3 Big Reasons Why I’m Not Worried About Content Shock

by Craig McBreen · 10 comments · Content Marketing

Danger of death Electric shock

At first glance the patchwork of covers seemed overwhelming.

Handyman, Outdoor Life, The New Yorker.

People, Money, Time.

Esquire, Maxim, … All About Beer. And of course, who wouldn’t want to spend Every Day with Rachel Ray?

I could find the “Secret to Dynamite Delts” in Krave Fit.

Read about “Australia’s Inked Entrepreneurs” in Tattoo.

Or take a gander at Women’s Health “Look Great Naked” piece, which lured me in a like horny 17-year-old.

I was taking a break while at the library. So while my wife guarded my laptop, I strolled to the magazine rack.

Bruce Jenner’s strange, Michael Jackson-like look distracted me, as did the girls of Maxim, and the promise of “rock-hard abs” for men of a certain age.

Like perusing the web, I was faced with a cornucopia of eye-candy; bright colors, hard bodies and bold fonts screaming for my attention.

I veered a bit, but soon found what I was looking for.

Maybe comparing a magazine rack with the vast online world is not a perfect analogy, but it’s a starting point to counter the Content Shock meme heard round the world.

You have read about Content Shock, right?

If you’re wondering what it is, take a look at this post. A piece that became quite the conversation starter.

The gist?

When it comes to online content, there’s a cosmic ocean of information and your little noggin can only scan and process so much of it. (We call this information overload.)

And the crisis comes when it’s no longer economically viable to pursue content marketing. Time is money and those precious hours spent on the old weblog just aren’t paying off like they used to.

Let me say I have a TON of respect for Mark, BUT I don’t agree with the main point of the article, which is: content marketing is not a sustainable model for many companies and organizations, based on a supply and demand argument –

From {grow} … “When supply exceeds demand, prices fall. But in the world of content marketing, the prices cannot fall because the “price” of the content is already zero — we give it away for free. So, to get people to consume our content, we actually have to pay them to do it, and as the supply of content explodes, we will have to pay our customers increasing amounts to the point where it is not feasible any more.”

So, two factors …
1. The amount of content available (Supply) basically doubling every few years with no end in sight.
2. People only have so much capacity and so many hours in the day to consume this stuff (Demand).

Supply exploding like breeding bunnies.

Demand flatter than Frankenstein’s head.

The intersection of these two wreaks havoc in the form of Content Shock.

He certainly has a point, but I’m not completely sold on this. So let’s call today’s post a motivational treatise on how to kick Content Shock in the kisser, or 3 big reasons why I’m not worried about Content Shock …

1. The Niche Rules

I borrowed my magazine analogy from Shel Holtz. At first glance a magazine rack seems overwhelming, but a closer look shows niche magazines built for select audiences. Modern Ferret anyone?

Now let’s go beyond print and look at the world around you. From local farming, to craft beer, to doggy day car, the beautiful little niche is a boon to entrepreneurs everywhere.

Just look at food trucks and how they are empowering chefs, formerly under the thumb of the restaurant owner and/or the bank.

And a successful food truck owner is often someone who has created a niche within a niche – a fresh approach to a seemingly overcrowded topic << there you go!

THIS is how you differentiate yourself and survive and thrive, in the brick and mortar world AND our online jungle.

Like Marcus Sheridan wrote here  “the Digital David’s will continue to dominate the Goliaths of their industries for the foreseeable future.” … because … “they’ll always be more nimble, creative, and willing to think outside the box.”

These Davids win with a combination of hard work, creativity, determination, and speedy recovery. They thrive when they learn to cater to a select audience … and don’t suck at it.


Same as it ever was, right? Except now the gatekeepers are withering on the vine and you own a mini media company. Heck, you are the media company so says two guys I admire: James Altucher and Gary Vaynerchuk. According to Gary, Every Single One of Us is a Media Company.

Am I telling you to own your niche like a tattooed food trucker? Well, yes.

2. Great Content Wins

Sonia Simone introduced my sorry ass to the term “Rainmaker Content.” Content that solves problems, brings forth passion and authority, finds a fresh approach to a topic and makes it interesting to read.

In this response to Content Shock She artfully explains “there is no glut of quality content.” and ” … we are a long way from the day when too much high-quality, Rainmaker-style content is being created.”

And just to make sure you were reading …

“To repeat myself, there is not a glut of content that is useful, passionate, individual, and interesting.”

BAM! Hit me up with some knowledge, Copyblogger Priestess.

In my own little world, I still have ZERO problems finding great stuff on the web. In fact, I’d say it’s easier than ever.

Yes, content will continue to explode, but knowing your audience and producing like a rainmaker, will kick Content Shock in the chops (kinda) … as long as you promote properly, which leads to …

3. Online Filters (Ain’t What They Used to Be)

In other words, they’re WAY better at effectively screening out the dreck. And just think about new channels that will seemingly come out of nowhere.

Sophisticated instruments built to distribute rock solid, super duper content.

Like Holtz argues, from Flipboard to Storify we are just getting started.

The other filters? Those humanoids you follow on social who share worthy material.

And isn’t that Cutts guy working his fingers to the bone over at Google, trying to filter out the crud?

So, is it all worth it?

With all the hours involved in blogging, you might soon be “paying” your audience just to keep ‘em around and heck, maybe you already are. So, only you can decide if it’s actually worth it.

But I honestly think it’s more worth it than ever.

Mark asks: “How does a small company build an audience today from a standing start in this era of Content Shock?”

