Think Like a Golfer To Create a Winning Content Strategy

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Do you play golf?

I don’t, but I’m intrigued by one thing: The goal of golf is to play the least amount of golf.

Think about it. The winner is the person who swings their clubs the fewest times.

A smart content strategy should work in a similar way.

Last week, I talked with a B2B technology firm in a workshop. We discussed how the B2B buyer’s journey is more complicated these days. Four to five people (registration) make up a committee that does all their research independently. It’s not uncommon for these groups to end up with more than 50 pieces of content to inform their decision.

The interesting part is the question of differentiation. Increasingly, your goal as marketing practitioners is not to differentiate at the “Google Search state” and get the prospect to download your thought leadership. Your goal is to differentiate your company from that stack of content that the committee sifts through.

So, yeah, the content team’s standard operating procedure is, well, more. More content is the answer.

Is more content the answer?

My clients often tell me they feel the content marketing team creates too much content. They say things like: “Everyone wants more content, but so much of what we create is wasted.”

At first, that seems counterintuitive. If they’re wasting content, why don’t they just produce less?

Suggest that, and you’ll get this pushback: “If we produce less, we might waste a smaller amount. But everyone still wants more.”

But here’s what all that really means. When the team provides a fire hose of content, there’s too much waste, but everybody’s thirst is quenched. When the content team gives a garden hose of content, fewer assets go unused, but everybody still feels thirsty.

And now, with AI, you really have the ability to push more water through whatever size hose you have.

This challenge isn’t confined to content marketing. It happens in modern marketing planning, too. Everyone in B2B marketing and sales seems to think they need more. More content. More marketing. More leads. More opportunities. More sales.

More always seems better or at least less risky. So, many content and marketing teams build their strategies to answer the question: “How do we get more?”

But here’s the dirty little secret of content in business: “More” is never enough. It does not matter how big your team is; more will never be enough to win the game of content.

It took me a long time to figure out this content marketing conundrum. When I’d tell people more isn’t the answer, they’d ask, “Then how much content should we produce?”

My old answer was, “As much as you think you can be great at.”

I used to think you should deliver as much content as you can while maintaining the quality standards you’ve set (assuming you’ve set any.)

But that advice is wrong.

If the question of how to get more content drives your strategy, your strategy is doomed. You’ll never produce enough.

The better question comes from golf: How can you create more aces, eagles, and birdies?

In other words, how little is enough to win the game?

Do just enough

Any great concert, television series, movie, or novel makes the audience wish it would go on. They’re engaged, they’re moved, and they want more.

Many great experiences come in shorter packages. The Great Gatsby is just 180 pages long, and the film Casablanca lasts only 100 minutes. The amazing TV series Better Call Saul ended after six short seasons (13 episodes each).

Though the audience wanted more, the creators told stories exactly as long as they needed to be.

But how many times have you come away from a series saying, “That was pretty good, but it could have been three episodes instead of eight?” That’s a classic symptom of defaulting to more.

That’s not to say long content or a lot of content can’t be effective. War and Peace wouldn’t be War and Peace if it weren’t 1,200 pages.

However, I’ve found content and marketing teams feel most effective when the culture focuses on knowing how much is enough instead of chasing more.

Think about it like this. Whenever I talk to content marketing teams, they view it like this, “Oh, we need to produce four blog posts this month. That means we need to have four distinct ideas and write four articles of 1,500 words each. Let’s assign a resource to that.” 

Perhaps they should look at it like this: “We have four stories to create, and each one will be as long as it needs to be. And the third story may be big enough that it would be better served as a two-parter, so we’ll really only have three blog posts to create this month.”  

In a perfect world, creative content workers would spend less time assembling content and more time thinking of innovative and remarkable content to create.

In most businesses, though, it works the other way around. Content teams get stretched thin, fulfilling all the requests for too many projects. They can’t assemble digital assets fast enough to keep up with the firehose of requests.

Here’s the punchline: Nine out of 10 times, an audit reveals that my clients aren’t producing too much content but creating too many digital assets. I suggest they stop filling everyone’s days with assembling and producing assets.

Instead, I tell them to figure out which content will be enough.

Drive and putt for impact

Now when clients ask how much content they should produce, I tell them this: If you want to win at content marketing, produce as little as you need to get the impact you want.

Don’t aim to produce overwhelming amounts of content even if you can and even if it’s great. Instead, aim to produce just enough to deliver the intended value and create the behavioral change you seek.

Get through the course in as few swings as possible.

Don’t ask, “How do we create more?” Instead, ask, “What is enough?”

That question forces you to define an objective — an impact — to create and measure. It also forces you to define “enough.”

Enough to what? Enough content to create 10% more leads? Enough to acquire 1,000 subscribers? Enough to satisfy the sales enablement team with the budget you have?

Once you define “enough,” it’s game on for content golf. Play as little as you need to win. Focus on bringing your best game.

Let’s get to work on your swing.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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  1. Your blog is a testament to your dedication to your craft. Your commitment to excellence is evident in every aspect of your writing. Thank you for being such a positive influence in the online community.

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