Why is everyone starving for content?


Most of today’s customers begin their buying process by researching online — seeking out content in order to educate themselves. Yet much of the content they find is overly promotional or poorly thought out, even as the need for higher quality content continues to grow.


Content was “pretty much considered a commodity three years ago,” according to Beth Maxwell in a Hubspot article from November, 2013. Today, the demand for quality content far outstrips supply. Yet the value attached to that content is rising slowly — surprisingly so. How is that possible? Could the market for quality content simply be dysfunctional? More importantly, what are the implications for businesses that are trying to promote their products and services on the Web?

The New York Times and other high quality content sites have put up online pay walls, and millions of paying customers are anteing up, proving them right. But how valuable has content become to businesses as they search for new customers? Where are they finding their content? Are businesses even using content correctly? An excellent article by journalist Beth Stackpole, The Content Conundrum: Everyone wants quality but nobody wants to pay, attempts to provide some answers.

[most customers] were looking for cheap Search Engine Optimization (SEO) copy that would drive traffic to their site and they didn’t care much about quality or the pedigree of the writers. “They weren’t looking for established writers. […] That started to change about a year ago when companies recognized that prospective customers do a whole lot of research before going to a website. Thus the real requirement is for higher quality content that educates. And content plays a role far earlier in the buying process.

If demand were the barometer for market value, you would think high-quality content and the talent to produce it would be worth its weight in gold. But until recently, content has been viewed as a bargain-basement business, with a lot of companies simply unwilling to pay much for the stuff they put on their websites. That’s changing, however, as companies have discovered that cheap content is often lousy content, and lousy content doesn’t accomplish anything.

In other words, you get what you pay for. That’s one reason why companies are increasingly seeking out smart material with strong storytelling. Corporations have developed a big appetite for material to stoke the content marketing machine and win the hearts and minds of customers.

…[The competitive landscape] started to change about a year ago when companies recognized that prospective customers do a whole lot of research before going to a website. Thus the real requirement is for higher quality content that educates. And content plays a role far earlier in the buying process.

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