The truth is, content marketing isn't what it used to be.
While it's true that marketing has never been more important for corporations and small brands alike, the overall practice of content marketing to differentiate from other brands has gotten a lot more crowded.
Most businesses and brands are recognizing the need for content marketing. And with that, content marketing itself has gotten more difficult. Here are 7 reasons why.
1. There are a lot more competitors
This is relatively obvious. The more players in a game the harder it is to compete. On one hand, especially in the case of content marketing, competition can be a good thing.
The validity of the market size can be determined and analyzed through observing your competitors. Competitors compete for mind share during the buyer's journey by creating as much quality content as they can.
Once brands started seeing results from the inbound way of thinking and content marketing, it only made it more difficult for existing brands to maintain their stature as well for new entrants to get discovered by the people who most need what they buy amidst the noise, purely based on the unlimited supply of content now available to buyers.
2. There's an unlimited supply of content
Most marketers, brands and corporations recognize the need for content. Not just any content but high-quality content. It’s what more and more customers are calling for. Every brand is competing for their audiences’ attention. As the result, the amount of content on social media and the internet is staggering.
There is an unlimited supply of content. This means that no brand, company, or organization can hold an advantage over another by the amount of content they produce alone.
Marketing departments will have to increase the amount of spending on a campaign to stand out to their customers. This in turn can cause the ROI trend to go down.
3. Customers have high standards
Potential customers are experts, albeit subjective, at assessing whether the content they consume is quality to them or not.
Realistically no one watches a video or reads an infographic saying “ah, this is quality!” rather - validation of quality manifests itself more subtly, such as deciding to navigate to the homepage of that brand to learn more after watching a related YouTube video, or reading more than one blog posted on the brand’s website, and so on.
When another brand comes along with content, they would have seen a fair share of articles, videos, or podcasts to be able to make a call on whether this “new” piece of content is worth their attention and trust, and more fundamentally, whether it adds anything new to them.
4. Creating new content can be costly
This one is straightforward. Let’s be conservative and consider this a purely external factor based on budget, headcount, and other circumstances within the company. Marketers have to constantly find creative ways to stay top of mind, gain mind share and build thought leadership.
All this leads to generating tangible results for their team and the company within the allocated budget, and with the accessible talent they have in-house.
Because brands need money to make money (and content), project managing resources efficiently to create the highest quantity and quality of content is always tough for brands when other competitors may be better funded or better organized, thus making the ROI and cost of content marketing an uphill battle.
5. Companies may have to increase their headcount
Brands may have to hire more people to pump more high-quality content. Continuing to grow an in-house marketing team can in many cases be the best long-term solution.
In the short term, however, it can get pretty expensive pretty fast for brands.
Businesses that want to solve the content problem by growing their marketing headcount recognize that there are too many hidden costs associated for it to have an immediate pay-off. These include compensation and benefits costs, training costs, downtime and learning curve, along with other associated overheads.
This growth is most expensive, especially for SMBs that may not have a large dedicated marketing headcount budget.
6. Agencies and freelancers can be costly in the long-term
Working with marketing agencies or freelancers could be a plausible approach for many businesses regardless of their profile, but it too comes with hidden true costs.
It costs time and money to put together RFPs (Requests for Proposals), arrange pitch sessions, review references, and finally select an agency within the budget allocated. After selection, it would be up to each business to train, coach, and approve work consistently.
A marketing agency could be a great way for a business to find their feet and put some foundations of brand identity and online presence, but many brands know that deep down, this may not be the most cost effective long-term solution.
Various per hour fees, retainers, while often designed to be ROI-centric, always keeps businesses guessing whether this is the best solution to their pain point, in light of how many years they intend to be in business.
7. Doing nothing is not an option
In choosing not to do anything, we lose in the short and long term with the people who most wanted to hear from us and do business with us. I found it tough to meet many brands who said they are not planning to do any content marketing.
The closest to this I found are businesses that have recently rebranded, or have been neglecting it for long enough and are now beginning to put their initial content strategy together. Brands have nothing to gain by doing nothing. Content marketing is too important for the health and growth of companies to ignore.
8. Word of mouth can be unpredictable
For most brands that believe reactive customer word of mouth alone would be sufficient in attracting new business, they will not have the means to grow predictably.
Rather, they will always resort to playing it by ear which in business can be synonymous with suicide. Bigger (or smarter) competition doing high volumes of quality content will generate more word of mouth, and progressively limit your market share, reducing addressable opportunity and resulting in lost potential revenue.
Word of mouth continues to be king, and brands that aren’t doing content marketing are blocking themselves the opportunity to create scalable word of mouth assets in various rich media formats.
So what's the way out?
Host your own party
While many brands press on in the content rat race, doing things as they've always been done, some brands are slowly realizing that there is a golden opportunity to do something different; they're creating their own racecourse.
They turned to Netflix, HBO, sitcoms and television for inspiration. The result is building episodic content, or original series, that make it easy and fun for their audience to tune in to and learn while they get entertained.
For more inspiration, check out our blog on video series ideas.