Why You Should Question The Experts
Do you engage in a content marketing strategy because your favorite guru wrote about it in a blog post?
It’s time to stop.
Let’s face it — we all do this from time to time. We have our content marketing expert favorites. We read their success stories, case studies, and in-depth blog posts. We feel like we’re part of their tribe.
But are they really giving us the advice we need?
I thought about this as I was reading an article in Marketing Profs (this article requires a PRO membership to read the whole thing.) One of the writing tips that struck me was “Stick to 1,500-3,000 words; you’ll balance effort with traffic, and you’ll be golden.”
I understand the writer’s point. He backs up his “longer posts are better” statement with stats from BuzzSumo, CrazyEgg, and Marketing Experiments. The research is sound.
However, I’d have a hard time believing that this “rule of thumb” metric is true for every business across every vertical. Some audiences may prefer and share shorter posts. Maybe even your industry. In this case, writing a 2,000-word post may be counterproductive. After all, why bother putting all that work into a post if your audience won’t read it?
Instead of thinking of your marketing guru’s opinion as fact, stay open and be curious. Maybe their suggestion would work on your site. Maybe something else is a better approach.
You won’t know until you try and measure the results.
Testing assumptions also helps to solve the “we’ve always done it this way” syndrome. If you feel like you’re not making the marketing gains you want, reviewing your assumptions is a very smart move.
Think about all the assumptions you can test. Here’s just a small collection I’ve collected from industry gurus:
- Your business must blog every week for maximum impact.
- You must blog multiple times every week.
- You must provide a value-added giveaway to increase your newsletter subscribers.
- Pop-ups are bad, and you should never include them.
- You must create an online course to capture leads.
- You must run free webinars.
- Your business must start a podcast.
- You must create a Title tag using X format.
I’m sure you can name some assumptions too.
Be aware that some colleagues may find “testing assumptions” extremely threatening. Although you may be pumped to throw pop-ups on your site, someone else may hate the idea. They may resist it. They may tell you no.
That’s OK. Instead of an all-or-nothing scenario, offer to run a small test and report on the results. The more you can confirm your assumptions (or blow them out of the water,) the more on-target your marketing.
Why did the MarketingProf’s article hit home for me? It’s because I’ve been questioning my assumptions and looking closely at my own gurus’ advice. I’ve been in business a long time, and it’s easy to fall into the “this is just the way I do it” trap. Sometimes, it’s easier to listen to others rather than being 100% sure a strategy works.
However, just because I’ve been doing it a long time doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. It just means I have a process.
I’ll be making some small tweaks here and there (some you’ll notice, and some will be behind the scenes.) When I discover a tasty morsel of marketing knowledge, I’ll share it here. Not because it’s something you should do too. But because it will give you something to think about – and an assumption to test.
What about you? Did you follow a guru’s advice only to have the situation end badly? What “we’ve always done it this way” processes do you want to test? Leave your comments below.
It is true that on average long form content gets shared more but you are right that in many areas short form content is much more popular. I have been researching lots of topics using BuzzSumo’s analysis reports and in areas like Kitchen design short form is very much the order of the day. Good advice to question the accepted wisdom and test what works in your area.
Fantastic insight, Steve! Thank you so much for posting and sharing your research. It’s great to see you here. :)
I’ve gotta say I’m influenced by what industry gurus say. But being influenced and religiously doing everything they say are two different things entirely.
I only ever do the things that make sense to me and my business. These gurus may be acknowledged experts. But they’re not experts in my own business. I am.
As for those commonly held assumptions, I don’t actually bother to test them when I do follow them. I simply don’t have the time. I just accept that a few individual things I do may be duff and focus more on the wider picture.