Content marketing: playing to win vs. playing not to lose

Content marketing - Playing to win
Are you taking risks and playing to win at content marketing?

When it comes to content marketing, are you playing to win? Or playing not to lose?

Many marketers get caught up in an internal debate: whether to take new risks with their content or to maintain the status quo.

Does this debate sound familiar?

Maybe you hear it inside your company. I definitely hear it in my content marketing workshops.

If your company is struggling to effect content marketing changes, the problem may not be the people on the other side of the argument — it’s the status quo.

Some think that sticking with the status quo is a risk-free approach. In fact, the status quo may be the riskiest choice of all.

People hate to change the status quo for many reasons. It may:

  • Lead to looking at needs and opportunities in a new way.
  • Require acknowledging and thinking through tough, previously unrecognized problems.
  • Trigger a reallocation of resources — time or money.
  • Reduce an individual’s control over some aspect of marketing.
  • Create uncertainty about roles and responsibilities.
  • Demand organization changes such as a new content editor or team.
  • Require people to learn new skills as they’re doing their jobs.

But, sticking with the status quo may prevent the changes you need to keep your content competitive. “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for,” as John Shedd observed.

If your culture prefers the status quo, it may take a crisis to effect change.

A crisis forces everyone out of their comfort zones, through scenarios of:

  • Declining revenues and profits.
  • Lost customers.
  • A threat to downsize or eliminate the marketing department.

Having lived through all these crises as a corporate marketer, I learned to ask myself:

Imagine you just got fired. If you were your own successor, starting with a fresh slate, which risks would you take?

Why wouldn’t you take those same risks right now? In other words:

What if you played to win?

Imagining you’ve been fired can help you do one of the toughest things in marketing: get comfortable with being uncomfortable, as Steve Liguori says.

To reach your full potential in content marketing, get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Let’s face it. Most people like things just the way they are. We’re inclined to be perfectly happy with the status quo. Even when it doesn’t exactly work.

By following the status quo, we play not to lose. Instead of playing to win.

Why do people settle for the status quo?

Because they know how the game is played under the existing rules. They’d rather not have to learn a new set of rules, or God forbid, ever-changing sets of rules.

Since the rules of marketing are always changing, we need to learn again and again and again.

Some marketers would rather increase the speed and output of content than think deeply about the big questions:

How do you keep customers coming back? Understand the buying journey, map content to it.

What’s the one piece of content you could create to that achieve a major change with customers?

Yes, it’s easier to churn out more content than to pivot and create one great piece of content.

This is a call to the brave, to you who question the status quo.

I know you’re out there. Because I get the privilege to meet you in my content marketing workshops.

Some marketers see the price of making such changes as just too high. They’re not certain they can get their executives’ or bosses’ support.

Too often, the security of doing the same things we’ve been doing for years and years beats out taking the risk of something that might work — or might not work. So, we cling to the status quo.

Every day, we get to choose — security or risk?

Taking the chance to make great content marketing isn’t natural. It isn’t wired into our human DNA.

Our lizard brain (i.e., the amygdala) is wired to be driven by fear of what might go wrong, to focus on what we might lose.

Of course, that’s no way to find out what we might win, if we play to win. We can’t win by playing it safe.

Buyer personas deliver crucial insights for great content marketing.
Up to 3/4 of the buying process happens before customers call sales. Knowing your customers’ questions enables you to make them smarter.

Make your buyers smarter.

In today’s sea of sameness, where few products or services stand out from competitors, your best opportunity to differentiate your company, to endear your company to customers, to create customers from onlookers, is to make your buyers smarter than anyone else’s.

Listen carefully to buyers’ questions and give them straight-arrow answers. Teach them what to look for in your category. Help them ask the right questions.

Straight answers! Imagine that as the bedrock of all your content marketing in the year ahead. I bet your customers can’t wait for someone to speak the unspoken truths about your industry.

It’s time for candid content.

Go beyond what any customer expects from anyone in your category. Why not?

Webpages with strong opinions are among the most shared and most authoritative on the Internet.

Guinness Book of Records
The first edition of The Guinness Book of Records was a tremendous risk — and immediate best-seller.

In 2017, will you take a chance on making one new piece of content that’s crazy great?

Will you make one gem that changes your brand’s whole relationship with customers?

Can you become the best guide for customers in your industry? Are you ready to become customers guru?

Or will you settle for the status quo?

By delivering content that’s far more valuable than customers ever expected, you could make all the difference in your marketing next year.

Rise to that challenge. You’re ready. Let’s do it.