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Content marketing has peaked.

Look at the Google Trends timeline below, which shows relative search activity. September 2011 marked the beginning of a steep incline in interest. The buzz kicked into high gear in 2013, inched up in 2014, and hit a new ceiling this month. You can guess what’s to come.

Content marketing interest will decline.

Content marketing interest

Will the content marketing fire burn itself out?

I don’t believe it’s going down in flames, but yes, an enormous number of companies trying to do content marketing are bound to get burned. It happens when you play with fire.

Of course, like any competitive battlefield, your failures can trace to a huge array of reasons. If you insisted I were to identify a singular, predominant reason, it’d have to offer lack of commitment. (I gave you my opinion about this here.)

Again, where competition is fierce, what separates the best from the rest is commitment. Supremely successful content marketers do more than create great content; they ignite it.

All credit goes to the endlessly insightful author, speaker, professor and marketing consultant Mark Schaefer for this idea—content ignition. Here’s an excerpt from Mark’s “Beyond Content Shock: The Defining Trend of 2015 is Content Ignition.”

“The business imperative of finding a way to claw our way through information density is not only real, it is the most profound and important trend in the marketing profession — today, and for years to come.”

“Information density is like a hammer pounding on the marketing industry anvil. It will forge entirely new platforms, new advertising models, new content types. As we strain against the winds of the content hurricane before us, it will influence the nature of our jobs, the skills we need to compete, our budgets, and most certainly our strategies.”

Schaefer says great content is merely a starting point.

The forecast calls for marketing content

Marketing content. Notice how “marketing” comes before “content.” Note too, to achieve success, you must market your content after creating it.

I’ll quote Mark again, listing the three themes he says consistently surface in blog posts written to forecast what’s to come.

  1. Paying to get content viewed
  2. A need to focus on new content distribution strategies (see my “Amplify Content, Turn Up Demand” eBook offer below.)
  3. A move away from crowded places like Facebook and into less noisy channels

Are you making these mistakes?

Late last year, I was interviewed for a “Content Marketing Spotlight” feature published by Demand Media Content Solutions. Content marketing manager Emily Faget titled it “Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid.”

A good chunk of the interview addresses the theme of this post….

What are the biggest misconceptions brands have when they first move into the content marketing space?

Content marketing newcomers expect to see results quickly. They read, learn and get over-the-moon excited. They may even gain a decent understanding of the levers that power the content marketing machine, such as social, search, email and analytics.

However, they often conveniently hear what they want to hear regarding results. Things like “traffic… leads… word-of-mouth… authority…” Then while their heads are busy nodding, they miss the not-so-seductive part: this stuff takes time.

And that leads me to two related—and big—misconceptions among brands and agencies.

One: it’s cheap and easy to do content marketing. Wrong. And wrong again. It takes talent and commitment, just like anything else that’s truly valuable.

Two: a crazy content marketing wizard sprinkled some Field of Dreams dust on them, giving them the impression that great content automagically draws a crowd. But guess what? You have to market your marketing.

What about common mistakes for newcomers in the content marketing space?

Newbie content marketers often don’t:

  • Document a strategy.
  • Create a content marketing mission statement.
  • Creep around inside their target market’s heads and hearts.
  • Hire amazing talent to create the content.
  • Try anything original.
  • Grab their blog by the you-know-what and express a point of view.
  • Effectively repurpose content.
  • Master social media.
  • Network and forge meaningful relationships with influencers.
  • Analyze their results.
  • Respond to the analysis of their results.

What do you think will be the biggest shift in the content marketing space in the next year?

We’re in for an about-face in its popularity. I don’t mean content marketing will become unpopular. I mean we’ll see a separation between those committed enough to rock it and the pretenders. So content marketing will become less popular as the universal Kool-Aid it’s become this decade.

If a brand has only $1,000 to invest in content marketing strategy, how would you recommend they spend it?

I’d probably recommend that they don’t. But if they must, I’d suggest a piece of content that contains great answers to their most frequently asked questions. Then, package it as a web page, post, video, slide deck and/or webinar. In other words, create one piece of content and give it a long and meaningful life.

7 content ignition ideas

Mark Schaefer knows how feed the fire. When he wrote about “Content shock” (which was one of 2014’s hottest conversations), he wasn’t hellbent on booting your butt out of content marketing. He wanted to get you thinking. And when Mark came back with “content ignition” he aimed to start another interesting conversation.

He did just that. Comments poured in. Marketers created content to share their ideas for igniting successful content marketing initiatives. And Mark promptly followed with a great post, “12 Ideas to Ignite Your Content Now.” I’ll share some ideas based on it.

  1. Foster social sharing—You’re unlikely to achieve the credibility you seek alone. Aim to get customers talking about and recommending your brand by making it easy to share your content.
  2. Entertain—The majority of marketers play it safe. Their content is often humorless and predictable. Meanwhile, the most shared content inspires awe, laughter and amusement. Respond by having some fun with your stuff.
  3. Go deep—Mark says, “go long.” If you’ve been reading my posts (and watching my videos), you know I’ve been harping on the same theme saying, “go deep.” We mean the same thing. The proliferation of smaller devices does not suggest your content should be bite-sized. Longer, deeper, more researched, more valuable content wins the battle for attention, often earning more shares, and inevitably performing better on search.
  4. Rock your headlines—Being that I’m now in my fourth decade of headline writing, I’ve shared a lot advice on writing headlines, so I’ll point you to some of my posts on the topic. Whether you read them or not, remember, you’re looking to convert skimmers to readers. You succeed by writing headlines with stopping power.
  5. Think visual—Feature great images. Create and share infographics. Add video to your mix. Make your pages look beautiful.
  6. Lead your readers—You shouldn’t assume readers think “one and done.” If you’ve succeeded in getting people to your blog, and then, the final lines of your post, suggest further reading. Put a plugin or widget in place that serves the reader additional relevant content.
  7. Repurpose—No doubt you’ve read about the importance of repurposing your content for different media to reach new audiences. I hope you’re doing it often. And, in interesting ways.

HEADLINES: A 9-Letter Cheat Sheet for Writing a Winner Every Time

How Do You Write Powerful Headlines?

Oh, and one more immensely powerful suggestion

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: have a point of view. Wishy washy content won’t spread the way you want. Mark didn’t include this suggestion in his post, but he clearly understands its power. His work is urgent and fearless.

Don’t misunderstand content marketers sounding alarms about the common failures of common marketers. They’re not telling you to buzz off. They’re encouraging you to be the uncommon marketer that creates buzz.

Want to understand the many ways to amplify your content?

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