Is Content Marketing No Longer Effective?

For the past few years, marketers have extolled the benefits of content marketing. And, for good reason.

Thanks to the internet, businesses have the opportunity to talk directly to customers by publishing their own content instead of having to rely on a third party (such as a publication or media channel) to do so.

Because businesses have seen such success with content marketing, it has become the go-to tactic in the marketer’s toolkit.

As a result, now we’re in a place where content marketing has reached mass adoption, which makes it that much harder to stand out above the noise.

 

The content arms race

As many of my friends and colleagues have noted, we’ve now entered a veritable content arms race – whoever can produce the most (and best) content wins.

But, does that mean content marketing is no longer viable – especially for small-to-medium businesses?

Hardly.

It just means that we need to determine the best strategy that makes sense for our businesses.

Even though we as marketers talk about how to leverage content day in and day out, there are still plenty of industries and businesses that are slow to adopt this kind of approach.

For instance, while developing a marketing strategy for a client, I discovered that not ONE of the company’s competitors is producing any kind of digital content. One company did have a blog on their website, but there wasn’t a single blog post on it.

This says a couple of things – it could be that no one is blogging or producing content because it’s not an effective approach OR it may mean that this is a ripe opportunity for my client to dominate his local market by becoming the go-to resource for his industry.

What does all this mean?

For us, as marketers and business owners, we need to be careful about always leaning on content as the tactic du jour.

Sometimes, content marketing makes complete sense – especially in markets or industries where competitors aren’t doing it or where their content isn’t nearly up to snuff. While other times, it will be a futile effort to get heard above all of the noise – especially if the company is not prepared to spend the time or money to make it successful.

The trick is to find the places where your competitors are not. And, spend some time determining the best way to connect with your clients and prospects. You might find there are better alternatives that make more sense for your business.

Getting heard above the noise

But, if you decide that to pursue content marketing, how do you stand out?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Create an experience. As Geoff Livingston pointed out last week, the best content marketing is an extension of the overall the customer experience. If your product or service sucks, you’ll have a tough time promoting your company through compelling content. Start with creating amazing experiences for your customers and your content efforts will be that much stronger.
  • Look for unique channels. When you consider developing a content marketing strategy, you must conduct research to discover where your competitors are not. Although it may be easiest to develop a blog, perhaps there are channels that will be more effective (and the competition is less fierce), such as podcasts, videos, photos, music, whitepapers, etc.
  • Get creative. Content that spread does a great job of educating or entertaining. Look for ways you can share your information differently and it will help you stand out. Maybe it’s cartoons. Maybe it’s videos. Or graphics. Or, perhaps it’s your writing style or how you explain the information. Whatever you do, dare to be different.

Content marketing is not dead. But, the competition is definitely getting fiercer and the game continues to change.

That’s why you must continue to innovate and explore new opportunities to connect with your target market. Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting time on an effort that will get you nowhere.

What do you think? Is content marketing still viable? Or, is it time to abandon this approach for something else?

Image credit: Tim Letscher

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  • http://www.ltc-associates.com/ LTCA INC

    Excellent point, Laura, about competing on the playing fields where your competitors are NOT.

    I took the opportunity to browse the links you served– great background and discussions there! One of them used an example of a dentist who quickly dominated Google Search rankings through the use of clever video marketing. A commenter by the name of Ryan Hanley summed up how other competitors could possibly make inroads (and it’s apropos here):

    “This guy did video right?

    So you have to do Infographic/Podcast/Slideshare… Something different to infiltrate the gaps.”

    Cheers,
    Stephen

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      So glad you enjoyed the links – all of them point to friends and colleagues I respect a great deal. And you’re right – there’s a ton of great discussion and that’s exactly what prompted this post. Content marketing isn’t dead, but you’ve got to differentiate yourself!

      Thanks, as always, for your insight, Stephen!

  • geofflivingston

    You know, the unique channels aspect is really an undertold one. We have so much focus on the big channels that I think people forget the power of the niche. It’s a great way to differentiate!

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      So true. Many businesses want to have space on the usual channels because “that’s where everyone else is”. When, in reality, we need to do the opposite. Thanks for the great inspiration with your post and for weighing in. Really appreciate it!

  • http://www.craigmcbreen.com/ Craig McBreen

    Hi Laura,

    Great points here. I recently convinced a client that a quality whitepaper was the way to go for now, along with a detailed Q&A. In the meantime we are working on creating a unique voice and figuring out a strategy for the blog. It’s an incremental process, and also one that takes plenty of convincing … Funny, some people are saying content marketing is dead, but the truth is, most clients I work with are very apprehensive because they’ve never even heard the term ;)

    Thanks!

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      You’re right, Craig – this often requires baby steps instead of telling the business to jump in head first. But, you make a good point about the vernacular. I think if @margieclayman had her way, we’d stop calling it content marketing! Maybe it’s time for new terminology!

  • http://twitter.com/arodriguez3310 Anthony Rodriguez

    Great post Laura.

    Trust is also a very important element in content marketing. People must believe they are getting reliable information they can use to make decisions in their lives, and content marketing is a great way to do that.

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      So true, Anthony. Blogging is a great way to build a rapport with your audience and prove that you know what the heck you’re talking about.

      Thanks for stopping by and weighing in!

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