketing is going this way now. As the discipline matures and we’re all busy industrialising our content machines, just producing content will not make us run ahead of the field any more. It will just get us to the starting line.

I don’t know about you, but I got into this game to give my clients an advantage – not to get them parity with everyone else in their markets.

So what should we be studying?

We should be studying great content. Home run content. Content that really resonates with its target audience and gets shared and shared again.

And the best lessons aren’t even the ones in your own market (you don’t really want to copy your competitors anyway). The best lessons are anywhere a piece of content has moved you.

It might be a favourite novel. Or a scene from a movie. Or a stand-up routine.

If it made you stop and say, “Wow,” you’re on to something.  Now you’ve got two challenges:

1) Figure out what worked – analyse the hell out of the great content. Figure out what’s so powerful about it.

2) Apply it to your own content – find a way to take the lessons you learned from your favourite content and make your own content more like that.

If it’s a scene from a Tarantino movie, you might want to try a long, manic monologue about an issue in your market.

If it’s a mini life story from the amazing Six Word Memoir project, maybe you try crowdsourcing a whole bunch of six-word responses to a problem.

If it’s the Paths of Flight video from GE Aviation, maybe you go looking for a fantastic demo of your product or service that requires no narration.

Study great.

Bottom line: content marketing is maturing now. Just doing it isn’t enough.

You need to make great content. And that means studying great content, instead of simply replicating the usual stuff.

That’s the kind of thing I’ll be talking about in my session at the SMM13 Conference.

I hope to see you there.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Find Doug and a whole host of excellent speakers at our next event, Social Media Marketing on the 23-24 October in London. Find out more and book here. 

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  1. Scott Valentine Reply

    I’m excited about being on this learning curve too Doug – what an exciting time to be plotting, navigating and adapting this voyage!

    Here’s a challenge for you as per the Six Word Memoir: describe content marketing in just 6!

  2. Justin P Lambert Reply

    I couldn’t agree more. I was just having this conversation with a new client recently as we were discussing content strategy. The game is changing, and it’s a maturing process, so is really a positive thing and online that’s just going to make us better at or jobs.

    1. dougkessler Reply

      Justin — exactly!

  3. dougkessler Reply

    Scott. How about:

    Sharing your expertise to help prospects.

  4. Content Marketing - Review of Recent Articles Reply

    […] Content Marketers are Studying the Wrong Things […]

  5. JemimaG Reply

    Ha! Thanks Doug – very true. And actually the “study greatness” message should be remembered across a whole host of disciplines, not just content marketing 🙂

    1. dougkessler Reply

      Great point, Jemima. Works in life too!