Well, just think how it was about 15 short years ago. Talk about high barriers to entry …

To publish you still had to please the gatekeepers.

To grow a small business (say a food truck) you had to rely on word of mouth, paid advertising, and pound-the-pavement promotion.

To grow a firm, a printed brochure and old fashioned networking were your best friends.

Today? Well, let’s just say it’s a hell of a lot easier.

Content Shock is not the apocalypse, it’s more of a transformative phase and the party sure as heck ain’t over.

Yes it IS a jungle out there, but it alway has been and always will be.

Barriers to entry are always high. Trying to build and market a business has never been easy, but at the moment, that window (your point of entry into content marketing) is still open and not closing any time soon.

Yes it is difficult to have your voice heard above the rest, but again, it alway has been and always will be.

But using online content to find the right customers for your business? I think we’re just getting warmed up.

Like I stated here, if you deliver a consistent, helpful, engaging narrative with a core message and a specific audience in mind, I think you’ll be more than okay. You might just blow past the competition … or at least get started on your way.

The truth about Content Shock? In this piece, the articulate Mr. Doug Kessler over at Velocity Partners sums this up quite nicely…
“The bad news: Mark is right: The Saturation is coming. The good news: Most marketers will still suck at this for many years … Being good at it is still a really, really good strategy.”

Sweet wisdom, eh?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephen Lahey February 6, 2014 at 11:11 am

Great post, Craig! I think that we CAN break through the noise by focusing a clear value proposition on a very specific audience.
Stephen Lahey recently posted..Power-up Your Marketing with Google AdWords: An Interview with Hamilton WallaceMy Profile


Craig McBreen February 6, 2014 at 11:18 am

Hi Stephen,

Thanks! Hopefully I wasn’t too late to the party, but wanted to get my thoughts out there.


Doug Kessler February 6, 2014 at 11:18 am

Excellent post.
I do think increasingly focused niches and improved filtering will forestall content shock.
Yes, it’s a content deluge, but when I’m looking for a supply chain management solution for left-handed rope-makers, I’m not going to browse the content ocean.
I’ll zoom in on the relevant puddle…
Doug Kessler recently posted..The search for meaning in B2B marketingMy Profile


Craig McBreen February 6, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Hi Doug,

Thank you!

Yes, that content ocean is vast, but zooming in on the relevant puddle will work ;) And like you stated, “most marketers will still suck at this for many years,” … so the window is still open.


Mark W Schaefer February 7, 2014 at 5:46 am


The arguments you pose here are not unique (in fact you quote others who originated the ideas). Rather than address these one by one, I have covered all of these points in one place on a separate post. I would encourage you and your readers to thoughtfully examine these counter points, especially the argument about producing “rainmaker” content. How is that a strategy? Sheesh. Can you imagine walking into your boss and explaining that your strategy to overcome information density is to “be amazing?” Sorry. That is not a strategy. Here’s the post with my counter points:

Thanks for continuing the conversation but what I would really like to see in this space is somebody refute the arguments I made in this second post with business logic instead of throwing out the tired “best content rises to the top” argument which is simply a rainbow-colored fantasy.
Mark W Schaefer recently posted..A plan to earn your way into the hearts of Internet influencersMy Profile


Craig McBreen February 11, 2014 at 10:17 am

Hi Mark,

I read the counter points. I wouldn’t encourage people to chase rainbows, just to be better than the next guy through differentiation and high-quality content delivered to a smaller audience, the right audience.

Is it difficult to have your voice heard above the rest? Yes, very, but it always has been and always will be. Most of the current saturation is blogging noise, and like I mentioned in the post, most marketers are still perfecting their art or pumping out pablum ;)

Thank you for getting this conversation started! I just wanted to add my two cents.


Ashley March 4, 2014 at 1:16 am

Hi Craig
There does seem to be a massive deluge of content out there, but we can only try to find the high ground as you said. Write useful stuff that people want to read. Make it stand out if possible.
You have inspired me though to try to reach a new high. I think I was wallowing a little. But perhaps with my upcoming podcast, I can stand out – just a little. It too is not a new game, but not as saturated as writing a blog.
time will tell, and the mad lemmings will continue to jump from the cliffs!
Ashley recently posted..Display Widgets – Play Hide and Seek with WordPressMy Profile


Craig McBreen March 4, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Hey Ashley,

Indeed! Glad I inspired you … Part of the plan is to soon offer consulting that is a bit more in the personal branding space. Plenty more coming.

I think the Podcasting window is still wide open. Onward and upward, Sir!


Jon Buscall March 7, 2014 at 12:43 pm

I enjoyed this post a lot Craig. I understand Mark’s response; nonetheless, I do think it is a case of the good rising to the top but there does has to be a strategy behind the content.

My take on it would be to spend as much, if not more, time engaging and promoting “around” the great content, rather than just riding the content creation train to the next station.

For example, a series of 6 well-produced videos, compiled over a period of, say, three months has the potential to really stand out and be found if they’re built into a campaign whereby they’re promoted on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, blog posts, guest blog posts, interviews on top podcasts, etc.

Perhaps the mistake we’re making is that we’re constantly trying to create unique content on a very fast cycle instead of creating a series of great content and then spending a longer period promoting and engaging around it.

Perhaps my mistake is that I put a podcast out, for example, and then move on to the next one. But that’s probably because I have the attention span of a gnat; but a really cogent series of videos (blog posts, info graphics, etc) could give an inroad into being interviewed by others, shared and promoted on social media channels, etc.

Maybe that’s the route to being seen?
Jon Buscall recently posted..Redesigning a WebsiteMy Profile


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