10 Slides That Sum Up The Future of Content Marketing Perfectly—From #UFX2016

If you’re familiar with the 100th monkey theory, then you’ve probably also noticed that a lot of thought leaders seem to think up the same brilliant idea all at once.

Like when Seth Godin started talking about “Tribes” in 2008. 

A year later, Tribes where all us marketers could talk about. Kinda like the 100 monkeys experiment, which went like this…

Scientists provided a colony of monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkeys liked the sweet potatoes a lot, but they didn’t like the sand.

One day a young monkey figured out she could wash her potatoes in the sea. She taught her mama, and a few of her fellow monkeys. Over a period of about 6 years, the monkeys slowly began to adopt the practice of washing their sweet potatoes in the sea.

Then one day, seemingly overnight, ALL of the monkeys began washing their sweet potatoes, whether they’d been taught by another monkey or not. Around the same time, colonies of monkeys in other parts of the world spontaneously began to wash their good as well.

The conclusion of the experiment was that when a certain critical number achieves an awareness, this new awareness becomes part of the collective subconscious.

With that in mind, my top takeaway from last week’s Überflip Experience (hereafter referred to as #UFX2016)—other than the fact that we’re all just a bunch of monkeys—is that a big shift is happening in content marketing.

One by one, everyone’s coming to the same conclusion.

So many presentations at #UFX2016 could be boiled down to the same, super simple conclusion:

Rather than creating MORE content, create BETTER content.

Of course, each presenter had a fresh take on what constitutes “better” content, but the message was essentially the same: (It goes for copy as much as it goes for content.)

We’re getting bombarded with a sh*tton of content that’s increasingly mediocre. And no one has time to read uninspired, boring things. 

via Ann Handley

This exact graph came up in 2 presentations. (Ann Handley’s handwritten version took the cake for its delectable simplicity).

As the quantity of posts goes up, the quality goes down. Something else quite critical goes down too…


via Ron Tite

Who’s got time for crappy content? Not me.

When you think of time as transactional, you start thinking about your content more like a product. Are you making cheap knick-knacks intended for one-time use? Or are you making a handcrafted, expensive-but-worth-it collectors’ item?

via Nick Edouard

Time can’t be refunded. If you’ve wasted someone’s time with irrelevant, “safe” or boring content, they’re unlikely to give you a second chance.

Consider this: would you shop at a store again if they sold you a crap product, then waved their hands in the air and pointed to their “no refunds” policy when it broke?

via Copy Hacker

Ah, Joanna Wiebe. What can I say?

If I had to guess who was the first monkey to discover that sweet potatoes (i.e. the content) would taste better (i.e. perform better) when washed in the sea (i.e. delivering a truckload of value), I’d bet all my money on Joanna.

via Ann Handley

We know that boring=bad. So…how does one not be boring? As Ann Handley explained, un-boring content means…

Bigger context. (What’s your big “why”?)

Braver marketing. (Like, the kind that might *gasp* drive some of the wrong people away.)

Bolder perspective. (Say out loud what others won’t)

via Ron Tite

An example of the un-boring,

The trouble with un-boring content (as every copywriter knows, and as Ron Tite so concisely demonstrated), is that there’s often some CEO that comes along to ruin all the fun, and edits out all the good stuff.

Un-boring is not safe. It might turn some people off. (If so, good. They probably weren’t your ideal customers. As Marie Forleo says, “If you’re talking to everybody, you’re talking to nobody.”)

My friend & fellow (spectacularly talented) copywriter Marian Schembari recently told me about a client who axed a high-performing sales email because it was “too specific.”

It’s unfortunate. But also super common.

via Ann Handley

Loved this example of what Ann calls the “Rule of FIWTSBS”. Not every company’s web copy can handle this level of flavour, but in general, readers are much more open-minded than we give them credit for.

And, as Joanna Wiebe talked about in another of her spectacular talks, “different is the only thing that stands out.”

Here are 3 more slides I couldn’t not share.

But first.

Some white hot truth.

Day 1 of #UFX2016 was very data heavy. Like, scary data heavy. Many of the speakers talked about their experience of data, as viewed through the lens of their software solution.

As a solopreneur, I find data a little daunting.

I already track a LOT of data that I rarely take the time to look at. Not because I don’t know how, but because I’m just 1 person. And analyzing data isn’t something I can throw at my VA to “look over”.

So when Kyle Lacy showed us this quote from Dan Ariely, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

via Kyle Lacy

Whew! Okay. So I’m not the only one who struggles with data. I’m sharing these final slides not to let anyone (least of all myself) off the hook, but to put things in perspective.

via Ron Tite

Data is important. But it’s not the MOST important thing.

Stories are what make people choose you over the competition.

Stories are what make you different.

Stories sell.

via Ann Handley

Ann Handley talked a lot about Freaker USA, praising them for their bolder, braver, bigger marketing.

If you want a good example of a company that’s doing all of this beautifully, go check out their site. (Their emails makes this copywriter’s heart sing.)

Yoo-hoo! Want to woo clients & subscribers with emails they'll love?

Small round

Get dispatches on all things copy, plus a 3-email promo-pack from The Elegant Email Scripts Collection.

Only the finest for your inbox. Guaranteed. Powered by ConvertKit

  • Hi Tarzan, thanks for sharing all of this!
    I don’t know if it’s just me but the image at “Rule of FIWTSBS”… I always get like:
    “So I need to authentic. Check.
    I need to write inspiring and like I’m talking to a friend. Check.
    So am I the kind of person who calls my newsletter for a “mailing list of awesomeness”? Hmmm…. Hmmmm…”
    And then I’m kind of stuck. Trying to find my authentic voice. Doing my site and half a year later thinking oh my I have to re-write everything cause what I really think now has completely changed.
    Yeah… Fickle at heart.
    What do you recommend for us ‘ficklers’?

  • Great article and excellent examples of bold, creative, and head-turning marketing. I’m stealing that idea that Ron Tite shared with Orange & Cream soda without a doubt.

  • Justin Blackman

    Great post, Tarzan.
    I just came back from Content Marketing World, which had a very similar theme (and many of the same speakers). I don’t know if there were any groundbreaking revelations, but it was definitely inspiring. Your pics and captions sum it all up perfectly.

    • Tarzan Kay

      Good to know. Was thinking of going to that conference, but it looks like I got the message. Hope you saw Ron Tite. He was frikkin’ awesome. I’d watch his whole talk again in a heartbeat.

  • Oh man, this is so good. My team is working on a product to that will analyze all your website’s SEO & content data, then deliver one super actionable recommendation specific to your site each day. So when I came upon this quote:

    “As a solopreneur, I find data a little daunting.

    “I already track a LOT of data that I rarely take the time to look at. Not because I don’t know how, but because I’m just 1 person. And analyzing data isn’t something I can throw at my VA to ‘look over’.”

    …I nearly peed my pants out of excitement and shared it with my team on Slack where it was met with more enthusiasm.

    • Tarzan Kay

      I need that, Diana! How soon can I give you my money? Please keep me posted on your solution. I’m already sold on it. If you need beta-testers, count me in!