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You Ask, I Answer: Value of Content Marketing in an AI World?

In this video, Christopher Penn discusses the impact of large language models on content marketing and the challenges that come with it. While these models are good at generating and refining content, the lack of an exchange of traffic between the models and content creators creates a new economic equation. Christopher suggests that instead of solely focusing on top-of-the-funnel awareness, content marketers should shift their focus to creating content that nurtures and retains existing customers. By investing resources in creating content that makes customers happy and building a strong community, companies can reduce churn rates and improve customer loyalty.

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Christopher Penn 0:00

In today’s episode, Jason asks, What is the future of content marketing.

Now with tools like chat GPT and other large language models, this is not surprising question after our conversation last time about the effects on SEO, in terms of the way these tools are going to impact content marketing.

Right now, the tools are good at generating content, they are great at refining content, or transforming it from one type to another.

This is easily seen when you take something like a transcript from a call and ask one of these tools, some of these large language models to go ahead and rewrite that as a journal article or a newspaper piece or something along those lines, where it can reformat the data that you’re giving it.

Hence, the name, transformer generative pre trained transformer.

That’s what GPT-2 stands for.

And those are really powerful and very effective, what they do in the bigger picture of how these tools are going to impact content marketing is going to depend a lot on settling some legal issues.

Namely, the data that these tools are trained on may not have what we know for sure has not been given conceptually, because you were probably not asking when these tools made their crawl the web, hey, can we use your blog as part of the training data set? This is also true for images, there is no precedent set in law yet that would determine how these tools could or could not use that data.

But that brings to a much bigger question about the value of content, and the purpose of content and the the system of exchange that we’ve had in place.

For the last 25 years.

Now, we’ve had sort of a tacit agreement with technology companies, companies like Google and Facebook and Twitter and YouTube, etc.

And the agreement has been this, we give you content for free, that we take our time and effort to publish and to make.

And in exchange, you send us new potential customers for free.

And that’s sort of the bilateral exchange, we make this stuff for you.

And then you send us prospects, the large language models in particular, but all the generative AI models, sort of break this arrangement.

Think about it, when you go on to the new Bing, or the new Google and stuff that Google borrowed from the demos that have been shown.

Where is your website, listed in the citations and in the sources for these new models, if you look at beings beings are tiny little pillbox citations, like footnotes and the results and then the Google demo, there wasn’t any.

That means that a large language model that was trained on our stuff collectively, is not sending us traffic back.

Right.

So it breaks that economic model, it breaks that model of saying, We’re gonna give you this for free, and you send us customers for free.

Now, the large language models and these generative AI models are effectively saying you give us your content for free, we give you nothing back.

Now, you don’t need to be an economist to figure out that’s a pretty raw deal.

And so a big challenge for content marketers is to say, Well, if the economic equation is broken, why do we need to do content marketing? Right? Why do we need to publish stuff in the hopes of these technology companies sending us traffic when we know they’re not going to? This is not the first time we’ve dealt with this think about, for example, Facebook, in the first five years of Facebook’s public availability really thinking 2010 to 2015.

They sent businesses a lot of traffic, a lot of potential customers, sharing links, sharing all sorts of content and people were thrilled people made Facebook a core part of their social media marketing strategy.

Today, you know, really the last seven or eight years, that equation is totally different.

Now, you have to pay for anything on Facebook to be seen at all much less to be able to contact your followers in any reasonable method or period of time.

And your organic your unpaid reach is pretty much zero, right? So the economic equation changed however, in exchange companies have largely recognized Well, is there a point in publishing organic content to Facebook? No, cuz you’re not gonna get paid for it.

Right? Your your pay is the form of new customers and if you get no reach, why bother doing it? That doesn’t materially harm Facebook’s model because a lot of the the interactions they are interpersonal reactions on a person to person basis and not business.

As in something like training and building large language models, who publishes the majority of content online, there are certainly many, many individuals who published and post content blogs like the one you’re reading now.

But there’s way more corporate content, right? All these different websites and such.

And if the value is no longer in search for that content marketing, we’re, what is the value? Here’s what to think about.

The value of content marketing, is not just as a discovery mechanism, it is as a nurturing mechanism.

It is as a loyalty mechanism.

And it’s those areas of the marketing operations funnel that we should probably pay more attention to anyway.

Think about it.

How much time and effort do you currently put into your content marketing right now at sort of that top of the funnel awareness slash discovery phase, I’d be willing to wager it’s the majority of your time, right? You’re trying to get improved search listings, you’re trying to get more traffic out of social media, you’re trying to attract eyeballs, you’re pushing out content on YouTube, and Tiktok.

And all those places.

How much of that content that you’re creating is directed at your loyal customers is specifically made just for them, and nobody else? Not as much as attracting new folks, right? It’s the same kind of thing that companies do with their marketing budgets, they spend inordinate sums of money attracting to attract new customers, and they kind of ignore the existing customers, which creates customer churn.

Because customers recognize, hey, I got a better deal.

If I abandon this company, and come back in a month than I that I get staying with them and being a loyal customer.

So if you flip your content marketing strategy, to creating content that makes your existing customers deliriously happy, your content marketing will still serve a vital function, probably a badly neglected function.

And in turn, those now very happy customers who no longer feel like they’re getting ignored in favor of you know, the new customers will probably be more likely to recommend you to refer you to spread news about you via word of mouth.

So that to me, is the the sensible future, for content marketing, yes, there will still always be a place to to create awareness based content.

But if search and social continue to change as dramatically as they do, and incorporate much more generative AI capabilities that might free us up, to be able to really focus in on building those relationships with our loyal customers, building our communities, for our loyal customers, and making them as happy as possible so that when behind closed doors in Slack, and and discord and telegram and all these places that that machines can’t read.

Our customers are talking about us in a positive light, our customers are recommending us to others in the private discussions and that group chat or that group text, that that people have.

That’s the future of content marketing, that if we invest our scarce resources wisely, will probably provide the biggest bang for the buck.

Think about it.

How often have you heard the correct trope that it costs x times more money to acquire a new customer then does to retain an existing one that isn’t just for customer service? That is for all marketing.

If you took 80% of your content marketing budget that you’re using for acquisition and put it into attention, what kind of impact would that have on your business? What if you could cut your churn rate by 50%? Just with the power of great content marketing? give that some thought.

That’s a it’s a great question about the future of content marketing and the answer, I feel is in in making our existing customers happier.

Thanks for the question.

We’ll talk to you next time.

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