The Marketing Companion

In our latest edition of The Marketing Companion podcast, Tom Webster and I explore a couple of fascinating topics. The first is that marketers seems undeterred by the fact that most corporate content is not working, at least in a measurable way. Various research reveals that content marketing is not seen as effective by a majority of marketers, yet content creation budgets continue to rise dramatically. In our podcast, Tom Webster described content marketing as "an uphill slog" with the value of content "rapidly approaching zero" due to the flood of helpful and quality content that's available. But Tom points out that "Marketers have to do something, and this is that something." Is FOMO -- the fear of missing out -- driving a high level of content creation when the metrics don't seem to pan out? We explore the psychology and economics of this enigma, pointing out:

  • Many marketers have a short-term focus and do things day-to-day hoping that the accumulation of activity means something.
  • Google's impact on declining content value
  • The fact that content marketing takes time. Marketers may be exhibiting patience.
  • Google Analytics does not measure everything that is meaningful. We don't know the slight adjustments in the views of our readers/listeners/viewers with each piece of content.
  • Over time, marketers will spend money on the media that can be measured. There will be a flight to better-quality channels if content marketing cannot be better measured.

The other topic we discuss is courage in marketing, inspired by a talk by Jim Stengel, former CMO of Procter & Gamble. Mark and Tom look at two different examples of courage in marketing:

The new episode of The Marketing Companion is filled with big ideas and I know you'll enjoy it. Resources mentioned in this episode We referenced the creative commercials featuring the character Flo from Progressive. Doug Kessler of Velocity Marketing The post How Google ruined content marketing by Chad Pollitt

Please support our extraordinary sponsors. Our content is free because of their generosity.

Many thanks to our friend Scott Monty for the awesome show intro. Be sure to check out his amazing newsletter The Full Monty and his new podcast available here: fullmontyshow.com,

BuzzSumo is the world’s best way to discover, analyze and amplify your content. Run over to BuzzSumo today for a 14 day free trial. Beyond data, BuzzSumo offers priceless insights into content discovery, monitoring, influencers and outreach, content research and planning, and competitor research. Find out why so many Marketing Companion fans are now hooked on Buzzsumo. Check out BuzzSumo’s powerful technology to look at the hottest content trends down to the hour!

Affinio is now offering a FREE eBook co-authored with Mark Schaefer called How to Identify, Understand and Grow Your Ideal Content Audience. Check it out, as well as their new free audience Discovery tool. Affinio is an advanced marketing intelligence platform that leverages the interest graph to understand today’s consumers. Affinio believes that if we can understand individuals at a deeper and richer level, then we can fundamentally change the way people relate to one another. By understanding the interests and cultural DNA of key audience segments, marketers are empowered to take an audience-first approach to making meaningful connections with ideal consumers. Find out how at Affinio.com.

Direct download: Courageous_marketing.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 1:59pm EST

It's not often that you see a blog post that makes you think, discuss, and maybe even a little sick to your stomach but that's what Steve Rayson of BuzzSumo achieved with his controversial post "The Future is More Content." Steve has put out some thorough, well-developed thought leadership pieces over the years and this post is among his finest because he brings up an ugly topic we choose to ignore -- that swarming the web with content -- maybe even crappy content -- is a legitimate strategy. It's a topic I've covered in The Content Code book and in a recent podcast episode -- when you get it down to it, the best content marketing strategy is to create "Content Shock" for your competition by finding an unsaturated topical niche and then thoroughly dominating it to the point that you attract most of the Google juice. If you don't believe me, try competing with Hubspot in the content space. In a follow-up post, Chad Pollitt of Relevance goes a step further to explain that Google actually encourages quantity over quality. Perhaps their algorithm is hurting their own customers! Steve Rayson's article points to several examples where the "quantity" strategy is occurring. He points to the Washington Post strategy of increasing their publishing rate to attract more views. He furthers his argument by noting that cost of content is coming down which will rapidly enable a "quantity" strategy. We'll soon have computer algorithms creating loads of crappy content for us at very low cost. In fact, it is already happening. Steve mentioned to me that companies like Automated Insights are offering to produce 1,000 blog posts for $250. Are the posts any good? Maybe they don't have to be. Steve argues that the future of content marketing is quantity, not quality. Of course this goes against the conventional wisdom of almost every content marketing guru around these parts, but here's the truth -- Steve has only revealed the dirty little content marketing secret everybody knows but doesn't want to acknowledge: quantity can beat quality. At least in some cases ...

