The Big Flaw with “Content Shock” and the Way We See Content Marketing

by Marcus Sheridan

Content_Marketing_Confusion

I’ve got a lot going on in my head this evening and have some trepidation that I’m not going to be able to distill my current thoughts here in a clear and understandable way.

But try I will, and I hope you’ll stay with me until the end, as this will likely be a long ride…

The “Content Shock” Conversation

Many of you have likely read the flurry of articles, comments, etc. about “content shock” over the past few weeks. It started with Mark Schaefer putting it out there on his tremendous blog, then carried over to CopyBlogger with another great piece from Sonia Simone, and has since bounced around many other content marketing corners of the internet.

It has been an interesting debate indeed. Well done Mark Schaefer.

Up until this point, I haven’t made any comments on any of these articles because the truth is, I didn’t want to jump the gun as we so often do and post/say/communicate something I’d just regret later. But with the passing of time, I’ve come to this conclusion:

My philosophical approach to what “content marketing” really is (the definition) is very, very different than a huge portion in this industry.

And because of this, I just don’t feel good about the “content shock” article and the trend I’m seeing of many who want to pile on and predict a bleak future for content marketing.

But before I say any more regarding this topic, let me state for the record that I LOVED Mark Schaefer’s article. In so many ways, it represents everything that is great about the digital age. It spawned incredible conversation and debate, and has forced many people to put their stake in the ground on a very intriguing subject.

I love that, and it’s something we don’t see enough of online.

The Tenets of Content Gloom and Doom

For those of you that have yet to read the original article, let me just repeat a couple of Schaefer’s points and then get to the meat of my thoughts here:

Content Shock: The emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it.

(Which, in Schaefer’s words, will also lead to:)

  • The eventual winners of content marketing will have the deepest pockets.
  • The entry barriers will become too high for other businesses.
  • The economics created by Content Shock will eventually drive many content creators out of business.
  • The fact that it’s harder than ever to maintain an audience

Much more has been said on the subject thus far by Schaefer (I’ve read the post 3 times, and then listened to his podcast episode on the topic as well  just to ensure I understood his stance on things), but we’ll stick with these and a few other points in the article herein.

Rebuttals and Other Thoughts

Schaefer Point #1: “Content shock is…exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it…”

The core to Schaefer’s argument here comes down to his feelings on supply/demand economics. In short, this makes no sense to me, but then again, I’m by no means an economist. Heck, I’m just a recovering “Pool Guy.”

Personally, I look at it like this:

Let’s say, for the sake of conversation, you are like the rest of the world and are inundated in information. It’s coming at you from everywhere and your face is buried in your phone, or iPad, or laptop all the time. You’re also being hit with mountains of other media during every waking hour. (In other words, you’re alive and you’re a human being in 2014.)

All this being said, will this information overload prevent you from researching and making normal buying decisions?

  • If you decide you want to buy a swimming pool, will you find the time to research it?
  • If you decide you want to send your child to the best private school in your area, will you find the time to do the leg-work?
  • If you’re looking for a job in your career field, will you find the time to search for it?

The answers are the same for all of us:

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

So here is my first main point:

Consumers, from now until the end of the world, will find the time to research that which is important to them.

We will always find the time to research that which we most care about...

We will always find the time to research that which we most care about…

That’s just the facts, and all the dad-gum information overload in the world will not stop this reality.

Schaefer Point #2: The eventual winners of content marketing will have the deepest pockets.

This statement is absolutely true assuming all factors are equal when you compare organizations and their content marketing efforts across the board. It’s also a true statement for EVERY industry(beyond content marketing) in the entire world, from popsicle stick manufacturers to space-ship engineering companies—money *should* be a big advantage.

But you and I both know there is no such thing as equality in skills, people, etc.

In fact, there are a lot of rich, stupid companies out there.

This is also why I think the Digital David’s will continue to dominate the Goliaths of their industries for the foreseeable future.

Why?

Because they’ll always be more nimble, creative, and willing to think outside the box.

Yes,  money is a huge advantage and can make up for a lot of stupidity—but ultimately the Digital David’s still win because of their unique qualities—just as it has always occurred since the beginning of time.

Schaefer Point #3: The Barriers (to entry) will become too high

This statement is true and false at the same time.

Many of you know I have written about CSI (content saturation index) before, as well as the digital land rush—both of which are efforts we currently see from companies in every industry to capture the digital real-estate of their realm and dominate when it comes to SEO.

The fact is, those that get in early with SEO will have a huge advantage over those that come in years after the initial content grab, and this will be the case until Google and the other search engines completely redefine their algorithm and the search experience (which will clearly happen at some point in the next 10 years).

But SEO is NOT the same thing as content marketing.

Sure, SEO is a component of a sound content marketing strategy, but it doesn’t make the whole—not even close.

