I sat on the green shag carpeting and watched in disbelief. I’d been watching Happy Days my entire life and was very invested in it. But now, not only was Fonzie on water skis, but he was still wearing his leather jacket. I remember thinking, “What happened to my show?”
The Fonz jumped a goddamn shark!
Many of the young people won’t know anything about Happy Days or its place in many of our hearts. But the phrase, “jumped the shark” has a fairly well-known meaning. If you don’t know it, it means that something that was once important is over or has reached the beginning of the end.
I’ve seen a few articles on the web talking about the end of content marketing as we know it. But, people have been saying for years that people will get overloaded on it and there will be diminishing returns as the volume of content grows.
While we can say there is almost an overwhelming amount of content available, can we say it’s too much?
Has content marketing jumped the shark?
The worst thing I could do is make you read for 8 minutes before finally revealing what I think. I hate that. If you think content marketing has reached the end of its usefulness, you’re assuming that most people are doing it right.
Most people and companies aren’t using it to its fullest potential.
I’ve been studying and using content marketing to help businesses for quite some time now. It’s a wonderful way to break through the noise that traditional advertising creates.
You start by providing value instead of jumping straight to the hard sell. There is selling involved, that’s the whole purpose of marketing, but it’s not shoved down the throats of consumers. You sell only after you have delighted them and they are satisfied with what you have to offer for free.
Businesses have made a lot of headway. They are starting to see the value of creating great content. Everywhere I look I see wonderful articles published and blog posts, well, posted.
To give you an idea of how content marketing should be done, consider three examples. One thing you should know is all three websites, and the related businesses, make money. They are not just handing out awesome content. They all have the formula down-pat and are killing it.
Backlinko.com — Brian Dean started Backlinko and has been providing excellent content about SEO for quite some time. He knows the value of providing blockbuster content! Do a search on Google for anything related to search engine optimization, and most likely Backlinko or Brian Dean will appear at the top of the results. He knows that giving away his best content brings people by the thousands to read his epic articles. He’s also figured out that when you delight your reader, they will be willing to buy anything you ask them to at any time.
Neil Patel — Neil Patel is a legend is the digital marketing space. His stellar content drives people to NeilPatel.com and Quicksprout.com. Like Brian Dean, he provides value, and his readers are willing to buy anything he creates. You could learn everything you needed to know about content marketing by studying Neil and his websites.
SmartBlogger.com — Jon Morrow is the person you have to visit if you want to learn how to blog and you want to make money by doing it. Jon and his team live and breathe good content, and they have a reputation for providing value. Jon makes a whole lot of money by subtly marketing to his thousands of loyal readers.
All three are doing content marketing the right way! They all give away their best content because they know that satisfying their readers will provide them more customers in the long run.
Who is doing it wrong?
If I were to list all the businesses on the web making huge mistakes in their content strategy, it would never end. Besides, I am not that much of a jerk to call out people who are trying to make a living the best way they know how.
If they listened, I would send an email to each one outlining what they need to change, but everyone thinks they’re doing it right. They blame an unsuccessful streak on other things like being in the wrong niche or not having enough traffic. Most niches will work if the right things happen at the right time and traffic will come if you have a good content strategy.
Instead of sending all those emails, the best thing to do would be to provide a few tasty content marketing nuggets. They will help everyone and their businesses be successful and make a ton of money!
Provide long-form content
If you look at the blog posts of the three examples above, you will see that most of their content weighs in over 3000+ words. Some are even as much as 7000+ words. I would also bet that if you read it, you will find no filler. It’s all unbelievable value!
They don’t start off trying to hit 7000 words, but they cover a subject so thoroughly that it turns out that way.
You will also notice they don’t post every day. Creating content that awesome takes time and they don’t rush the process. I know Jon (SmartBlogger) only posts one article a month!
Pick a popular subject and research it completely. Explore all parts of the topic. Create something that is much better than what everyone else is writing. Your audience won’t bother leaving your website.
That’s killer content!
Mix it up!
Brain Dean does this very well, as does Neil Patel. You will notice that instead of writing some specific details in a post they create a video to take a closer look. You can say many things about the content they create, but it is never boring. People are more likely to stay longer if you provide video. It’s a fact!
Some people who wouldn’t think of reading a 10,000-word whopper of a post wouldn’t blink at watching a 15-minute video!
Audio is another way to inform or entertain your audience, especially if you provide a way they can download it to their phone and listen to it later. Making an effort to provide a 15-minute audio file of your post goes a long way toward providing extreme value to your future customers.
Be subtle with your marketing messages
You will notice in the three examples that they are subtle with their call to actions. Nowhere will you find a “buy this!” button or block of ads.
They prefer to drive you to an email signup form by providing a freebie. PDFs, white-papers, and mini-courses are all things you can provide for free in exchange for the privilege of sending them an email once in a while.
An email list is a much better place to make an offer. If you don’t fill your awesome content with marketing messages, they will be more than grateful. And they will let you pitch them a product they need through email anytime you wish.
Traditional marketing with banners and ads is dead because people by default ignore them. Pop-ups are another thing I’m glad to see dying as well.
If your monetization strategy involves ads, you might want to rethink it.
Repurpose on all channels
If you’re smart, you will realize that one piece of content can create many pieces which you can share on your social media channels. A blog post can turn into a video on YouTube, or an audio transcript can be shared on SoundCloud.
Quotes from your blog post can a turn into graphics using Photoshop or Canva and can be shared on Instagram or Facebook.
If you only explore one topic every month, you can create many pieces of content that can be distributed to all your channels or assets. Repurposing is the best way to get the most out of a blockbuster idea for a topic.
Content marketing is here to stay
We’ve covered a lot of ground. But the takeaway from all this should be there are still many ways to use content marketing to generate sales and revenue for your business.
It’s not as sexy to talk about content marketing as it once was. But it’s what I suggest to businesses when they want a low-cost alternative to expensive traditional marketing. Lately, it’s cool to bad-mouth it, even though it works for millions of people and businesses around the world.
If you are wondering if content marketing has jumped the shark, the answer is no.
Did you like this? Sign up for my newsletter on Substack!
Jason Weiland is a writer, blogger, vlogger, and mental health advocate living a dream life in far-away destinations he only dreamed of as a kid. He talks about difficult issues but has never lost his sense of humor or willingness to understand others and help when he can.
He would love to connect with you on social media.