Here is the sneaky little secret of content marketing nobody likes to talk about. Often, to create an effective strategy, you don't have to produce the best content. You just need to be first in your niche, and overwhelming. Content saturation is a legitimate strategy.
Now let me address the "content purists" right away. I'm not saying quality is not important. It is, for many reasons, and if you have read this blog for a period of time, you know how hard I fight for quality in each and every post.
But if you dominate an un-saturated niche with loads of relevant content, chances are you will be dominating the search engine rankings too. In fact if you have been asleep at the wheel and your competitor has been creating content - even average content - for years, you might be feeling like it is "game over."
It is difficult to un-seat somebody in the search engines if they have saturated a niche, even if you are doing great work. But it's not hopeless. Let's look at a plan of attack if you are late to the content marketing game.
Winning in the face of content saturation
I recently faced this situation with a new client. They finally woke from their content slumber and discovered they were hopelessly behind their competitor. Literally, this other company had dominated every platform, every subject, every content style to the point where trying to compete against that content saturation seemed hopeless. They called me in to do content marketing triage.
This was one of the most difficult marketing challenges I have ever faced, which is why it was so much fun!
Here are four tactics I used to break open a new content niche and give this company some room to maneuver.
1. Focus on sub-categories
The competitor had done a wonderful job but had overlooked new demographic subsets who were coming into the market and were now using their products. When I did research on this segment, I found a wide open opportunity. The competitor had overlooked this group of consumers entirely.
So the idea became to dominate the under-served channels with amazing new content.
2. Different types of content
In a recent post, I described the "3H" pattern of content creation that leads to an engaged audience. You need a balance of these -
- Hygiene content that takes care of daily needs
- Hub content that grabs people and keeps them on your site
- Hero content that establishes your vision and authority
We discovered that the competition was focused almost entirely on hygiene content. Could we create something bigger, bolder, different from the competition?
The style of the competitor's content was formulaic. My customer laughed as I narrated one of the competitor videos with the same themes and images occurring over and over. It was repetitive and boring.
What would happen if we created something EXTREME?
3. Hit 'em where they ain't
When asked about his great success hitting a baseball, a famous American ballplayer once said, "It's easy. Hit 'em where they ain't."
It's the same plan for success in marketing. To stand out, you can't go to the same places and do the same things as your competitors. You have to hit 'em where they ain't.
And for my customers, that might mean podcasting. In this case, we discovered there was not one single podcast in their industry category. At the same time, their young target audience was a prime consumer of podcasts. Hello.
4. Focus on ignition
Here is the mistake most companies make. They check the box on content and then forget about "ignition." Content has no effectiveness if it doesn't MOVE. People have to see it, engage with it, share it - or you are simply wasting your money.
Here is something amazing I discovered. While this competitor was pumping out an endless supply of content, it was getting very few views, almost no engagement, hardly any shares.
This is a golden opportunity. What if we focused on content ignition? Maybe they had the race car, but we have the fuel.
As we looked at what it would take to build an audience and train our fans, retail partners, and employees to help with ignition, this seemed like a great opportunity in the face of a hopeless situation.
What does this mean to you and your saturated content niche?
Like any marketing strategy, this plan started with data and research. Strategy does not emerge from a Facebook page ... it is rises from digging deep to find insight and room to maneuver in the research. Before I had any notions for a plan, I spent weeks looking at every angle in the numbers.
I want to emphasize that there is no cookie-cutter answer for any company or any strategy. But I wanted to demonstrate that there ARE creative and niche opportunities for content marketing maneuvering even in seemingly hopeless situations.
I'd love to read your comments in the comment section. Where would you go to maneuver in a saturated content niche?
Illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Rob Ellis