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Why killing your content marketing makes the most sense

by Mary Sewell

30-second summary:

  • Most marketers diversify their content programs too quickly, endangering the program from the start
  • Successful content marketers and media companies focus on fewer platform channels
  • Instead of adding more channels, killing off underperforming channels works better
  • Perform a content audit to find out tracks in which you should stop creating content

The problem is, simply put, out of control. Just because a company or individual can create and distribute content on a platform doesn’t mean they should. But it’s happening… and it’s killing content marketing strategies around the globe.

I’ve had the opportunity to analyze content marketing strategies from huge brands, desperately trying to build audiences online leveraging content marketing. In almost every case, each one made the same mistake.

They diversify too quickly.

Let me explain.

When an organization decides to fund a content marketing strategy, the initial stages are always exciting. Just deciding which audience and content niche to target is an exhausting process, but once complete, the company is ready to create content…everywhere.

Should we do a blog? Check. How about a YouTube video series? Yes, to that. Podcast? Sure. TikTok series? Why not. Email newsletter? I guess so.

Then add about five other social media channels, and you have yourself a content marketing strategy.

Just not a good one.

According to Content Marketing Institute research, the average enterprise creates content between 14 and 16 different platforms. Succeeding in this kind of strategy is like winning the lottery. It just won’t happen.

Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

One channel. One content type.

The most excellent audience-building entities of all time selected one primary channel in which to build their platform:

  • Financial Times—printed newspaper
  • Fortune—printed magazine
  • TED Talks—in-person events
  • ESPN—cable television programming
  • Huffington Post—online magazine format
  • The Joe Rogan Experience—podcast show

PewDiePie—YouTube series

Even in today’s age of social media, content empires start with one platform as the core base of operation and primarily deliver content at that one place over time to build an audience.

For my new book ‘Content Inc.‘, we interviewed and analyzed more than 100 individuals and small businesses who went from zero subscribers to a massive audience. After two or three years, these content empires became multi-million-dollar platforms.

The exciting part is that they didn’t diversify immediately but focused on delivering consistently valuable content, primarily on one channel and one content type, choosing audio, video, or text plus images.

Ann Reardon from ‘How to Cook That’s decided to create consistent videos and distribute them on YouTube
Philip Werner from ‘com‘ creates and delivers a text-plus-images blog post every day on his WordPress-developed website.
Wally Koval from ‘Accidentally Wes Anderson‘ distributes one image per day on Instagram, including incredible textual detail describing the location

But these are the exceptions. Most content marketing strategies run short-term blitzes (sometimes called campaigns), diversifying before the proper time.

Content marketing strategy is about saying “no.”

When you decide to employ a content marketing strategy to build a loyal and trusting audience over time, you must choose not to create and distribute content in certain places.

But what if you are already on multiple platforms? If you already have a content marketing strategy, now is probably the time to start killing some of your channels.

We always want more. We believe more is better. When launching a new content effort, “master of none, jack of all trades” never, ever works. How did Amazon become the most valuable company in the world? For three years, the company sold only books. Once they perfected that model, only then did they begin selling other things. A proper content marketing strategy behaves the same way.

Successful content initiatives work because they start their journey with one awesome newsletter, one fantastic video series, one unique in-person event, or one fantastic blog rather than 100 randomized content pieces that don’t inspire any kind of behavior change. There is something about focus. There is something about being genuinely remarkable at one thing. The problem is that it requires you to choose. It requires you to stop creating content everywhere and focus on what’s really important, what will really move the needle.

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