Content Marketing Is Dead (But There's Always This)…

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**Content Marketing is dead. Right? That didn’t take long.**
I’ve been reading this notion of *”too much content and not enough value”* a lot lately. It usually starts with the premise that consumers simply can’t keep up with the pace and increase in content production and publication. We live in a day and age when anyone can create content – in text, images, audio and video – for free with global distribution. We live in a day and age when people like [Bethany Mota]( “Bethany Mota”) can get ten million active subscribers to engage with her every move. We live in a day and age when a [YouTube]( “YouTube”) channel producer like [Maker Studios]( “Maker Studios”) can be sold to a company like [Disney]( “Disney”) for [five hundred million dollars]( We live in a day and age where a couple of guys from Montreal – who were publishing an alternative magazine – can suddenly move to New York, embrace digital marketing and turn [Vice]( “Vice”), into one of [the most powerful and valuable media properties]( in the world. All of this, and we’re not even talking about the thousand upon thousand of individuals getting fame, attention and more from blogging and podcasting. Still, if consumers can’t keep up – and aren’t even paying for any of this content – then what’s the point? Where’s the business? Who gets paid for creating all of this content, and how do brands get their content to connect with consumers in this tsunami of publishing? I’ve been writing about this for almost a decade. My friend, [Mark W. Schaefer]( “Mark W. Schaefer”), got a lot of attention on this topic with his blog post, [Content Shock](—content-shock-with-shel-holtz-and-mark-w-schaefer/), and there are many more.
**Is there are solution?**
As marketing professionals, we are often asked to do a full audit of a brand’s catalogue of content. This includes the content that they have on websites and intranets, to everything the brand is pushing out in the social media channels. From there, they want to know one thing, and one thing only: what’s working? They want to do more of that. Much more. This doesn’t defuse or change anything. It’s also quite challenging to validate why one piece of content works better than another. Yes, there are some clear and simple rules that we have seen developed over the past few years, but once you get past those, it’s often unclear why some pieces of content do better than others. With that, the push for brands to do more social media and more content marketing is real. So what does work? Is it about publishing only things that have the DNA to go viral? Is it about publishing with a frequency and reach, so that the brand is always top of mind? How do you think the best content creators approach their work?
**The end of content as an engine of publishing.**
When I think of great content, I tend to think of successful books. Books that have sold a lot of copies, because individuals have taken the time to not only buy them and read them (which, is very time consuming), but to also share them, or place them on a bookshelf… or on a table at their office. A book is a piece of long-form content that was finished, and that affected the consumer… on a deeper level. If a brand can have *that* affect on a consumer… that would be something.
**How is content like that created?**
If you spend any amount of time on YouTube watching bestselling and famous authors discuss their writing process (and, for the record, I have spent an embarrassing amount of time doing *exactly* that), you begin to see three familiar themes emerge:
**1. The art of writing.** Authors often talk about other authors who write and publish books with a lot of frequency (some with limited success) as *”churning”* out the work versus crafting the words. This is significant, because when authors speak about churning something out versus crafting it as an art form, they are also quick to self-recognize when they are doing it themselves. It may be during something as innocuous as a daily writing session, or in relation to a book that they published to please an editor, or to comply with a publishing contract. Ultimately, they believe that their best work is done when they are crafting the words, instead of just churning them out.
**2. Care.** While it may sound simple enough, the best authors often come back to something that they had written the day before to analyze the work more deeply (and, with a fresh set of eyes). This is less about editing the work – from a content perspective – and much more about looking at the content and trying to figure out if it really matters. Does the reader really care? Will the reader really care about it? Was there enough care put into the work for anyone to feel it? Authors won’t publish anything that doesn’t illustrate how much care they put into the content.
**3. True value.** Brands are not creating words of fiction (hopefully!). Brands are doing everything possible to use content as a way to say things differently. This is the power of the new brand narrative. So, how great is that content? Another core theme that bestselling authors repeat when discussing their process is how they only publish something that has real value. Not just for the reader, but for the author as well. They want to know that all of that time spent toiling with adjectives and verbs was well worth it. They want to know that all of that time wrestling alone with their words meant something. They want to feel like the finished products deserves its space in the book store… or on your [Kindle]( “Kindle”). Authors only publish things that have real value.
**Now, seriously, how many brands do you know that embrace these three simple ideas in their content creation?**