Furthermore, today there is almost ZERO “barrier to entry” when it comes to content marketing.

I can enter any industry I want, right this second, simply by writing a blog post about said industry.

In other words, entry has never been easier in the history of the world.

But yes, having your voice heard above the rest of the noise—now that can be difficult.

Schaefer Point #4: It will be harder to retain audiences

In his podcast, Schaefer uses an example (of Content Shock) when referring to a good friend and reader who had commented to Mark that he had stopped reading his blog not because of a lack of appreciation for Mark’s content, but rather because he was simply too distracted with all the other noise.

Hearing Mark’s concern when describing this situation made me raise an eyebrow, for 2 main reasons:

1. People’s habits change based on where they feel they are getting the most value for their time:

The frank reason Mark’s friend stopped reading his blog is because he valued the other things he was doing more than reading Mark’s content. This isn’t at all a knock on Mark, especially because he has developed what I feel is arguably the best community blog on the web for marketing folks.

Personally, I lose readers all the time. In fact, I’ve even written an article as to why you’re going to stop reading my blog one of these days.

People change. They evolve. They move on—just  as it occurs in other areas of our lives—TV shows we used to watch, places we used to visit, friends we used to hang out with, etc.

priorities_and_content

Would I like for every reader of The Sales Lion to stay? A part of me says yes, but another part of me says no—simply because what I really want is for readers to experience growth, prosperity, and peace in their life. And if this is accomplished by focusing on other things—my blog not included—then awesome.

2. Most businesses don’t care about audiences, they just want customers.

Yes, I really did just say that, but stay with me here for a second.

Let’s take my swimming pool company as an example.

Never once over the years have I ever thought, “I want to build my swimming pool audience.”

No, it doesn’t work like that for me. I don’t sweat subscribers. I don’t care about social media metrics. The only thing that matters is new leads and new customers.

And when I consider all my clients with The Sales Lion, many of which are in incredibly unique industries, none of them consider “audience” a Key Performance Indicator of their business, and instead bring everything back to leads and sales.

Remember, an “audience” is NOT the same thing as a potential customer or client—it’s anyone that can possibly hear/read/consume your stuff.

But audiences don’t pay bills. Customers and clients do.

Schaefer Point #5: The economics created by Content Shock will eventually drive many content creators out of business

Do you know what drives most businesses out of business?

They stink at running a business.

Yep, that’s it, and it’s certainly NOT anything to do with content.

As for content creators, those that truly understand *how* to do content marketing, as well as how to *use* content marketing will be incredibly successful—always.

Let me tell you something and please think hard about this for a second:

If I never got a single *new* visitor to my website again (because of content through SEO or Social) I’d still be producing content just as I do today.

The reason for this is 3-fold:

1. Assignment Selling: Some of you have heard me talk about Assignment Selling before—which is the process of using content in the sales process (once a lead is in the system) to better qualify said lead and ultimately push them further down (or out) of the sales funnel. (We either force them to love us or hate or through our content.)

Assignment selling is something almost all my clients use and frankly it revolutionizes businesses when implemented correctly.

And yet it has NOTHING to do with SEO, silly social media metrics, or anything else of the sort. Nor is it remotely affected by CSI, competition, number of blog subscribers, etc.

2. Content Marketing Tipping Points: This is another drum I’ve been beating but to explain it clearly, I’ll go back to the phrase that describes it best:

“If you hang around the barber shop long enough, you’re going to get your hair cut.”

Or, in this case, if a visitor hangs around your website long enough, eventually they’ll want to engage with you—and likely no one else.

Because Google has told us that 70% of the buying decision is made before the zero moment of truth(when the prospect calls/contacts you for the first time), all of us better do everything in our power to earn their business before that first contact—otherwise we’ll likely never get it.

Tell me, if companies stopped producing content today, just because their industry was too slammed with “other content,” how would that impact visitor time on their website? Pages viewed? Conversions?

The answer, as you well know, is that it would be a disaster.

3. The Gospel According to You: This one flies under the radar in every content marketing corner of the earth, but essentially it works like this:

Most companies lack a core philosophy and doctrine, mainly because they’ve never taken the time to write out said philosophy and doctrine.

Content marketing, when done right, can completely change this and act as a company’s “bible” of sorts—explaining the answers they have to almost all consumer/customer questions, problems, concerns, etc.

Don’t you think having a company doctrine is just a little important folks?

Yeah, me too, but few ever relate this to content marketing.

In other words, companies that understand the value of content  beyond the “find” phase, and use it for the selling, nurturing, and retention cycles of a customer—will ALWAYS see tremendous value in producing content. And those that don’t understand this value, will worry about their industry having “too much content.”

A Difference of Philosophies

As I mentioned earlier in this post, I think the problem with this big debate comes down to different philosophical approaches to what content marketing is.

content_marketing_definition

When I define “content marketing,” I do it in these simple terms:

A business’ ability to be the most helpful and effective teachers in the world at what they do.

