In Defense of Medium Quality Content
January 28, 2018
There’s a movement taking hold in content marketing circles that every piece of content marketers produce must be of high quality. This movement believes that quality is more important than quantity.
I’m not here to dispute that concept. I believe that quality blog posts, ebooks, videos and other content are table stakes. You can’t play the content marketing game without producing content that is worth consuming and sharing. Your content must attain a certain threshold of quality — it must be useful or entertaining or both.
But the drumbeat for high quality may be scaring some marketers, who are beginning to fear that they have to hire Martin Scorsese to direct their videos. Or lure Joan Didion to make the prose of their blog posts sing.
No doubt, there’s a minimum standard of quality for content marketing, but what exactly is that minimum standard? We are going to make the case that the standards of quality can be fairly malleable — ranging from face-melting, mind-blowing content to the merely serviceable and useful.
This blog post we’re writing is in praise of the second kind of content: the merely useful and serviceable. Here are five reasons why this kind of medium-quality content can be essential:
Some content is just the facts
Marcus Sheridan, President of The Sales Lion, wrote an important book on content marketing titled, “They Ask, You Answer.” The premise of Sheridan’s book is that a crucial part of content marketing is essentially answering your customer’s questions, no matter how complex or simple those questions may be. And some of those questions are very simple. For instance, at River Pool and Spas, where Sheridan first put into practice “they ask, you answer,” a recent post was titled, “How Much Does Resurfacing a Concrete Pool Cost?” That’s hardly an earth-shattering blog post, but it is nonetheless a valuable piece of content — simply because it does answer a common customer question and also because it ranks high on search engines. The high-performing River Pool and Spas blog is full of such posts. Maybe your blog should be, too.
Some content is primarily for SEO
Oftentimes marketers create content that serves many purposes. For instance, it can answer customer questions, but at the same time, it can help with SEO. Driving higher search engine rankings is a critical task for content marketers, and writing what we’re calling medium quality content designed to answer customer questions and to rank for important keywords is sometimes a necessity. Again, not every piece of content needs to be an award-winner: It just has to be useful. And your content should be useful for prospects at all stages of the funnel and at every level of expertise. That means that some of your blog posts are going to be aimed at a beginner level prospect, where it may be a tall order to deliver high quality, face-melting content.
Content frequency can be as important as content quality
The advice to create higher quality content is often directed at content marketers who are already creating an ample amount of content. But I argue that the number of content marketers who are creating a sufficient amount of content is low. Content marketers have consistently identified producing enough content as one of their biggest hurdles, but frequency, just as it has always been in traditional advertising, is important. You want to be in your prospects’ minds as often as possible — particularly when they are getting ready to buy. The best way to ensure that is to be there with regular content that is answering your prospects’ questions — and answering as many of these questions as possible.
Completing content marketing projects is the only way to get better at them
Only after you hit publish can your prospects and customers see your content. And only after you hit publish can truly test whether your content works or not. Only by publishing content can you actually tell what level of quality it is — your audience's reaction will tell you. And only by publishing content and seeing what works and what doesn't, can you get better at the discipline of content marketing.
Publishing is better than procrastinating
In the end, waiting to perfect a high quality, mind blowing piece of content can be counterproductive. Sometimes it’s better to have a medium quality piece of content that has been produced and is being read, rather than to have a potentially great piece of content that still only exists on your desktop and is being edited to within an inch of its life. While you’re poring over revision after your revision, your prospects are reading someone else’s content that may not be perfect — but is perfectly serviceable. In the end, there is, of course, nothing wrong with striving to create the best content on the Internet — but to be effective, there are times when your content just has to be better than your competitors'.
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Photo: April Killingsworth