Quality still matters, mostly

When you have a business model that depends on "eyeballs on ads" then driving page views at any cost may make sense. But if you are a business (like mine) that is trying to attract loyal customers who stick around and actually do something, then the quality  model is probably the way to go. Let's use Steve Rayson's posts as an example. I never miss his articles because he always delivers in-depth, data-driven content. And he usually writes long posts -- but not too often -- so I can keep up with them. If Steve started posting 250 posts a week, the first reader he would lose is me, and that would be a shame because through his content, I have become friends and a collaborator with Steve ... which is how content marketing is supposed to work when you are trying to establish thought leadership. When I get people unsubscribing from my blog (it DOES happen!), the reason most often provided is "too many updates," and I only publish 3-4 times a week. Even if I pushed that to 6-7 posts a week, I know I would lose a LOT of readers ... even though I might get a lot more "views" because the sheer volume is going up.

Viewers versus readers

There is one other very important dynamic here. When people do click through to a corporate site, the average time on a piece of content is 15 seconds. So do you really want views ... or readers? Nevertheless, Steve is mostly correct in his analysis and I think the only ones who protest the truth of what he is writing either skimmed the post or are in denial. In fact, in the near future most content marketing may be turned over to the machines. I have this image in my head of those swarming bots in the The Matrix Trilogy hunting down unsaturated long-tail niches and then overwhelming the little opening with thousands of pieces of content. Of course this will happen. Rather depressing to think about, isn't it? I suppose at the end of the day the only "Neo" hero we have in the content marketing world is either to be the content curator or to be the brand trusted above all others. If we can create content that is un-missable, unmistakable, and un-copy-able we might have a chance ... but let's explore this idea a little more, shall we? Tom Webster and I dive over the crappy content waterfall in our latest Marketing Companion episode. We punch holes in the quantity versus quality debate as well as revive our plans for CompanionStorm, a listener conference featuring Kanye West (kind of). You'll have to hear it to believe it!

Please support our extraordinary sponsors. Our content is free because of their generosity.

Many thanks to our friend Scott Monty for the awesome show intro. Be sure to check out his amazing newsletter The Full Monty and his new podcast available here: fullmontyshow.com,

BuzzSumo is the world’s best way to discover, analyze and amplify your content. Run over to BuzzSumo today for a 14 day free trial. Beyond data, BuzzSumo offers priceless insights into content discovery, monitoring, influencers and outreach, content research and planning, and competitor research. Find out why so many Marketing Companion fans are now hooked on Buzzsumo. Check out BuzzSumo’s powerful technology to look at the hottest content trends down to the hour!

Affinio is now offering a FREE eBook co-authored with Mark Schaefer called How to Identify, Understand and Grow Your Ideal Content Audience. Check it out, as well as their new free audience Discovery tool. Affinio is an advanced marketing intelligence platform that leverages the interest graph to understand today’s consumers. Affinio believes that if we can understand individuals at a deeper and richer level, then we can fundamentally change the way people relate to one another. By understanding the interests and cultural DNA of key audience segments, marketers are empowered to take an audience-first approach to making meaningful connections with ideal consumers. Find out how at Affinio.com.
Direct download: Content_quantity_wins_out_over_quality.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 5:25am EST

I received a pretty big shock recently, a discovery that made me re-think who I am and what I know. For many years I have enjoyed digging into my family history. For many of us in the U.S. -- nearly all of us immigrants -- our family tree has tangled roots and uncovering where we come from can be an obsession. Most of the Irish side of my family came over during the potato famine of the mid-1800s. Some of my German ancestors where actually craftsmen in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. But one Dutch side of the family seems to have the longest history with America and in some way, the most sad. I recently discovered that one ancestor from this line of the family was a slave-owner in Virginia.

