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Content Marketing Overload?

Content Marketing SaturationFor the past few years, we marketers have been told repeatedly that content marketing is the new marketing paradigm – that to win the hearts of buyers early in their buying processes, we have to lure them in with authentic content designed purely to help the buyer, not to sell our products. What’s more, we need a plethora of content to help drive our SEO.

While that is all still true, it’s also out of date. We’ve reached the point of content overload with email newsletters, blogs, free white papers and e-books, podcasts and corporate how-to videos. People have started to tune out.

To keep our content from going straight to the trash, we now need to take a radically different approach to content marketing. See what we mean in this week’s ZUZA Marketer’s Blog post.


Not another free white paper!

I don’t know about you, but as a marketer, I must see email subject lines like all of the following at least once a day, often from multiple vendors:

  • Why your landing page sucks and what to do about it
  • Content marketing dos and don’ts
  • How to use LinkedIn for business
  • How to improve landing page conversion rates
  • How to improve email open rates
  • Google’s new algorithms
  • How to use online video to market your business
  • How to move prospects through the marketing and sales funnel
  • How to make marketing automation work for you
  • Etc., etc., etc.

I’m saturated at this point. While once I was excited to sign up for all of these email lists to get daily free advice, white papers and e-books with valuable content, now I tune them all out. I’m not seeing anything new – just repackaging of the same “fresh advice from the experts.”

It’s the same with Twitter. I’m following scores of companies’ tweets to receive links to helpful articles. But I keep seeing the same types of content regurgitated over and over.

My suspicion is that this is happening across industries. As companies have bought en masse into content marketing as the must-have campaign tool for the twenty-first century, everyone is rushing to pump out a gusher of “original” content that in fact is simply regurgitating stale information.

This may help drive some SEO, but it is boring the heck out of us consumers who once may have appreciated this free content but are now seeking something more original and substantial.


Zappos to the rescue.

You’ve heard of Zappos, right? They’re the highly successful online shoe and apparel retailer. Maybe you’ve bought shoes from them.

I haven’t.

I’d heard of them, but never shopped with them. But one day, I was doing heavy research on corporate culture as part of my work (which served as inspiration for some other ZUZA Marketer’s Blog posts on defining company culture and linking your company culture to your branding).

I had heard that Zappos was one of those unique companies with an amazing corporate culture that has been the source of happiness for its employees and customers and a key to Zappos’ business success. So I went to the Zappos website.

There I discovered a video tour of the Zappos facility in Las Vegas, showing just how fun, inspiring and empowering their culture is:



Intrigued, I did some further digging and discovered that every year, Zappos publishes a book of quotes submitted by Zappos employees about their perception of the Zappos culture and what it’s like to work at Zappos. These quotes are unedited, meaning, employees can freely call it as they see it, and the quotes will be published in the book. What’s more, Zappos offers a hard-bound copy of their culture book to anyone who wants it, free. Of course I signed up immediately.

Within just a few days, this beautiful book arrived in my postal mail box. I couldn’t believe Zappos just sent me this book for free.

Zappos Culture Book

Zappos Culture Book

Then I started to read the forward by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. In the very first sentence, he pointed me to even more great content: “In my book “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose,” I write about how a company’s culture and a company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin. The brand is simply a lagging indicator of the culture.”

What’s this? A book on culture by the CEO who, well, literally wrote the book on culture? I immediately went to amazon.com to buy the book. Yes, I actually paid to get more content from Zappos.

Delivering Happiness – Zappos

I read the book. More accurately, I devoured it. It is one of the best business books I have ever read, period. I highly recommend it.


“But did you buy any shoes from Zappos???”

I know this question is foremost on your mind. And the honest answer is, “Not yet.” So, is this wasted content? Hardly! I recently gave a talk on content marketing in a panel discussion at a local marketing event. There were a hundred people in the room. I told my Zappos story. That’s one hundred people who got exposed or re-exposed to the Zappos brand in a very positive way.

Now you’re reading this blog post and getting exposed to the Zappos brand in a very positive way.

Everyone who hears my story has the potential to share it with someone else. And everyone who gets the free Zappos culture book will likely share it with at least one other person.

And, when I do need new shoes, I will visit Zappos for sure.

To me, this is sheer content marketing genius.


Key Takeaway

Zappos has created some breakthrough content that has nothing to do with me buying shoes from them. And yet, ultimately, it has everything to do with me buying shoes from them. Zappos has very successfully broken through the clutter of all the other companies and their emails, white papers and e-books to get me to love Zappos.

Even if I wasn’t researching culture or working in marketing, and was just an ordinary consumer, accessing these books would make me feel better about Zappos. I would get the sense that Zappos is an amazing place to work, full of people who love satisfying customers like me. It would make me more interested in experiencing Zappos, its culture and its customer service.

Now it’s your turn.

Think beyond the email, e-book and white paper. Don’t join the masses. Think about your target market and how you can deliver really creative, unique content that will delight, inform and help your target consumers. Package it in a beautiful way. And stand out from all the clutter. The sky’s the limit. Get creative. Really creative.

Here’s to the Marketing Champion in all of us. See you in the next post.





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