The Frustrating Challenge of Content
Over the summer, I hit a wall with my blog. I received emails from readers who enjoyed my writing, but upon further discussion learned that no one was implementing anything I wrote about (ouch).
“I haven’t implemented your advice, but your blog gave me a perspective to consider”.
A lot of work goes into blogging and content marketing. There’s keyword research, writing, editing, SEO, optimizing the piece for Average Session Duration, choosing a catchy title, creating a thumbnail image, and then promoting the content via email, social media, forums, and advertising.
But is all that worth it if no one is going to implement the advice? Plus with all the content already available, it’s hard to stand out; especially as a one-person team.
So what should one do?
Listening to Other Marketers
In an effort to apply principles of design thinking, I set out to spark conversations with other marketers and entrepreneurs. The question on my mind: what’s the point of doing content just to be like everyone else? Obviously answers like traffic, clicks, and conversation came to mind, but I wanted something more impactful.
My approach was very open and transparent. Instead of discussing familiar topics like Salesforce, Hubspot, and conversion rates, I started asking deeper questions about marketing as a profession. Here are a few themes I heard:
- “I tend to lose interest in the things I set out to do. Either the business I join doesn’t grow as fast as expected, or the management team sucks my energy away. When my energy fades, I start looking for the next project to tackle.”
- “It’s tricky to know what to do. I’ve been doing marketing about 6 years now and the whole theatre of it is leaving me jaded. I work on different businesses in hopes to find the industry I really care about, but each project leaves me feeling empty. Unfortunately, this means I tend to only stay at a job for 1-2 years.”
- “The sales and marketing scene is a mess. Everyone has their own opinion of how it should be done, yet everyone follows the same mediocre tactics online. No one is really talking about what it’s like to actually grow a business — we all just continue to chase our tails and buy into the same lies we spew. I try to find forums where people talk about the real side of marketing and sales, but everyone keeps filling the chats with fluff. It really bothers me.”
Building Strategy Around Observations
When it comes to business strategy, there are 2 popular approaches: (1) cost-saving — creating products for less and offering them at a lower price, or (2) differentiation — specializing in a particular field, improving quality and charging a higher price.
Next, strategists use 2 weighing criteria to determine whether or not the business should narrow its offerings further and go deeper into differentiation. These 2 criteria pieces are (1) the anticipated return on investment, and (2) the investment required. The idea is pretty simple: if the business idea requires too much investment (and you don’t have the financing), go deeper into your value proposition to specialize further in your offerings. Then you weigh the new offering against the criteria again. If the idea is both affordable as an investment and differentiates you enough to intercept your competitors, you’ve got a decent strategy.
Tying this back to the observations above, marketers have mixed feelings about their careers, the “theatre” of marketing, and the truth about how businesses actually grow. Could I create a whole blog around digital marketing, creating competitve how-to guides alongside marketing giants like Marketo or Hubspot? Unlikely given my current situation.
But what about the human side of marketing? The conflictions I feel? Reality and reflection? Could this be a better angle? From my small analysis, yes.
Right now I lack the time, money, and energy to aggressively pursue (and out-compete) my “content competitors”. They have larger teams, more resources, money for ads, dedicated staff for SEO, etc. Meanwhile, I work full-time, balance client work, am completing my MBA, and squeeze in time for the gym — it’s just too much.
Under this humane approach to content, I require less time to invest in keyword research. I need less time to research my topics and list my sources. I can write from my heart and experience as a working entrepreneur and marketer.
Put simply, this approach works for me.
Despite my happy attitude towards life, I secretly get really stressed out.
As a student of economics and a tech-heavy marketer, there are many sides to life that scare me. People can hire hitmen on the dark web. Global warming is causing more floods worldwide. The majority of the workforce is Millennials, yet they don’t have the spending power their Baby-Boomer counterparts did at the same age.
With all of that happening in the world, my career revolves around promoting and selling products; increasing an organization’s revenue — but there are many challenges associated with doing that.
Sometimes I lay awake at night worried about the world we’re leaving for future generations. What kind of life will my niece live?
I sought out counseling for my stress. I talked to friends, colleagues, mentors, and a wellness coach. Internalizing their advice, I feel the right thing to do is blog about the realities I experience with marketing.
My hope is to attract those who feel the same way and to assure them they’re not alone.