I don’t think many people share my opinion on this, and that’s quite alright, but look at it this way:

If we were to strip all the fancy terms and phrases we use in this industry and had to explain what  we’re really trying to do with all this social, content, and inbound “stuff”—what would those words look like?

I submit they come down to 3 magically simple words:

  • Listening
  • Communicating
  • Teaching

To me, that’s all we’re striving to do here. And because these words are the core of content marketing, and because they’re also principle based, the value of this will never go away.

Listening will always be critical in business.

Effective communication will always dramatically impact consumers.

And powerful teaching will always be the key to generating consumer trust and action.

This is exactly why I submit we should get back to the basics and help individuals and businesses truly understand *what* content marketing is—what its principles are based in—and why these principles are eternal. In fact, I recently produced (with the design help of Barry Feldman) a powerful slideshare presentation on this very subject:

So is there a “content shock” occurring my friends? Personally, I’d just say it’s simply another phase in the “content evolution,” something that has been happening since the first images were scraped on walls of caves eons ago and something that will certainly outlast anyone reading this post.

Your Turn:

Yes, that was a little long-winded, I do agree, but now it’s your time. Agree or disagree, feel free to say what’s on your mind…

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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike January 21, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Great post, Marcus. You can tell you really took the time to make sure your thoughts came out correctly. Thank you for this!

I think the “digital land-rush” and the “content shock” theories both overlap in a small way. Much like a Venn diagram.

Businesses that are in the content game right now will reap the most reward in content marketing (digital land rush) while it will take more money a.k.a better content (content shock) to break into a well established area of expertise who someone snagged during the land rush era.

And, in turn it will be harder to retain an audience (email subscribers who eventually turn into sales leads) because a company will have to continue to produce hit article after hit article. Which means hiring more professionals who are passionate about a business who know what they are doing.

While the last point I disagree with. I don’t know if all this will drive people out of content marketing vs driving markets to produce better content. Cream of the crop kinda deal.

Just my opinion (like the others) though. It’ll will be very interesting to see where this web is at in 10-20 years.

Thanks again.

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Vincent Messina February 8, 2014 at 9:53 am

Ok, THIS is a blog that answers my questions.

http://radicalmustache.com/

Very nice to find you Mike.

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Mike February 19, 2014 at 11:57 pm

Happy to hear you find it useful, Vincent!

Thanks for subscribing!

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Ruth Zive January 21, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Thank goodness. The voice of reason. With all due respect to Mark, I found his blog post to be somewhat of a ‘scare tactic’.

Of course, there is a lot of ‘noise’ out there. And the content marketing landscape is evolving. But there should be no doubt that as long as people seek information, content will prevail.

Simple as that.

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Marcus Sheridan January 21, 2014 at 5:18 pm

And if it doesn’t prevail Ruth, we’ve officially been taken over by aliens. ;-)

Thanks for all,

Marcus

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Don Stanley January 21, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Just finished it and grateful you joined in the amazing conversation. I’m particularly grateful for your perspective …

Personally, I’m concerned that the idea of “content shock” might keep people from even trying to get involved with CM and more importantly keep them from trying to be helpful for their audiences by sharing content online.

I find the most common reaction to people learning about “content shock” is they get pessimistic. They ask disempowering questions (though they are legitimate questions) such as, “why should I even bother trying I can’t compete?”. I know that isn’t the point of Mark’s article, but it’s easy to feel like you’re too late to the ballgame to even get involved if you don’t dig deep.

Appreciate the time you took to read and re-read and listen to his thoughts and provide some very useful perspective. I’ll be sharing this with my kiddos at University of Wisconsin-Madison. TY for adding to the mix ;-)

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Bob Reed January 21, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Seriously good take down on content FUD, Marcus.

Schaffer makes it sound that sitting down in front of your computer will inundate you with so much information that you’ll end up flailing around, gasping for air and retreating for another part of your house or office screaming “No mas!”

It comes to this: Audiences (the people that will become customers of your business) will find the information they want, when they want it. As you have so concretely demonstrated, they’ll begin their journey with a simple question and go from there. If your content answers those increasingly complex and nuanced queries, you’ll end up winning more.

As for the digital land grab, true, those first in have a advantage. But in the B2B space small to medium-sized enterprises have barely dipped their toe in keeping their websites up to date, let alone engaging in social media and content development. There is still along way to go.

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Marcus Sheridan January 21, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Agreed on all point Bob. B2Bs have a longggg way to go in terms of industry saturation. Heck, as far as I can tell, there are only a handful of industries right now that are on the high end of saturation (this one certainly being in that list!)

Great of you to stop by old friend,

Marcus

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Saundra LaLone January 21, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Great article! Articles only feel long if they aren’t well articulated and have great points from beginning to end. No worries on getting your thoughts across in a clear and understandable way…mission accomplished!

