It's about being overwhelmed. Marketers are overwhelmed, especially the storytellers and the digital mavens that can't miss the next big thing. But as I soak up the content marketing knowledge at #CMWorld, I learned that there's another constituent that's also overwhelmed - our customers. How did we take it too far – and how do we get back to basics?
Are we to blame? Well, maybe. Since the boom of content marketing, it's clear to see that we've just gone too far, hopping on every trend and beating it senseless until it's no longer relevant. As I reflect on previous conferences, I can see how marketers have cluttered the airwaves (on every channel), beyond belief. The clutter is real.
And throughout this past week, the friction between marketers and end customers is continually attributed to a large amount of content that is coming at them from many angles and is often not helping them solve their problems.
At INBOUND 2015, it was about how to create memorable content, and how to gather actionable data across each touch point of the strategy. It was about not only creating content, but making sure you're doing it in a way that measures ROI. So this meant we included hashtags and bit.lys, and hosted this and that on landing pages and added forms and re-purposed, and made video testimonials and infographics, and more buzzwords. Makes sense, right?
And not just content for one audience - all the audiences! All the audiences across all the channels and all the product lines. We tangled that thing like Clark Griswold's Christmas lights.
In 2016, INBOUND was about working smarter, not harder. Cha ching. The big theme was upcycling content into other standalone pieces that are ideal for different channels. And before you know it, e-book chapters became individual blog posts and Top 5 lists became Instagram tips, how-to steps became Snap stories, and webinars became Slideshares. Like putting water on a Gremlin.
In 2017, (switching gears to #CMWorld), Jay Acunzo lays it on us and says
"umm guys…we're all creating too much content, and it's mostly garbage."
And we all looked around at each other and silently declared "He must be talking about you.” But he wasn’t. He was looking each of us square in the face.
Talk about overwhelming - wait what?! I haven't charged the keyboard that attaches to my iPad since INBOUND 2015, but my strategy has done a few 180s.
In previous years, we thought of ourselves as the trail-blazers, going before where no one had gone. But the secret is out – and the airwaves are getting filled once again.
So let's all take a deep breath and sift through the pay dirt to find the flecks of gold that are a bit more timeless and we are desperately in need of. We need to walk the fine line between branded content and customer-centric content, because content marketing is no longer a novelty – but good content is.
These are the gems that I took away from #CMWorld that marketers need to feel less overwhelmed, and that our customers deserve because we keep handing them Gremlins and Christmas lights.
We're getting back to basics here, people. Because what do we do when we get overwhelmed? Retreat to what we know. And we know that Merriam-Webster is a legend in the content game, and Strunk & White is still a fan favorite.
So, the conference was great, thanks for asking. But my head isn't spinning, in fact, it's winding down a bit. Get back to the basics, get back to storytelling, and get back to being customer-centric.
Ok fine, I did freak out a little at the intro - but Content Marketing World proved to be a great learning opportunity with thousands of my closest friends, and actionable insights from industry pros. They hit me with their best shot.
Photo credit: Joe Pulizzi via Twitter @joepulizzi