When I was a kid we watched 7 channels of TV. There were 3 networks (no Fox yet), 3 independent stations (more than in most markets), and PBS. By the time I had my kids we had many more channels available – Nielsen would tell you that by 1995 the average home had 45. Today the number is closer to 189 in the typical home and with all the movie and sports channels the number in my house is well over 300. That’s a lot of content and I consume only a fraction of what is available.
I bring this up today because I read an excellent study called The Content Marketing Paradox. You can read through the deck here. It was written by the folks at Track Maven and it was eye-opening. As the Research Brief folks summarized it:
The study found the output of content per brand increased 78% from the start of 2013 to the end of 2014, but content engagement decreased 60%. Brands are generating a higher volume of content per channel, but individual pieces of content are receiving fewer interactions
On social networks, brand-generated content is seeing the lowest engagement rates now than anytime in 2013 and 2014, and 43% of professionally marketed blog posts receive fewer than 10 interactions. Marketers are distributing more content on more channels, while simultaneously complaining about how hard it is to cut through the noise.
This was the most meaningful statement in the piece for me:
As channels have proliferated, technologies have emerged to help marketers more efficiently produce and broadcast content, which has in turn increased the total volume being generated. But as the data above show, marketers’ “more is better” approach is not an effective response to channel explosion. Stated differently, marketers are getting better at distributing content, but are not getting better at creating content worth distributing.
So ask yourself this: why are producing the content we are? Who is reading and interacting? What results have we measured? Most importantly, how is our relationship with our customers and with consumers as a whole being enhanced by our efforts? The silence may be deafening if the above data are to be believed. Maybe we’re just kidding ourselves?
Every once is a while someone tells me that they have a great idea for a business. Usually it involves a solution to some problem they’ve been experiencing or maybe it’s a better way to do something. Most of the time what they’ve come up with is, in fact, a pretty good idea. That doesn’t make it a business.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Part of what I do with my clients is work on their business models. In some cases we’ve turned their existing model on its head because the way they’ve addressed the problem makes no sense as a business even if the solution is viable. In other cases we’ve had to change the solution itself to make it appealing to investors or, more importantly, to consumers. The important thing is to solve the problem but to do so in a way that assures a return on the time and resources needed to do so. A business!
What questions do we ask? First, we identify the core problem we’re solving and figure out if there are, in fact, enough people experiencing the same pain that the business isn’t a one-hit wonder. We figure out how much it will cost to produce the solution and then how much the market will pay for the solution. This gets tricky because inevitably the founders think their product is worth a lot more than the marketplace does.
We figure out if the business is seasonal. We look into the universality of its appeal across geography. We discuss other dependencies – is it tied to weather or some other factor that is completely out of our control. Did you ever notice how many people who plow your driveway also are in the landscaping business? That’s eliminating the seasonality to an extent.
When I was figuring out what to do with my life after leaving the corporate world I had a series of honest discussions with myself about a few ideas I had. I came to the conclusion that most were not “A+” business ideas even though every one of them addressed a need and were a good idea. Not every good idea is a business, and not every business is based on a great idea. We don’t need to invent the mousetrap; we just need to make it better and more profitable. That takes time, common sense, and maybe even some help (hint hint). You in?
I suspect you watched the Super Bowl last night. Hopefully you did so all the way to the end and you witnessed the subject of today’s rant. For any of you who missed it, the Seahawks were driving and were on the 1 yard line, about to win the game. They just had to run it in and had 3 tries to do so (OK, maybe 2 since they only had one time out left). I’ll let the Times explain:
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A team with Marshawn Lynch, one of the best goal-line running backs in football, instead opted for a far riskier option, and Malcolm Butler made them pay, intercepting the ball at the goal line to effectively end the Seahawks’ hopes of winning a second consecutive Super Bowl.
Coach Pete Carroll took responsibility for the call after the game. So did his offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell. Whoever actually made the call, the decision joins an ignominious list of the worst coaching decisions in sports history.
There is a business point in that decision. Simply put, rather relying on the proven strengths of his team, the coach opted for trickery. Obviously, it backfired and they lost the game. It’s a good lesson for all of us. We invest a lot of time in building our team and our business. We come to realize over that time the things at which we excel and which help us win. Those are the things upon which we must rely, especially during crunch time. Trying “trickeration” may seem like a fine idea but it usually isn’t as good as doing what is known to work.
It wasn’t absurd to think of trying a pass play when everyone is expecting a run. What made it such a bad call was that the passing game hadn’t been particularly effective and the Seahawks had lived on Lynch’s running ability all season. Expecting him to run at you is not the same as stopping him and the Patriots hadn’t done so without at least a yard gained during the game very often. In business it’s not about what the competition is expecting. It’s not about trickery or fooling anyone. It’s about executing better than they do and producing a better product or service. Ask Apple.