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Marcus Sheridan January 21, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Very kind of you to say Saundra, much thanks and have a great rest of your week!

Marcus

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Ryan Biddulph January 21, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Hi Marcus,

Success responds to value…..value shared through content marketing or any other medium.

Share the value. With your audience. Succeed. No barrier to entry or dollar amount invested can hold back serious, targeted, non-stop value, provided on a daily basis.

Certain laws govern the Universe. These never change. Sow. Reap. Forget the shock bit, just create tons of helpful content, meet a ton of interested people, make friends with pros, and prosper.

Love the points you made Marcus. Thanks for sharing!

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Jeremy Abel January 21, 2014 at 7:42 pm

Hi Marcus,

This is an outstanding article and a breath of fresh air amidst the deluge of “the sky is falling” talk that’s been causing some businesses to choke when it comes to content marketing.

And by “choke” I simply mean: after hearing that they need to start answering customer questions through their blog yesterday some businesses quickly throw up their arms in disarray upon realizing the time/effort required to produce something of actual substance or, alternatively, cranking out an inconsistent series of convoluted, bit-sized pieces of content that barely reflect the strategy which conceived them in the first place. No doubt businesses need to develop and adhere to a standard of quality to ensure their content stands out from that of competitors’, but the other missing piece to this is the fact that businesses just need to pause-think-think-(and then)-post. My parents always said “patience is a virtue,” and in seeing how many brands rush to get their voice heard on the web, they’re missing a critical opportunity to reflect upon their thoughts and subsequently deliver a fully-formed response. As you’ve done so eloquently with this post, your response was calculated and methodically bolstered by a selection of previous articles, culminating in an engaging post that has readers saying “YES!” after reading every-other sentence.

Consumers will always need information to make a buying decision- that will NEVER change. What will change is the content deliver network, which was once primarily a channel known as word-of-mouth and salespeople, and has since expanded to include the easily accessible web. As more businesses disperse their insights to the world wide web- and hopefully raise the bar in terms of content quality-, content delivery networks such as search engines and social media sites will have their work cut out for them to ensure that their users (consumers) receive the cream of the crop content.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that search engines want to deliver what they think users will find valuable, and if your business really understands what your customers value then there is a massive opportunity to get your content noticed and benefit from those insights- and to support that argument I reference exhibit A: how Marcus Sheridan acquired more visitors, leads, and customers by answering their questions. Yes, by now there will be many more businesses that follow Marcus’ process, but since that particular approach (via blogging) has already been done, he’s raised the bar on his competitors. Translation: businesses need to discover a more engaging way to deliver answers to customers’ questions.

Maybe then, as more businesses start blazing their own path, they’ll find a road with less competition and more room to breathe (as I’m sure you found to be the case when igniting your pool blog a few years back).

As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts and holding absolutely nothing back! Great stuff, Marcus.

Jeremy

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Anand January 22, 2014 at 7:09 am

One of the outcomes of content shock is that content is now no longer as important as the title. I can especially feel it on communities like reddit – it doesn’t matter what a trending article has to say. If the title is editorialized in one way, the entire commenting thread is about what the title of the post is about. The same mentality can be found on other channels like twitter or facebook. Likes and retweets only mean people agree or disagree with your title – it does not necessarily mean they have read through the linked article.

Anand
http://entrepreneurshipdaily.com/

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Adam Kielich January 23, 2014 at 2:50 pm

I couldn’t agree more. The headline drives the majority of discussion and shares online. One almost gets the sense that the social media-driven internet is more about content going out than content going in; i.e. people want to voice their opinion before they have digested the content that their opinion addresses. Aside from that deviation from the point, a successful headline does make a huge difference between whether people will even click a link or share the story. Sites like Mashable and HuffPo make their living on selling headlines that oversell stories that you didn’t care about because the headline is intriguing.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Anand, one of the keenest observations I’ve read in a long time. Some of the bad side of journalism has absolutely snuck into the online world.

But I doubt the trend will change…

Thanks again for stopping by,
Marcus

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Henley Wing January 22, 2014 at 8:54 am

Totally agree.

I feel those that should be worried about the content shock issue are companies where the content IS the product, aka Buzzfeed, Huff Post, etc. For them, yes it’s an issue as there’s only so many memes, cat pics, etc we can consume per day.

But content on which swimming pool to buy if I want X, Y and Z? GOOD, USEFUL content that is laid out in an easy to way, user friendly manner? That’s not that easy to find.

OK, if you’re a SEO or content marketing company, then yeah, those type of content is probably flooded, but you’re looking at the world from a marketer’s perspective. You’re suffering from marketer’s bias. Get out of that world, and you’ll see that there is NO content shock.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2014 at 12:09 pm

We’re absolutely on the same page Henley, very well said.

