In 1969 you could walk into a car dealership and get swindled. The dealer had all the information about the car and all you had was a glossy brochure and your sister-in-law’s personal endorsement. When the salesman said the car was safe, powerful and reliable, you didn’t have any counter-information. Hence, the salesman had all the information power and a whole generation of car-salesman-hating shoppers was born.

But now the balance of information power has shifted and consumers walk in often knowing more than the salespeople. Information is rampant. In fact, 27,000,000 pieces of content are shared every day. It’s so readily available, it’s not really valuable anymore. This presents a conundrum for marketers.

It’s not enough to just do content marketing. If you sell vitamin supplements, you might have content about health and fitness to attract the audience most likely to be interested in your product. The problem is that that internet is FULL, and I mean FULL, of content about health and fitness. So while your company is taking a viable, time-tested content marketing approach, it’s probably not working all that well.

The value is no longer in the information itself. It’s in the customization of the information to the people you are trying to reach. Here’s how you can make it happen with your content:

  • Find the nichey-ist of niches – Focus your content on a subset of your possible buying market. Write your blog for CrossFit moms who want to lose weight. If no one else is customizing for this audience you’ll stand out to them. Great example: TinyCartridge – this blog focuses on mobile gaming as a way to stand out in the overcrowded gaming space.
  • Write your content in a new way – While your topic might be common, your voice isn’t. Consider this blog from Trust Tree, a trademark law firm. Their blog, The Root, focuses on the wacky, weird and fun happenings in trademark law–the result is anything but boring.
  • Be ultra personal – Even if you’re creating content for a super-large Fortune 50 corporation (or maybe especially so), making your content vulnerable, personal and individual will win you friends in the cyber world. By creating content that reveals a personal story, you’re offering something no one else can. For example I love the Twitter stream of @herdyshepherd1 – it’s the photo-driven personal story of what it’s like to be an actual shepherd in rural England. It’s beautiful and feels like you’re getting a personalized tour of someone’s pretty interesting life. Oh and they sell lots of products related to their sheep because of it.
  • Be the gorilla – If you have the resources (and I mean a lot of resources), produce loads of great content and out-produce everyone else in the space. HubSpot has done this admirably in the crowded area of marketing blogging. And, to take another trick from their book, if you want a new audience, purchasing an existing blog could be the way to go–HubSpot wanted to reach the agency audience so they bought the Agency Post an existing well-trafficked blog and voila, insta-audience.

It used to be that information was power. Now, information is cheap and pervasive. So the job of providing real value is more difficult than ever. You cannot phone this one in though, even generic content marketing takes a lot of time and effort. Before you spend a dime or an hour of your valuable time, make sure you’re really going to bring something of true value to your prospects. Otherwise, you’ll be lost in the noise… No ever said this would be easy.

Photo by Cobalt123 via Flickr commons