It has never been easier to educate and market with content, but with this ease comes a major challenge. We are told content is king; we are told to create content … that we should be writing, doing videos, podcasting, etc.
I agree these are some of the most effective ways to capture the attention of your target market. But I’ve also witnessed first-hand how they can be a huge waste of time.
It’s All About Your Opportunity Costs
Those efforts can actually be opportunity costs — if there are other, more effective ways you could be selling to your market than creating content.
What other things could you be doing that would have more impact? I’ve seen people struggle with a daily piece of content when they were in desperate need of clients, leads or sales. It’s usually then when we get real and say, “Right now, where you are at this time, the most effective way for you to get someone signing on the dotted line is a face-to-face meeting.”
It’s at this time that all your efforts and time should be spent with this focus and then, after that, we refocus on content as there is still tremendous promise and opportunity in content marketing.
But if you are going to go down that road I believe you should follow this advice: I think it is imperative, now more than ever, that you make sure all your content is evergreen content.The challenge here is most of us are simply not natural-born writers or content producers, but these are important skills to have. To get good at them takes time and effort. The good thing about these skills is they seem to grow like a muscle — the more you do them, the better and stronger you become.
What Is Evergreen Content?
Evergreen content is content that never goes out of date.Sure we live in the information age, but people in any market will have specific questions for which they want good, useful answers. This is content that builds trust within your market, that is highly shared (time and time again) and has timeless usefulness.
The challenge these days is that too many people who don’t have the time or ability are spending too much time creating content that will have zero relevance within months.
It’s the Shelf Life That Matters
I’ve been thinking about this lately mainly because I’ve realized that in the near future the social landscape probably isn’t going to change. By that I mean that loosely connected social networks are here to stay and there’s a mobile device on everybody, 24 hours a day. Because of that I believe you should focus a good part of your content marketing on topics and stories that have a long shelf life.
Could I Share This in 3 (or More) Years?
I think this is a good question to ask (especially with the opportunity-cost glasses on). The time and effort it took me to write this is extremely valuable to me. Once I release it I know it will have a certain shelf life. Why wouldn’t I want that shelf life to be as long as possible?
For instance, when I mentioned the social landscape earlier, I could have broken down the most popular social networks. But what if you are reading this post 3 years from the date I wrote it? You would have instantly felt that it’s outdated, thus the advice and value would seem old and not worthwhile.
It’s also why if you look around on our site you don’t see any dates. Why put an arbitrary age value on what you’re currently reading? I believe what is written here will be relevant years from now.
But I Ain’t No Shakespeare
Your writing might not be as loved and treasured through the ages as Shakespeare’s, but what if it could be? What if the insight, the introspection, the ideas, the concepts were just as primal and true as the essence of the tales in Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet? Why couldn’t it be and why shouldn’t you strive for the same lasting value?
That’s the attitude that I think you should adopt as you write. How else are you going to get people to pay attention to your ideas and what you produce if you don’t put your heart into it? Putting your heart into it requires you to really answer the calling of a higher purpose in your writing.
Writing about the latest trends has the potential to drive temporary traffic. But I’m speaking to those who have more than enough to do when I ask, “Where should your effort be focused?”
There is too much importance attached to creating content for this moment when the focus should be on creating content that will live for years to come.
But the Market Demands It
I also realize that in many areas it’s important that you educate and inform on the latest trends, market moves, etc.
There is a time and place for that, but this is where I’m coming from … I am a huge consumer of content; I also engage with people quite a bit. More times than not, I see people pressed for time releasing content that has a shelf life of 2 to 3 months (or less). With an easy refocus, I believe they could take the same time and effort and produce content that will pay off longer. For topics and insights that have a short shelf life I suggest the use of social and real-time platforms.
I also see people struggle as they create content. If that’s you, don’t struggle to get something out that is going to be here and gone in a few months. If it’s a struggle, then focus your efforts on the core issues and values that your market will care about for years to come.
Here’s a Good Example
For instance, let’s just say you are a leadership expert. What if you wrote a piece titled The 7 Key Traits All Leaders Have and How You Can Gain Them Instantly. A huge promise, but I’m pretty positive that people interested in growing as leaders will not only care about those traits today but also in 10 years, maybe even 20 if you’ve captured them in a timeless way.
Imagine a piece of content that had a shelf life of 10 to 20 years. That’s why if content is at all a struggle then it’s pretty obvious what is worth your effort — a piece of content that discusses leadership traits with a latest trend or a piece of content that cuts to the heart and is timeless in its value.
Here’s Something to Try
Over the next few days as you go out and consume content, pay attention to what you read and ask yourself how you would classify the shelf life. Is it something that will last for years or something that is gone and forgotten?
Then look a little deeper. How many other pieces of content on the platform you are visiting have a short shelf life? For some places you’ll see quite a bit — and if they have a plan, a system, processes and the skill, this works. But I bet for many out there (and others in your market), you’ll find it obvious they could be using their time and effort in a more effective way.
Shakespeare image by tonynetone.
Evergreen trees modified from image by dherrera_96.