Appreciate you stopping by,

Marcus

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Karl Barndt January 22, 2014 at 9:23 am

I’m more of a glass half-empty guy, and I think Henley Wing above hinted at a major truth in Mark’s Content Shock: Some market niches are going to be affected more than others. I think it’s naive to believe otherwise. As a marketer who’s recently begun blogging (mostly) regularly, it’s damn tough to get a chunk of audience share. But that’s marketing–lots of voices, lots of noise.

On the other hand, I’ve had prospects and clients who faced nearly zero competition in content production. If they’d make minimum publishing effort they’d easily dominate their market niche in content.

From a marketing consultant’s perspective, this is my takeaway from Content Shock: Look at your competition’s content efforts when creating a publishing plan and respond accordingly (and within budget). But never assume that a minimum effort is enough.

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Ron Marcus January 22, 2014 at 9:37 am

Hi Marcus,

I couldn’t agree more with what you wrote here. “Content Marketing” has taken on a life of its own, or rather, has become larger than life as a glorified marketing discipline when in fact, it is something marketers have been doing since the beginning of marketing. You distill it beautifully – listen, communicate, teach. I.e. give customers value from the first contact, and demonstrate that you’re qualified to provide the service or product you’re offering.

It would be laughable for someone to predict the end of novels because too many have already been published, or that only rich publishers will have their novels read. In fact, people are hungry for new novels to read all the time. Novels are another form of content. And the internet is providing so many ways to discover great novels from otherwise obscure authors, who are self-publishing or using small publishers to help them.

Bottom line: your customer, not your content, is king. Create content to help your customers. The rest will follow naturally.

Great post, Marcus!

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Amen,Amen,Amen Ron. Very well said my friend. :)

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Kathleen Booth January 22, 2014 at 9:54 am

Great post Marcus! And I really agree with your take on this. I, too, love Mark’s blog but I’m feeling pretty fatigued by the tendency in the marketing world (and very much fueled by bloggers) to declare things “dead” (Why paid search is dead, why SEO is dead, social media is dead, Facebook is dead, etc. – these are all titles of recent blogs!). None of these things are dead and content marketing isn’t on the decline. It is all just in a state of evolution.

I think of online content like I think of books or websites. There are literally millions of them (lots of noise) but that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped reading the or looking at them – it just means that the good ones will get seen more than the bad ones. Similarly, you don’t need a ton of money to produce good content – you just have to roll up your sleeves and do some good, old fashioned, hard work on developing buyer personas, understanding your sales cycle, and creating really helpful content to meet peoples’ needs as they move through their decision making process.

I know this stuff works because its working for me and I own a tiny marketing agency in little ol Annapolis Maryland that has NEVER spent a cent on advertising – yet I am getting clients from throughout the country and even some from OTHER countries – all because of my online content. It has literally changed my business. There is no other form of marketing out there (and I have tried most of them) that I can say this about.

Mark is a great writer and thought leader and I applaud him for starting the conversation, but I wish bloggers in general could find a way to engage in dialogue about these things without being so extreme! It makes everything very confusing for the end users of marketing services.

Best,

Kathleen Booth

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2014 at 11:50 am

Kathleen, I really, really enjoyed reading this. You are a classic example of a business that’s truly doing it right, in a highly saturated industry (marketing) and you’re getting big time results. I love that!!

BTW, I think there is a HUG meeting coming up in a couple of weeks, and I hope to see you all there!

Marcus

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Mark W Schaefer January 22, 2014 at 10:11 am

Marcus, good job on this thoughtful dissection of the topic. I would like to challenge you on your major premise as well as concede to one of your points.

You agreed with most of what I had to say and while it is true that people will always search for information, the major flaw in your logic, and the logic of others, is that you are writing from the perspective of the victor. Sure the continuing success of “answering questions” works for you because you have already dominated the market with answers.

In your niche of regional pool installation, your competitors are already in Content Shock. They may want to be as helpful as you are and answer every question but it is too late because the market is already saturated with content. Their content marketing strategy would not be sustainable — they will need to hunt for something else. I’m not saying content could not play some role, especially if they innovate into new forms, new platforms.

By definition, answering questions and being helpful with content is not a viable business strategy because there are no entry barriers for your competitors. Everybody can copy you. That’s not a strategy. That’s a tactic.

UNLESS — You flood the market with so much quality content that it is not economically feasible for your competitors to pay the price of having their content be discovered. Ironically, the only competitive advantage you have Marcus is pushing that content saturation point and CREATING Content Shock for your competitors, right?

For you and other market leaders, Content Shock is not the problem, it is the solution.

