It’s never been easier to pump out content to customers. With today’s easy-to-use CMS systems and some simple SEO tools, you can publish a ton of optimised material.

There is certainly an argument to focus on achieving sufficient quantity. In a recent benchmarking report from HubSpot, they find:

You get the picture.

You’ll also get it if you read any of the guides to creating a B2B content marketing engine/factory/farm etc. Or the focus on curating content (often amounting to little more than crude link-scraping).

Quantity is big.

Of course quantity and quality tend to be uneasy bedfellows. As quantity rises, quality tends to fall.

Industry thought leader or generic thought follower?

Laura Ramos at Forrester made some interesting observations in her recent post – Which comes first: content marketing or thought leadership? She highlights four key trends that are both powering content marketing and causing it to under-deliver for companies that get it wrong:

  1. Increased buyer sophistication with greater access to a mass of content

  2. An under-performing marketing mix using quick-hit, poor-quality content to get clicks

  3. The rise of marketing automation driving demand for yet more content

  4. Media fragmentation from cheap, easy-to-use publishing platforms

As Laura points out, this has led some marketing leaders to try to elevate their content to focus on more thought leadership material. The problem being that so little ‘thought leadership’ really deserves the title (and certainly isn’t seen by customers in that light).

Can you build it? Will they come?

It leads Laura to pose the question: ‘Can CMOs manufacture thought leadership, or is it only earned through the consistent, dedicated pursuit of good editorial publishing that is educational, interesting, and (even) entertaining?’

I would argue that CMOs certainly can create thought leadership but that it demands a commitment to quality that’s not always there.

Too many focus on creating ‘leading thoughts’ about their products when customers want insight into their own markets and businesses. CMOs also tend to look at what their competitors are producing and use that as a benchmark.

It’s understandable but also a significant factor in the race to the bottom on quality.

The focus on SEO-first is also leading to too many cookie-cutter approaches that will only focus on content driven by high volume, low competition search terms. Of course, SEO is important but it shouldn’t define your business strategy.

Getting back to the core

It’s time for many companies to reassess what they want to stand for in the eyes of their customers. In many ways this is about getting the basics right:

From here it comes back to developing a strong brand. (This may involve creating a strong B2B content marketing brand but even that is subservient to the business as a whole.)

Once this is in place, the questions about quality vs quantity will be a lot easier to answer.