PHOTO: Greg Westfall

I am sick of reading everyone’s trends for 2017 about content value: “For 2017 it’s not quantity, it’s quality.”

“Marketers will be producing for value, not volume.”

“You’ll see better content out there, not more content out there.”

Right. Because marketers are always looking to produce content with no value. Makes a lot of sense. 

Let’s publish a lot of nonsense and see if we can do our jobs with it. As long as we check that box off on the editorial calendar (that no one is looking at, ever), we will be “getting it done.”

Stop, Stop, Stop

You know what the real problem is? Someone (a lot of people) had to write about what was going to happen in 2017. And this ‘everyone’ knows we’re producing way too much content for our audiences to consume. 

So they started talking about value, rather than quantity. Unfortunately, these ‘experts’ are doing exactly what they were telling people not to do — publish just to publish.

Want to know the real reason brands publish content with no value? Because they talk about themselves way too much or they talk about how they make the sausage instead of why they make the sausage or they tell boring stories no one cares about. 

There’s one simple fix to this. Just one.

Spend Time with Your Audience

That’s right. Just spend time with your audience. That’s all you have to do. 

Go ask them what they care about, what they like, what ticks them off. 

Marcus Sheridan made a career off of this idea: Write down the top 100 questions your customers ask you and write about that. Once you answer those 100 questions, answer the next 100 questions. That’s valuable content. 

And you know what else is so important about it?

It mimics real-life conversations. In this age of digital interaction people are craving what feels like real-life interactions. When you’re talking about your brand and how fabulous you are and how we’re the only ones who can solve your problems (remind you of anyone? wink, wink), you are talking at people. But when you answer people’s questions, you are talking with them. 

And that’s what your customers want.

So you want to provide value in 2017? Stop talking, start listening and then start addressing what your customers really care about. That is value.