One other nuance on this point. The definition of content marketing you have here is not accurate, even for your own consulting business. Attracting inbound leads by answering questions may help sell pools but it has a more limited role in a person’s decision to hire you as a consultant. This is a very personal and potentially high-stakes decision. I am not going to hire you for this role because you are answering questions. I am going to hire you for this role because I see you in action through videos, webinars, posts, etc. and have established an emotional connection with you and a level of trust that can lead to human connection and loyalty.

So my definition of content marketing (for my business at least) is not centered on teaching but on building engagement that creates emotional connection and loyalty resulting in business benefits. Now, using content in that way WOULD be strategic. It would be very special indeed but getting increasingly difficult to accomplish.

Finally, I would like to thank you for teaching me something. On your final point about driving content creators out of business I did a double take. That is not what I intended to say at all in my post, but sure enough that is exactly what I had written. So I was wrong to state it that way and I have since amended the original post to more accurately reflect my sentiment that content creators will have to adapt, not dry up.

Thanks for continuing the dialogue with this excellent post. For the record I do not have a “bleak view” of content marketing. I have an exuberant view! I ended the post wondering “what’s next …” It is not ending. It is just beginning, but it is going to certainly evolve.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2014 at 11:48 am

Mark, this was great, thanks for jumping in.

I honestly feel you and I could debate this topic all day, in fact, I hope it’s something we get a chance to do on stage with an audience at some point, because it’s a debate that’s not going away. Everything from “what is content marketing” to “the efficacy of teaching/answering questions” is something we need to verbalize in a setting like that.

Let’s try and see if we can make that happen in the future, I think it would be beneficial to all.

Again, thanks for being a friend and such a thoughtful person.

Marcus

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Vincent Messina February 8, 2014 at 9:37 am

Hello Mark,

I was only recently introduced to you through this debate. That said, I already can tell you are a smart dude. So, all due respect, no insult intended in my pursuit of the best answers.

I am not a thought leader. I follow you all to gain valuable insight that will help me help my clients. My clients are professional service providers, dentists, accountants, lawyers etc etc.

I just got introduced to this debate and because I turn to guys like you and Marcus for insight. I have a few questions.

When you wrote this:
“One other nuance on this point. The definition of content marketing you have here is not accurate, even for your own consulting business. Attracting inbound leads by answering questions may help sell pools but it has a more limited role in a person’s decision to hire you as a consultant. This is a very personal and potentially high-stakes decision. I am not going to hire you for this role because you are answering questions. ”

… in my opinion you are saying what I believe. To answer any of these questions you have to fill in the blank, “It is mandatory that you follow this principle if you are trying to _____.*

Some of the things you folks write about don’t apply to the average dude trying to make a living. I think Marcus resonates with that dude.

Surely you understand my point. You made the same point. Your goals and objectives, plus the situation you find yourself in, largely determines if any of this debate, or any marketing or sales principle applies.

That said, from a pure mechanics perspective, what impact, in your opinion, does any of this shock debate on a local business, say a lawyer, trying to enhance their online marketing performance?

Also note, there are at least 10 pool guys in my area who don’t even know what a blog is, let alone content shock. Every single one of them would greatly benefit from following Marcus’s advice. Every single one of them would feel hopeless and intimidated if they thought, by reading your thoughts on the subject, all was lost.

I am not interested in joining this debate as a peer. I am interested in joining the discussion purely from a learning perspective. My goal is to figure out HOW THINGS WORK.

With that, can you distinguish between the principles that apply for a global thought leader and a local business professional trying to enhance their performance a bit? I am asking in a sincere quest to distinguish the concepts for my clients.

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Mark W Schaefer February 10, 2014 at 8:39 am

Vincent, Thanks for your sincere comment and urgency to learn. I assure you that I just a regular dude trying to run a business too. : )

You bring up a lot of good questions here. I recently wrote a post to address these specific concerns and I think it would really help you. The post is here: http://www.businessesgrow.com/2014/01/27/best-content-rise-top/

If this does address your questions, please feel free to write me directly mschaefer700 at gmail dotcom and would be happy to do my best to add a further opinion.

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Vincent Messina February 10, 2014 at 8:52 am

Hello Mark,

I have actually spent some time on your follow up article and really believe it to be more to the point than your original article. Very helpful insight for sure.

I wrote an opinion on the entire discussion, having read both your articles, this article by Marcus, and a few others that weighed in. In writing my own contribution, I answered a few questions that lingered.

http://www.otimollc.com/sales-and-marketing-blog/content-shock-what-we-the-obscure-can-learn-about-shocking-content

Still, because I don’t fly the “content marketer” colors on my flag, I am not convinced that an economic model is the right model to use in this example.

That said, you are more than likely a few points higher than me on the IQ scale, and are clearly more recognized as a man who knows what he is doing. So I very humbly wrote the opinion piece, giving you the respect you deserve, and have earned, across a number of points.

Thanks for taking the time to weigh in here. I appreciate it.

