Content Shock: How Mark Schaefer Blew My Mind In 2014

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When you are part of the international marketing community, sometimes something happens. Something scary or enlightening. Something that you know will change the way you approach marketing in general.

2014 kicked off with an event of this magnitude. Maybe not in everyone’s perception, but at least in mine.

I am talking about Mark Schaefer’s initial post about content shock. Not because I necessarily agree with everything he writes, but because he is right with his original observation: The amount of content on the web is growing exponentially and the competition when marketing with content is growing fierce.

A lot has been said about content shock – some were quick to dismiss it, while others agreed partially while carefully dismissing the problem as only becoming relevant in the distant future. The more I thought about the content marketing communities reaction, the more I thought they seemed… scared.

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Was I scared? Maybe a little – but the post also excited me. Whenever marketing changes it is a chance for something great to happen. For innovation to form, for disruption to take place. I’m a marketer, and I’m an entrepreneur – what more could I hope for?

Yet, many in the marketing community seem to have been so invested in content, content creation and content marketing in general that Mark’s (carefully planned, well executed and completely needed) provocation seemed to scare the shit out of them.

Why did they act so surprised? Wasn’t the problem obvious? Did they not know that the amount of content grew? Did they really think that simply creating more of the same would work? Did they not notice that Google already did have problems with the amount of content for years? Couldn’t they do the math that all content would compete with the same eyes?

I think they could – but they didn’t. They were too scared to see the light.

Content marketing was hyped as the new black for marketing in 2012 and 2013 – and that all stopped for a split second in the beginning of 2014. Mark reminded us that content marketing is simply a part of marketing and only the new black when it performs according to our promises. Yes, sometimes it can work like magic, but it can also fail hard when applied without careful consideration. Some industries simply don’t need more content some are over saturated.

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But aren’t you a marketer?

When someone asks you what you do, what do you say? “I’m a marketer!” or “I’m a content marketer!” If there is the word “content” in your sentence, doesn’t that already require the client to make the decision that content marketing is the right approach before he even consults you? Isn’t that already limiting you and your business opportunity and expertise?

Is that really all you can do?

If so, tough times are coming. Content marketing is not the disruptive force it once was. Wake up; everybody is doing it. You will have to be better than the competition, or more creative. You will have to focus on different types of content and different ways to promote your content.When you are part of the international marketing community sometimes something happens. Something scary or enlightening. Something that you know will ...

Marketing, as an industry will always head in the direction of what works – and so do marketers. When content marketing doesn’t work for a project, then why do it?

While it is completely legitimate to have content marketing experts and further develop content marketing as a strategy every year, is it really necessary to continue with the whole content marketing vs. traditional marketing parable?

Can’t we just be modern marketers trying to work on the disruptive edge of what our industry is capable of? Do you really believe the CCO will replace the CMO?

I don’t.

Mark Schaefer with his original content shock post made me realize that I’m not and should not be just a content marketer. Instead of focusing on content for our marketing efforts we should focus on providing value. And not just the value we provide to our readers, listeners and viewers, but especially on the value we provide to our clients and employers. Because that is something we sometimes forget.

Content marketing has already played a big role in this before 2010, and it will continue to play a huge part in this in the future. But that role will never be solitary. And when we try to limit ourselves to content of any form we limit ourselves.

Like any professional in the world, we get hired to get a job done – we can do it to the best of our abilities using all the tools available or we will just be the ones who decided to keep our narrow point of view.

This is one of my shorter posts – there is not much more to say about this. Content is and always will be an effective tool to be used in marketing. But some seem to forget that it is not the only tool we have. When we stop to limit ourselves to this, content shock becomes not just less scary – it becomes irrelevant.

I’m a marketer. My job is to market – in the best way possible. Sometimes content marketing is the best way. Sometimes it is not.

Deal with it, content marketing community.

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