My son, a kindergartner, is learning how to read and write. He tends to rush through his assignments so he can move on to more important things, like recess. His teacher, on the other hand, is a big proponent of “quality work.” She encourages him to take his time. My husband and I (also supporters of quality work), make him slow down when we practice with him outside of school but, he doesn’t quite get it. In his eyes, if the assignment is accurate and complete, a little sloppiness doesn’t matter. Plus, he “wins” if he turns in the assignment first. Ah, the thought process of a six year old.
This recent focus on “quality” school work sparked a few thoughts about digital content. As marketers, we (for the most part) understand that our content has to be “good.” The problem? Our competitors know this too. Even if they lack a dedicated content marketing strategy, they recognize the value of good content and publish it on a regular basis. And to our dismay, sometimes their content is really good, maybe just as good as our own (admit it – there are a lot of smart and talented people in our industry!).
As a result, digital content channels have become oversaturated. Many of us have become “content machines” to keep up with the pace – because content is still King. These channels are noisy and, if we’re honest, most of the competitive content is basically saying the same thing in different words. Where is the value in spending all this time trapped in the midst of a virtual shouting match that hardly produces tangible results? At Catapult, we see this a lot with the B-to-B tech companies that come to us for help. They are doing a lot of the “right” things, but their content strategy has fallen flat because they sound just like everyone else.
We (Catapult) think it’s time to raise the standard for “quality content.” In the content world, that means taking an entirely different approach by looking through an industry lens to build our narrative. In other words, we need to lay off the talk about ourselves and our cool products and their unique features and look up higher – at the industry level. By owning a market category or process framework that is relevant to whatever industry we (or our clients) serve, we have the opportunity to develop and define a unique and meaningful narrative that will drive our content strategy.
Sound appealing? Take a closer look at your industry — what are the common perceptions and misconceptions? What are the challenges? What are the opportunities? If you ask enough of these types of questions you will uncover a Strategic Narrative that will shine through your content. When you look above the internal happenings of your own organization and dig into the industry you’ll start talking like a leader and there’s a good chance you’ll be noticed.
We all learn about the value of quality from an early age. And many of us strive to produce high-quality work on a daily basis. But when something good gets to the point of being overdone, it might be time to step it up and take a new approach.