P.S. I would really see it as an honor if you took a few minutes to read my piece, and lend your thoughts to it. My blog as a whole would become a lot more interesting for it.

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Serges January 22, 2014 at 10:28 am

Case in point to show the effectiveness of content marketing without all of the hype and who’s philosophy is right or wrong:
My wife had a leaky faucet she wanted to repair
Went on line, searched on Google (as we all do now)
How to repair a (make & model of faucet)
Out of the returns she got, one of them showed they had a video on how to repair.
She went to that website, watched the video.
This business also sold parts for faucets
Guess what, because they freely answered questions that they know there customers were asking, they gained a customer.
Last time I looked plumbing is a very saturated industry, so if this business stopped content marketing because they heard it is going out of style they would not of come up in the Google search.
So where does “Content Shock” fit into this?
I would venture to say that the majority of consumers follow a similar path as I just described, I know I do.
You search, find the site that is the most transparent, answers the questions you have and that business most likely will have gained a new customer.
Maybe I’m oversimplifying but that’s my opinion.
I for one will not stop any time soon on Content Marketing!
Believe me, I’m not Content Marketing guru by any stretch of the imagination, but I know the content marketing works.

Serges

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2014 at 11:44 am

Excellent example Serges, and one that is happening all over the world, right this very second. And I don’t think that’s going away anytime soon.

Continued success!

Marcus

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Darnell Jackson January 22, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Good post Marcus,

“Most businesses don’t care about audiences, they just want customers”

I think you nailed this point.
This is why businesses and blogs fail.

This is also why the niche brands, blogs, and products that are killing it right now are thriving. They “have time fo dat” when it comes to using content to cultivate an audience and then converting these people into customers. GoDaddy is a great example.

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Vincent Messina February 8, 2014 at 9:18 am

YES!!! This is what I think, well, hope is the truth! To me, when you read what the celebrity experts are writing, you have to filter it by filling in the blank, “This concept or principle is mandatory for anyone trying to _____.”

If you want to be a global thought leader, some of these bigger concepts make sense. If you want to run a business, follow Marcus Sheridan’s advice.

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Christian Newman February 8, 2014 at 10:24 am

I recently unsubscribed from one of those “thought leaders” (I hate that term). Twitter, podcast, everything. This person seems to care more about being a thought leader than about helping real people with real world problems. I just could not relate.

Marcus keeps it real. That, I can relate to.

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Sheryl Kurland January 22, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Regarding your point about “why people quit reading a blog”…in addition to the obvious — it’s gotten boring — sometimes I outgrow a blog. I no longer have a need for the topic, i.e., my business has grown beyond the “business stage” the blog focuses on or I have now mastered the skills it covers. But, Marcus, I have to tell you, your blog is always awesome. I think I’ve really gotten attached because I started reading just before some big leaps happened for you. You always keep it real, good or bad.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2014 at 11:43 am

Sheryl, you’re one of the kindest people in the world I think :) And I sure hope we’ll meet “IRL” at some point it 2014, it’s overdue! :-)

Smiles,

Marcus

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Wendy Komancheck January 22, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Thanks, Marcus, for another great article. I’m kind of in the middle–I’ve experienced content shock by the sheer number of e-newsletters that I get in my inbox–all because I signed up for them. But, I started unsubscribing to some of them (not yours, of course) because they weren’t worth my time–and not because they didn’t have great content. I just had to prioritize what I wanted to read and who will bring me the most valuable information for my limited time.

And I’m a teacher at heart and I love teaching the folks in my industry the value of good marketing and where writing falls into that plan. I definitely agree that it boils down to good listening skills, good communication, and an ability to teach.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2014 at 11:27 am

Hey Wendy, great to hear from you and thanks for your thoughts here. No doubt, I think anyone that subscribes to blogs (and lots of them) like you and me have gone through or are going through a “filtering” phase of sorts as we all try to find balance in what we spend our time on.

Either way, these are interesting times, and I appreciate your support of the blog here :)

Marcus

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Jeff Simmons January 23, 2014 at 12:56 am

Content shock? What a crock!

To be sure, there IS a glut of content from content marketers preaching content marketing to other content marketers.

But try asking B2B salespeople if they have enough content. What I hear them say is:

“We continually send out material that is outdated and has a lot of irrelevant information”

“We do not have someone creating new marketing material for our customers or for tradeshows.”

“We need someone who could continually update our website and LinkedIn page, or create a blog that continually reaches out to our customers and prospects.”

“Receiving some warm leads every once and a while would be extremely helpful and would make our jobs seem a little less daunting.”

Doesn’t sound like content shock to me.

The truth is, we haven’t even scratched the surface in the B2B space.

