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Monetizing in the moment and the content marketing pivot

I have a secret.

The main reason I do The Marketing Companion podcast with Tom Webster is to be able to sit at his feet and learn from him. Of course he is also entertaining and hilarious but we have never had a single show when I felt like I wasn’t in school.

In a recent episode, he made a point that I think is particularly profound and relevant to content marketing today and it is worthy of unpacking with you a little deeper in this blog post.

The content annuity versus the content coupon

In a recent episode, we were discussing the dramatic changes that are occurring on the social web and the impact on content marketing.

Tom said that in this world of overwhelming information density, you basically have two choices if you are establishing a content-based presence on the web.

The first is based on the authority you accrue by creating exceptional content over a long period of time. Tom described this as an “annuity” that builds and pays dividends over a long period of time. Eventually, you gain enough capital with your loyal readers (or viewers or listeners) that they will hire you, pay you to speak, or buy a book, for example.

The other type of content investment is more like a coupon. Most organizations simply can’t keep pumping out exceptional content on an on-going basis, but they might be able to create exceptional content once in a while.

When that happens, Tom explained, you need to jump on that opportunity and sell, sell, sell in that moment.

Not only is Tom correct, I see it happening before my eyes.

The content marketing pivot

The path of least-resistance these days is to produce largely mediocre content but then do a blockbuster webinar, for example, that promises fame and riches in the up-sell. They are grabbing you in the moment of a “content high” and monetizing in the moment.

The reason this trend is so important, and saddens me actually, is because option number two — the content coupon — is rapidly moving to the forefront.

Let’s face it, five or six years ago content was still a novelty. You didn’t necessarily have to be that great of a content creator to get attention and even customers. You just had to be first on the scene.

Now with the amount of quality content exploding in so many industries, we are forced to consider other decisions, perhaps more desperate decisions, as we try to monetize and justify the content investment.

This is the way the world is going and I’m not sure I’m ready for that pivot.

In a recent issue of Esquire, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon said of his role on television “Once you understand and accept that it’s all about selling stuff, it gets easy after that.”

Content and cold calls

In this new reality, social media becomes more like TV, doesn’t it? On the social web I signed up for, you weren’t supposed to sell stuff. You built relationships. And I LIKE building relationships. I despise the high-pressure content up-sell but I see that is the way the world is going. And fast.

I’m haunted by a blog comment a long-time reader left on a post: “I’ve read your blog for years but I can’t any more. It’s not that I admire you any less or that your content isn’t great. It is! But there are just so many other distractions now that something has to give.”

Content Shock in action I suppose.

I wonder… Are we rapidly moving to a place where content can’t build relationships on the web any more? Is every piece of content simply an invitation to a cold call from a telemarketer?

Illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Herrikane