In the beginning, there was marketing. Then content marketing. Now meet a new member of the family: slow content marketing.
Of course, content marketing wasn’t called that, back when:
• Ben Franklin wrote Poor Richard’s Almanac
• John Deere launched The Furrow
• Michelin created The Michelin Guide
• The Guinness brewery dreamed up the Guinness Book of World Records.
Understanding the origins of content marketing helps us understand what’s happening today, as you see in this Content Marketing Institute (CMI) infographic.
Over the past decade, content marketing has made its name, thanks to Joe Pulizzi, the CMI and thought leaders in marketing,
Today content marketing is really taking off: 3 out of 4 consumer marketers and 9 out of 10 B2B marketers are practicing content marketing, the CMI/Marketing Profs study found.
Content Marketing World (CMW) draws thousands of marketers to Cleveland from all around the world. Content proliferates everywhere.
More and more content
But marketers are placing too much emphasis on producing more and more content, faster and faster.
More than 3,800 content marketing tools are for sale today. Most of them promise to help you go faster and faster so you can get more done.
We probably have too many ideas. Maybe the future of content is about slowing down and thinking clearly,”
– Susan Halvorsen
Marketers want analytics to be faster, even in real time. People are speeding up production with automation, robot writers and designers.
The quality of content from many companies is going down, as Ann Handley observes.
Marketing is impatient. Everything we do feels like we need to do it faster.”
– Ann Handley
Is faster and faster the way to go?
The real question is, does faster and faster address the problem marketers face today? No. Because it doesn’t address buyers’ problems.
What buyers need is not content that’s fast but content that really addresses their needs and solve their problems. Great content answers buyers’ real questions and thereby moves them through the buying journey.
What buyers don’t need is more and more content, hastily produced and just as hastily forgotten.
How much content do you need to produce? Produce the minimum amount of content to produce the maximum results.”
– Robert Rose
Coping with Content Overload
The world has passed the point of Content Overload or Content Shock, as Mark Schaefer calls it. Marketers are producing more content than buyers could ever possibly consume, as you see here.
As a result, more than half of the content produced never earns the authority that comes from a backlink, Andy Crestodina notes. Why make content that doesn’t add authority?
What’s missing from content marketing
Often, declining content usage points to a strategic gap. If your company is struggling to make content marketing successful, one or more of 7 essential, strategic ingredients for content marketing may be missing:
• A written editorial mission statement
• A written content marketing strategy
• A competitive content audit
• Useful buyer persona insights
• A concise, consistent story and Message Map
• Content mapped to the buyer’s journey
• Analytics to guide content forward.
If one of these essential ingredients is missing from your content marketing, producing more and more content just won’t fix the problem. (By the way, I cover these 7 ingredients in my content marketing workshop in New York City on Oct. 27.)
Fast content or slow content?
At CMW this year, I Tweeted more than 200 times, landing me among the top 10 Tweeters.
I admit: I love Twitter because it’s the ultimate headline-writing contest, the ultimate fast food of content. Here’s a collection of the best Tweets from CMW 2016.
Yet it took me a few weeks to reflect, think and boil down everything I heard at CMW to its essence. That’s a slow process.
For the first time in 4 years of attending CMW, I heard thought leaders use the rarest of words in marketing: “slow.”
Content marketing is a slow game.”
– Rand Fishkin
“A slow merge is coming between PR and marketing. Integrated marketing communications are growing.”
– Lee Odden
“Wait, what? is an important strategic question for content marketing.”
– Ann Handley
Ann’s question Wait, what? may well be the best guide to a brighter future in content marketing. It leads us to consider slow content marketing.
How can we grow better at content marketing by slowing down and thinking through our strategy, our audiences, the useful content they need, and how best to deliver it to them?
Show your audiences love with slow content
Sometimes I like my Twitter, fast content and even fast food. But always, I appreciate slow food.
Why? I love that which is artisanal — planted and grown by hand, raised locally and organically, lovingly and artfully made into a sumptuous meal worth lingering over. Presented in a way you’ll remember.
Like slow food, slow content is about taking a divergent path, following a different drummer, getting to a different result.
Good marketers follow best practices. Great marketers craft their own. They do the unthinkable.”
– Jay Acunzo
It makes me wonder: Can’t we create artisanal, slow content marketing that shows our buyers as much love as slow food does?
How big could we win with smart, strategic, slow content marketing?
As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.