The only “industry” that’s suffering from content shock is the content marketing industry. Fortunately, most of us aren’t competing with Mark Schaeffer, Barry Feldman or Jay Baer :)

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2014 at 11:23 am

Very good points Jeff. In the world of B2B, oh boy, we’ve got a longgg way to go before we even come close to a high CSI. It’s still the wild west out there, no doubt.

Hope you have a great weekend Jeff,

Marcus

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Mark A Carbone January 23, 2014 at 5:52 am

Great article Marcus.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2014 at 11:21 am

Appreciate that Mark. :)

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Ryan Law January 23, 2014 at 7:36 am

This is definitely the best response to Content Shock I’ve had the pleasure of reading – you’ve managed to drill-down through Mark’s hyperbole, and unearthed the most truthful tenets of his theory. As you point out, above all else, Mark’s post is an incredible case study in the efficacy that content marketing still has!

If you’re interested in a response that tackles the Economic side of his argument, I’ve written my own post – and whilst it’s a more emphatic, and arguably less balanced retort, it does draw upon my experiences as an Economics graduate and content marketer! If it’s of any value to you, I’d love for you to include a link to it in your post.

http://contendercontent.com/5-reasons-content-shock-unbelievably-stupid/

Thanks for writing such a well-informed response – and I’m glad the irony of Content Shock’s stellar performance hasn’t been lost on everyone!

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2014 at 11:21 am

Ryan, really appreciate your thoughts here bud and your article as well. Quite a compliment to what I’ve said.

Wishing you continued success,

Marcus

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Pawan sai January 23, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Good artcile Marcus
i don’t know how much time you spend time on writing this article, It given wonderful and i got to know the reason why certain blogs fail.

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Craig McBreen January 27, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Marcus,

I’ve read Mark’s post more than a few times, as well as Sonia’s excellent follow-up piece, the scholarly contrarian post by Shel Holtz, as well as the the discussion between Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose on their fine podcast, but I can honestly say this is about the best response to the Content Shock argument and it will definitely resonate with a lot of people.

I really like Jeff’s response in the comments too. I don’t think Mark’s post is a crock though … Mark is pretty amazing at getting a conversation started and like you say, the piece “represents everything that is great about the digital age.” So cheers to Mark for another great one! But I do like this: “The truth is, we haven’t even scratched the surface in the B2B space.” Oh, man is that the truth. Most companies are just getting a whiff of this content marketing thing, says glass half full guy.

Yes, content will continue to explode, but knowing your audience and producing like a “rainmaker” (thanks Sonia Simone) will kick Content Shock in the chops :)

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Tom Repp January 28, 2014 at 10:36 am

Just as a few industrial marketers (the market I serve) start to become comfortable with the concept of content/inbound marketing, a well-respected, industry expert trumpets, “content marketing is not a sustainable strategy”. Wow!

Well…you’re your rebuttal is right Marcus. Particularly for the industrial market…quality trumps quantity. For the industrial buyer or engineer, great, helpful content that is well done will be consumed by a grateful prospect. The great producers of content will be the winners. Just as the great sales organizations are the winners.

You could use Schaefer’s theory on industrial sales, industrial advertising, industrial trade shows, etc. The good stuff always bubbles to the top and is consumed by our customers. Further, because industrial marketers have such a long list of long-tail keywords and subjects to attract readers…the opportunity is as ripe as ever.

I agree, “Content Shock” is simply an evolutionary stage.

“Tom Repp”

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Vincent Messina February 8, 2014 at 9:13 am

Your first paragraph is an echo of what was in my head when I started reading this debate. I serve professional service providers, many of who have no idea what content marketing is, never mind the concept of content shock. The experts make our job a little harder sometimes when they make the possible seem impossible or the practical seem hopeless. Like your blog too man.

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Mark W Schaefer January 28, 2014 at 10:52 am

There have been so many comments and posts around the web that it has been difficult for me to keep up and answer them all completely. Although I addressed one key issue in my comment below, I took a more careful and thorough approach in this blog post: http://www.businessesgrow.com/2014/01/27/best-content-rise-top/

If you ro readers have questions about my positions, this should answer them (I hope!). Thanks Marcus.

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Ramu February 4, 2014 at 5:35 am

Nice information. I was searching for the same. It helped me alot and saved my time. Thanks

alot. sas online training .

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Christian Newman February 4, 2014 at 8:40 am

It’s like saying there are too many TV channels, or podcasts.

People only have so much time. People are smart, though. They will choose which streams of content are most relevant and meaningful. They will choose the content that provides them the greatest value.

If your content is awesome and discoverable, – in short, valuable to your audience, you have nothing to worry about.

If one of these two are missing, then you better get moving.

Christian

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Mireya February 5, 2014 at 10:30 pm

In my blog The Political Slant, I almost always try to hyperlink to an authoritative
source. Are you fed up with people telling you that if
you run a business, you should be blogging.

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Imtiaz Ali March 1, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Great tips on content marketing! Thanks for sharing :)

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