The mind game

This possible scenario for many Americans who have a long heritage in the country, but to actually have this ugly fact staring you in the face is unsettling, at least to me. To think that something in my distant blood had something to do with slavery just makes me shiver. And the mind game I pay is ... if I lived in that era, would I have been any better, or would I have just gone along? Psychologically, the justification for slavery was upheld by the leaders of the community, businesses and even the church, in some cases. In a rural Virginia village of the early 1800s, there was really no place to go for a dissenting point of view. There was no Internet, no Google, no television, no radio ... I probably wouldn't even have had access to a major newspaper. If I was cut off from the outside world, would I have any opinion beyond what I absorbed and repeated from the leaders in my isolated community? I'll never know if I would have had some sense of justice or if I would have fallen in line with the family business. I only have hope, and maybe sympathy, for the struggle of my made-up 1800s self. But what about today? That sort of information isolation is a thing of the past. With access to unlimited information, knowledge, opinions and insight ... is it any easier to be a a critical thinker and make an informed decision? The answer might surprise you.

Social media and critical thinking

Here is a grand irony. In this modern day, we have the accumulated knowledge of the human race in the palm of our hand, and we use this device primarily to rant about politics or share cat pictures. Although we have the infinite opportunity to learn and consider opposing views, the level of critical thinking may be no better today than the people who had access to no information in the 1800s. We're too busy to think, too busy to dig for truth.

  • A recent study showed that in general, people use social media to connect to like-minded people in their local communities instead of learning about other views and cultures.
  • Patricia Greenfield, a developmental psychologist, found that any screen-based technology we use, including video games, will certainly enhance our visual-spatial skills, but only at the expense of developing other mental abilities, including critical thinking, knowledge acquisition, and imagination. She said the rapid-fire reward of video games and text messaging could be a cause of the three-fold rise in Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) over the past 10 years.
  • Researchers at Stanford gave a series of cognitive tests to a group of heavy social media multi-taskers and another group of light users. The heavy multi-taskers were found to be more easily distracted, less able to control their working memory, and less able to concentrate on a task when compared to the light multi-taskers. 

What does this mean to marketing?

So this very weird thing is happening. We have more information at our fingertips than at any other time in history and the technology may be depressing our ability to think, process, and think critically. Technology does not give without taking. Tom Webster and I have been discussing some of our observations in this area. It appears to us that people simply believe -- and repeat -- almost anything they hear from business gurus without thinking. We're seeing this lack of critical thinking so often that we decided to address it on our podcast. Also, in this episode we take a stab at upgrading our Millennial reach by introducing a Would You Rather segment. You'll learn why Tom would prefer to crap his pants in Starbucks and Mark can rock a thong. You are probably gripped with anticipation for this Marketing Companion episode and thankfully relief is in sight. In fact, it's right here.

Please support our extraordinary sponsors. Our content is free because of their generosity.

Many thanks to our friend Scott Monty for the awesome show intro. Be sure to check out his amazing newsletter The Full Monty and his new podcast available here: fullmontyshow.com,

BuzzSumo is the world’s best way to discover, analyze and amplify your content. Run over to BuzzSumo today for a 14 day free trial. Beyond data, BuzzSumo offers priceless insights into content discovery, monitoring, influencers and outreach, content research and planning, and competitor research. Find out why so many Marketing Companion fans are now hooked on Buzzsumo. Check out BuzzSumo’s powerful technology to look at the hottest content trends down to the hour!

Affinio is now offering a FREE eBook co-authored with Mark Schaefer called How to Identify, Understand and Grow Your Ideal Content Audience. Check it out, as well as their new free audience Discovery tool. Affinio is an advanced marketing intelligence platform that leverages the interest graph to understand today’s consumers. Affinio believes that if we can understand individuals at a deeper and richer level, then we can fundamentally change the way people relate to one another. By understanding the interests and cultural DNA of key audience segments, marketers are empowered to take an audience-first approach to making meaningful connections with ideal consumers. Find out how at Affinio.com.
Direct download: The_enigma_of_critical_thinking_and_marketing_today.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 6:34pm EST

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