Why the future of content marketing is value aligned resources

By April 16, 2015Content marketing

I recently talked about content marketing congestion. There’s never been so much content competing for the attention of your prospects. This piece dives deeply into how the content marketing space is changing, and an emerging way to cut through the congestion.

For a long time, we’ve thought of most content marketing as sitting somewhere on this spectrum:

Promotional to valuable

And generally most marketers will always advise clear separation, so you end up with something like this:

Promotional to valuable 2

It’s the old advertorial/editorial separation that comes from the newspaper journalistic traditions. Traditionally the recommendation you’ll hear here is staying with a 4:1 ratio. You want to target 4 pieces of value added content end for each one down the promotional end…

However, there’s an interesting movement happening away from the promotional/valuable spectrum.

What we’re seeing the best content marketers do now is operate in a matrix, that looks something like this:

Promotional valuable matrix

From above, here’s where the traditional blog and EDM sit:

Promotional valuable matrix 2

But this is where things get really interesting. Because the best content marketing is moving into the top right quadrant.

Promotional valuable matrix 3

We’re calling this quadrant “value aligned resources”. These are resources that are incredibly valuable to the reader, but are also highly aligned to your product/services – such that it’s hard to get full value from them without actually using your offer.

Here’s some good examples:

They’re all highly usable tools that deliver value for your readers. But at the same time, they’re very, very closely aligned to the use of your product (and much more so than a traditional blog post). You’re delivering value, but at the same time it’s almost impossible to separate this value from your brand.

Because they’re so inherently valuable for your prospects, these resources are very hard to ignore. For the same fundamental reasons, these resources also tend to rank very well with search engines.

The “value aligned resource” space is wide open in the B2B market at the moment. There’s hardly any content that truly sits in this space, and there are very real first mover advantages for brands that build early recognition here.

A quick caveat here in case this all sounds too good to be true. These resources take a long time to build. If you’re going to make something genuinely useful that’s aligned to your product, you can be looking at 5x the effort of a traditional blog or EDM. But I’d argue this effort is worthwhile if you end up with with your resource (and log0) up on your clients’ walls.