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 the coming year.

All of the interest and investment in this new discipline is based on the idea that your organization 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’re dismissing providers that aren’t helpful and are ignoring companies that are all hard sell or just plain boring.

The promise and reality of Content Marketing.

So, if you buy into the Content Marketing premise, it goes something like this:

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Your organization is now in the content businesses.

As a result, you need to become a supplier of education, insights, and tools that prospects + customers will find relevant and valuable in helping them research, choose, and use your solution.

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:

  1. | How exactly does a company move from becoming just a promoter of their stuff to a provider of helpful insights?
  2. | How does a brand become a continuous publisher of content without hiring a team of former mass media journalists?
  3. | How does an organization sustain a long term effort like this?
  4. | What technology, tools and skills are essential to succeed?

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 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 competitor.

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 heavy contributors
  • | 9% participate as occasional contributors
  • | 90% are lurkers whose net contribution to output = zero.

Interestingly, these numbers line up with the well known 80-20 rule called 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 hard reality of change.

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 behavioral characteristics outlined above?
  • | Organically grow the number of content creators with voluntary participation?
  • | Pretend that every employee will suddenly become part of the 1%?
  • | Pray that they’ll be able to actually tell engaging stories?
  • | Hope everyone shares consistently to encourage prospects + customers to join in?

Good luck with that.

It’s time to align the promise of Content Marketing with the realities of your business goals.

Only those with proven methodologies and resources that are fluent and knowledgeable with storytelling 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?
Will this new method of marketing live up to the hype? Or it a vision full of peril?

Will you just outsource the whole endeavor? Or will you give it a go yourself to see if it delivers any business value?

Ready to improve your online marketing game?

To learn more about how a strategic, integrated approach to Content Marketing can make a difference for your organization, contact us online or just give us a call at 415.789.5830.


2 thoughts on “The ONE percent reality of Content Marketing.

  1. 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.

  2. 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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