Content Shock: Why the Content Marketing Party is Over

Last week Mark Schaefer dropped a bomb with a blog post called Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy. The marketing community is still reeling from the aftershock. As I write this, the post currently has 246 comments with many content marketing heavyweights weighing in. Most of them are pretty angry but I think Schaefer makes a good point.

Empty Champagne Bottles

The economics of content marketing
Schaefer applies economic theory to the practice of content marketing and surmises the glut of content outstrips anyone’s ability to read it. It’s simple supply and demand logic that Schaefer has based on his own experience and observations in the industry. He says it’s become too expensive and too competitive for most businesses to gain advantage using content. I say he’s absolutely right.

Like Schaefer, I started blogging in 2009 and enjoyed a big boost to my business. No one in Australia was talking about content marketing then. The returns were almost immediate and generated qualified leads and speaking engagements much quicker than I expected. My blog was included on lists all over the world concerning content marketing and social media. It was very encouraging. But I spent five years in competitive sales and knew it was only a matter of time before competition showed up.

We’re in a content vortex
Fast forward to 2014 and not only has the Content Marketing Revolution arrived, it’s become more like a Content Vortex. It seems everyone is in content marketing. People with no background in publishing or journalism are publishing every day. Public relations, advertising, and SEO professionals are re-inventing themselves as content marketers. There’s a LOT of content being produced. I, for one, am exhausted by it all. My own saturation point was surpassed some time ago – not only in what I’m reading but also in what I’m writing. Believe it or not, that doesn’t really worry me.

In my first post on this blog, I fretted about relevance and the need for another voice in the blogosphere. As more voices entered this space – many of them vastly more talented than I am – I find there isn’t as much to say, as much new ground to break. It’s harder to write a post that can cut through the noise. Instead, I focus most of my time on client work and putting experience into practice for my customers.

Producing epic content
The simple truth across all industries is that more people are producing content so your content has to be better than your competitors. Joe Pulizzi says your content has to be epic. (Get his book; it’s worth every word.) You’re going to be competing with large corporations that have very deep pockets. That doesn’t mean they’re producing epic content. We’ve all seen expensive junk. I doubt Schaefer spent much money on his post but he’s enjoying fabulous returns.

So how can you produce epic content? It’s not that hard. Keep a tight focus on your target audience. Produce content that supports your business objectives. Play to the locals. Publish less often and make sure everything you publish is worth reading. Above all else, create a voice that belongs to your business.

If you haven’t read the Content Shock post yet, grab a cuppa, as we say in Australia, and dig in. The comments are essential reading because you’ll see exactly how the thought leaders in content marketing are reacting to a prediction that the party is over for early adopters. That’s all Schaefer is saying, in my opinion. Schaefer’s post is proof that great content is just as effective as ever.

Content Marketing World Sydney
If you’re in the Asia-Pacific region, Mark Schaefer is speaking at Content Marketing World Sydney in April. I’m sure there will be a lot of discussion about Content Shock. You can useGlobal100 to get a discount when you register for the event.

What’s your view on Content Shock? Is the party over for content marketers?

Image credit: Empty bottles in the rain by tanakawho, on Flickr

  • Hi James,

    I think you’ll find a lot of small business owners feel the same way. If producing original content isn’t something that’s needed to market your business, it’s probably a good idea not to do it at all.

    So nice to hear you’re spending your time with client work. That’s what every freelancer aspires to.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences.

  • Hi Sarah,

    I haven’t read the original post yet and look forward to doing so. The web content bubble, like any economic or financial bubble, can’t last forever.

    I’ve gone a step further than you. I haven’t just reduced my output (which was never high volume anyway). A couple of days ago I removed the entire news/blog area from my website. For me, it makes better business sense to devote the required time and effort to working for my clients.

    Content marketing is simply not appropriate or cost-effective for every business.


  • You’re right, Belinda. I think a lot of people are feeling defensive because they know they need to invest a lot more effort in what they’re doing. As I said in a tweet about the post, the content marketing is over, let the hard work begin.

    It’s my pleasure, Mark Schaefer. I hope you include a little of your Content Shock in your keynote at Content Marketing World in Sydney.

  • Thanks for continuing the dialogue with this excellent post.

  • I think the people who will complain the loudest are the people who realise they actually have to start working for the eye balls now.

    As you say in your blog, keep a tight focus on your target audience. I also think that businesses need to narrow the focus of their target audience and really dig into what makes them tick beyond their demographics. That’s when we can create content they will KEEP (just like Julie Fleisher from Kraft said at 2013 CMI)

    To be heard above noise, you need to whisper the right words in the right ears. Oh there’s a t-shirt right there!