Content marketing mistakes: Misallocating limited resources

Originally posted on the ReferralCandy Blog.

4: Misallocating limited resources. (BE VERY PROTECTIVE OF YOUR TIME. Seriously.)


Minimum Viable Content! This idea is shamelessly derived from Jussi Pasanen’s (@jopas) idea of how to build Minimum Viable Product.

The most counter-intuitive realization I’ve had about content marketing is that well-meant ‘research’ can ruin you.

Here’s a painfully true story:

  1. I once wanted to write a blogpost that compared the marketing of Oreo and Nutella. I wanted to demonstrate how they were similar, how they were different, and I wanted to use the juxtaposition to write an insightful essay about the nature of marketing itself.
  2. I wasn’t very clear about who I was writing the post for, or what the post was supposed to solve. My metric for “the post is done”, implicitly, was “when it satisfies me”. You can imagine how that played out.
  3. The solution, I thought, was for me to get more context. So I started doing more research. I spent 3 full weeks agonizing over the post. I would read more and more about the chemical compounds of chocolate, the way chocolate is grown, the psychological effects of eating chocolate, the history of NaBisCo (which owns Oreo), the guy who invented the Oreo creme filling, the history of the family business that owns Nutella. I probably know more about Oreo and Nutella (and Mars and Hershey… all very interesting stories) than 99% of people.

None of that stuff helped me.

The post was bloated and incoherent. It was a tremendous waste of time and energy, and it was deeply demoralizing.


People who talk about content marketing without talking about resource constraints Really Annoy Me. Source:

The scary thing about doing ‘research’ is that it always feels like you’re making progress.

You’re putting in the hours, doing the reading, collecting the data. You’re getting more information about the space that you’re in. But that’s not actually helping you get to where you want to go. And the clock is ticking.

  • You want to get to the peak of user satisfaction as fast as possible. That means you need to get insight, pronto.
  • You want to identify the problem that needs solving, then allow that to inform the research you need to do.

Once you get that, you get useful feedback. You get shares, you get requests. You get more energy, you get more resources. And then you can afford do the more ambitious things that you were originally hoping to do.

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