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The ONE percent reality of Content Marketing.

December 19th, 2012  |  Published in Brand, Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing  |  2 Comments

Content Marketing's One Percent

So who’s doing all the content creation?

Content Marketing is all the buzz. In fact, it’s the area that Econsultancy projects to have the fastest growth of all marketing activities in 2013.

All of the interest and investment in this new discipline is based on the idea that your company is no longer in the business of just making and selling products or services.

It’s the result of buyers becoming much more discerning and educating themselves about products and services before they actually buy.

More than ever, people turn to the Internet and their social networks to find answers and solutions to their challenges or problems. They are dismissing providers that aren’t helpful and are ignoring companies that are all hard sell or just plain boring.

The promise and attraction of new.

So, if you buy into the Content Marketing premise, it goes something like this: Your company is now in the content businesses and needs to become a supplier of education, insights and tools that prospects and customers will find relevant and valuable in helping them research, choose and use products and services.

Sounds kinda cool, right?
But there are a lot of critical questions that are easy to gloss over in the march to this new marketing nirvana. For example, how exactly does a company move from becoming a just a promoter of their stuff to a provider of helpful insights? And how does a brand become a continuous publisher of content without hiring a team of former mass media journalists?

The significant transformation to become a publisher is a huge challenge for just about any businesses—especially B2B companies. Because in those kinds of organizations, the attitude prevails that products and solutions are so complex and sales cycles are so long that the majority of time and effort is focused on explaining why their solution is better than a competitors. Not much bandwidth  is left over content marketing—or on the job training on how to figure out how to actually get it done.

All content creation is not equal.

Before you embark on attempting to transform your organization into a content factory, a widely recognized formula that defines who usually creates most content (and most innovation) might be worth considering. Wikipedia defines it as the 1% rule of internet culture: the 1-9-90 principle.

As the formula discloses, groups within an organization can usually be classified by their expected participation in content creation. They look something like this:
• 1% are usually heavy contributors
• 9% participate as occasional contributors
• The other 90% end up as just lurkers whose net contribution to output is exactly zero.

Interestingly, these numbers line up with the well known 80-20 rule (the Pareto Principle). 80% of just about anything, including content, is usually created by 20% or less of a group.

Given these typical characteristics, is it realistic to expect significant and continuous contributions from your team if it’s a voluntary requirement? Will it just become another thing to do in addition to their current responsibilities and obligations? It’s time to get real because chances are a few will do some heavy lifting but the majority will simply read or watch what others produce.

The peril and hard reality.

If it’s true that content marketing is now the emerging way for companies to get and keep customers, they may no longer have a choice to just sit back and be content consumers in their industry. Whatever classification your business falls into, decisions, methods and resources may now have to be allocated to either become a content creator, curator and distributor. If not, an organization runs the risk of being eclipsed by competitors.

So how are exactly will you do this? Buck the well documented behavioral characteristics outlined above and organically grow the number of content creators with voluntary participation? Pretend that every employee will suddenly become part of the 1% and do this because it’s the new thing? And do you pray that they will able to actually tell engaging stories, share them consistently and then encourage your prospects and customers to join in?

Good luck with that.
It’s time to get real and align the promise of Content Marketing with the realities of your business goals. For only those with proven methodologies and resources that are fluent and knowledgeable with story telling and how to turn content creation and distribution into business value are going to be able to deliver on the promise of Content Marketing.

Time to share.

What do you think? Does the promise in this new method of marketing live up to the expectations or hype? Or it a vision full of peril?  Will you just outsource the whole enchilada and see if it delivers any business value? Share your thoughts.


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  • http://twitter.com/inboundsquad InboundMarketinSquad

    Great article Paul! All excellent points! The tendency is to be overly optimistic and assume that writing content is no big deal and employees can fit it in along with all the other things they do. 

    Sure they can. After all, anybody can write, or talk, or make a video with their built-in webcam and post it to YouTube. Right?But can they do more than provide mundane information? Can they capture someone’s attention? Provide that info in such a way that the reader/viewer/listener is entranced, delighted, inspired, excited and aching to act on what they’ve read/watched/heard? IMHO and from experience, I doubt it.Being able to communicate information effectively is a hard-earned skill requiring lots of practice, a dash of art and above all, dedication. And keeping the content engine fed, as you so aptly pointed out here and in your other posts on this topic, takes allocating dedicated resources to people who are skilled at this and can get the job done. Which is a hard and bitter pill for businesses to swallow.But if they don’t swallow it, Google won’t find them. And if Google can’t find them — no one will.

  • http://teamworkscom.com Paul Pruneau

    Your comments are right on!

    And here’s the deal: the Content Marketing hype is way ahead of market reality. 

    Transforming a business, especially a marketing department, into a skilled and effective content creation machine that is actually delivering value to a business is way beyond the competencies of most marketing organizations or managers. 

    Sooner or later decision makers will recognize that they have to step up, and probably out, to realize the promise of Content Marketing.

    And that bodes well for experts like you.

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Paul Pruneau, and Teamworks Communications, Inc., develop communications and brand strategy, engineer content to express customer value, and create integrated online and Content Marketing solutions to help businesses succeed. Follow Paul on Twitter, connect on Google+, send an email or just call 415.789.5830.

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