People Need Content

My friend Mark Schaefer wrote a compelling post last week about Content Shock. The ensuing conversation revolved around whether or not the content marketing movement will collapse. The most important sentence in Mark’s post (IMO) was, “Content marketing is not over.” That’s because people need content.

No matter how you slice and dice it, people still want information about other people, places and things. One way of finding information becomes too noisy, they seek another.

Some of the economics in Mark’s post were fantastic, but the overall gist was great content wins. Bad and mediocre corporate content is losing, and it is losing faster due to a competitive arms race.

Frankly, many marketers are producing bad content, and they shouldn’t succeed. And prior to the content marketing boom, marketers produced other shoddy forms of communications. So if that’s the collapse, so be it.

More content creates a premium on well presented information. It also highlights the importance of a balanced strategy including but not defined by the trend. The best competitors stand out. The rest fail.

And when marketers fail, they will seek a different way to develop customer relationships. Social media isn’t scalable? No one likes our blog? OK! Let’s try sponsored content.

Change the Rules


I agree with notion that in spite of big companies, niche and differentiated content will find ways to win. Yet, in last week’s conversations I saw assumptions that those brands with frequency, the most sizzle, the best personalities, and overall distribution strengths will win. While these are assets that big companies can purchase, it’s only to win a digital content arms race defined by bloggers.

What happens when someone changes the rules?

Let’s face it, someone (or Google)


changes the rules.

It’s not about shooting more. Instead, change the game. To use a Seth Godin saying, instead of trying to out-moo every other brown cow, become a purple one. Do something that completely differentiates your efforts.

As an event creator, I love it. Blog posts are easy. Quality events are hard.

The increasing glut of digital information makes quality events more important. Why? People rely on their peers and live real-time buzz more than ever. An event is a primary driver of large word of mouth moments, dynamic personal interaction, and yes, great content.

The need for live real-time entertainment and events is driving outlandish broadcast contracts for sports teams and leagues. Sporting events are one of the few live events that people pay attention to in the moment. Disagree? How many of your friends were glued to the TV or compulsively checked scores on their smartphones during the NFL Playoffs?

By the way, PriceWaterhouseCoopers predicted the media rights boom in 2011, when they said, “…sports viewing is proving virtually immune to time-shifting. In the key 18-49 demographic, live programmes dominate the ratings, and sports are well represented in the top-rated live programmes.”

When a tactic becomes overplayed, to win you must either excel or change the rules. If you play the same game, you will be held to the same dynamics and consequences as everyone else.

Cut against the grain. Create different methods and ways to give people the information they want. Or you could just keep publishing blogs (and possibly perish).

What do you think?

Featured Image by Visit Abu Dhabi. Brown cow by Mimadeo.


  • Yes agree totally Geoff however in many efforts I see, a try in differentiation it’s just a repurposed other tactic. In other words it still sucks! Talent is around and the quest to be at the top is difficult but attainable and then maintaining, even more difficult.

  • Geoff-

    The media companies love to repeat the mantra “content is king” and while I agree I think this misses the most important secular trend of our age which is the democriization of content creation.

    Let’s not even get into the long tail of home enthusiasts. We can just take the pros — in a media universe constrained by a few channels of access only a small percentage of trained and qualified professionals willl be working at any given time.

    But the Internet gives everyone with an idea a way to find an audience.

    • Yes, that was what I meant by referring to Shel Holtz’s post on niche and differentiated content. The more specific, the less likely mass content creators are too address it. Good point!

  • Brilliant addition to the conversation. Many thanks!

  • I like purple ;) Cheers! Kaarina

  • I think Mark’s post has gotten a flood of attention, so no matter what anybody thinks, Mark wins. :-)

  • I think everyone has the freedom to express himself in a way he feels it’s right. There are some new social networks, such as Duvamis, where everyone can publish articles or news, that are to be published the way they were created. No modifications and quality assessment…isn’t that great. I’m really tired to put up with someone else’s standards.

    • The bottom line on any outcome is a merciless judge who has no defining judgment characteristic other than success or fail. The application of metrics is the ultimate judge of any marketer. Marketers who value freedom above performance will have a hard time of it in this world where data drives everything.

      • That’s definitely true in our presence. Only, I believe that in the future, the perception and measures of performance success will be different.

  • Go Broncos!!

    Agree with the post here. Since I represent social media monitoring, I am doing a decent amount of social media 101 as my content (using sports analogies, of course). However, I think our real opportunity comes with the OTHER content we can create – around business intelligence, software development, etc. We still have a chance to be that purple cow because very few other solution providers are generating that type of content (most of it still lives in white papers or forum responses).

    • I agree the content that’s built off of intelligence, etc. will stand well above the rest. And even if people have the capability, most won’t realize it. Too lazy!

      Congratulations again on the Broncos!

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  • I was looking at the phrase “content marketing” as a joke. I see proper grammar reading it as “the marketing of content” as “content” is not an adjective. (same true for anything “xxx marketing” IMHO)

    Then I realized that I was looking at the wrong thing. There’s a fad (with budgets) for content marketing, so why not use that as an starting point to discuss marketing and business.

    I’ve been producing content my entire career. TV and radio show, newsletters, informational mailings, articles, events, seminars and blogs and whatever the fad “social media marketing” means. To me, the only difference is that brands can buy commodity content or quality and “content marketing” opens that discussion.

    Which brought me to this epiphany. Anything that adds value to the commodity that we sell is content. You can serve up a plain brown wrapper or a pretty bow on any product or service. If you choose to package your business as a commodity, you’ll get paid for the commodity. If you add value (“content”) then you’ll make the experience richer for the buyer and he’ll gladly pay for it.

    There’s no silo here. Anything that makes the buying cycle a better experience better is content marketing :)

  • I like the metaphor of the purple cow. Do you think it can be as simple has coming at something from an entirely new angle?

    I must say, even though it sounds simple on paper, if you’re really pushing boundaries, it brings up a lot of questions…”Will anyone like this?” “Will it hurt my professional image?” etc.

    Then again, I supposed in the fast-moving world of content development, if one thing doesn’t work, you can always try another.

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