Content marketers – myself included – seem to have a serious case of FOMO. We’re constantly questioning the work we’re doing: Are we creating enough content? Is it cool enough? Should we be making more?
Take a look and see if this conversation sounds familiar:
CMO recently back from trade show: “Hey, looks like Company X made this cool scratch-and- sniff infographic – why aren’t we doing stuff like this?”
Content marketer: “Oh, um, yeah, of course… we’ll get on that! I mean, I’m sure we can find time to squeeze that in between the 14 whitepapers, 27 blog posts and that ROI calculator we’re doing this quarter.”
CMO: “Great. Would love to see a draft next week.”
FOMO and the drive to innovate
Content marketing seems to be trapped in a tiring cycle of endless new content creation, coupled with chasing flashy new trends and techniques. We’re constantly being asked to think outside the box and churn out concepts that will engage our audiences. The resulting stream of new ideas makes us (and our bosses) feel like we’re being truly innovative.
But what if we’ve got it wrong? What if the term “content marketing” doesn’t mean creating new content all the time?
It was a message I heard loud and clear multiple times at this year’s Content Marketing World. Content marketing has hit a sort of tipping point. We’ve figured out how to make lots of great content, but we’re not being smart about making the best use of it. Instead, we keep creating more.
Starving the content beast
I was lucky enough to sit in on Kristina Halvorson’s session Content strategy: Clarity, constraints and common sense where she talked about a radical idea: Maybe instead of emphasizing the creation of net new content as the cornerstone of our strategies, we need to take a step back and evaluate what we’re doing, focus on what’s working and build on it.
While reusing and repurposing content is not itself a novel concept, making it a pillar of content strategy and actually following through with that restraint is. Halvorson shared a telling example from Allstate—their team isn’t just paying lip service to the idea of better use of content. In a slide taken straight from the company’s 2016 content marketing strategy deck, one of the key elements of its approach is to “maximize the performance of existing content.” Not to create dozens of new pieces to put in the hands of sales reps. Not to increase the volume and cadence of thought leadership content. But to make what already exists even better. It’s right there in the corporate strategy, documented in black and white. I can totally relate to Halvorson’s reaction: “I almost cried tears of joy.” Instead of constantly trying to reinvent the wheel, Allstate is taking a moment to stop, evaluate what it already has and build on strengths.
The power of standing still
Think of all the time you spend in brainstorms, or better still, “ideation sessions.” We’re constantly being asked for new ideas, to come up with the next big thing, to feed the insatiable content beast that, frankly, we only have ourselves to blame for creating. Maybe it’s time content marketers stop and smell the proverbial roses. It’s not sexy, it’s not flashy, but it’s smart. Going back to the basics, focusing on a small number of things versus everything, improving upon what’s working and discarding those ideas that aren’t. It’s not complicated, but don’t confuse that with being easy. Protecting against the false urgency to do more, to create more is definitely not easy, but it’s certainly necessary.
Maybe the next chapter of content marketing is about slowing down. Let’s pause, take stock and make sense of what we’ve created. Taking that moment to stop lets us think clearly and carefully about what we’re doing and refocus ourselves on creating only good, thoughtful content intended for who we’re really working for in the end: our customer.
Ready to stop spinning the content wheel and make better use of your existing content?