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The Content Trap: When Content Becomes a Commodity (And Three Ways to Break Free)

by Aaron Dun  |  
May 24, 2017

Your undifferentiated content is getting lost in a sea of equally indistinguishable content. What you thought was your masterpiece of a whitepaper or e-book is in fact just more noise. Bad news, then: Your content has become a true commodity, with no intrinsic value. And—worse—your readers know it.

To figure out how we got here and what to do about it, let's take a quick step back to your Economics 101 class (but without actually cracking open that book). A commodity, loosely defined, is a "basic good that is essentially identical to other goods of the same type" (think crude oil, wheat, water, natural gas, etc.).

The good itself has no inherent "qualitative differentiation"; the only true differentiation comes from the price of the good in the market.

In a commodity market, suppliers first compete on price, rushing to produce the good in the most efficient way possible to be the lowest-cost provider in what becomes an inexorable race to the bottom of the price-to-value equation. Then suppliers attempt to differentiate on other components—even though the good itself is unchanged:

Are sugar brands really differentiated?

(If you want a detailed history of price and commodity economics, feel free to read on here.)

In B2B marketing, the same thing is happening. The "good" in this case is your content.

With the rise of "inbound marketing," championed by HubSpot and others—and content marketing as championed by pretty much everyone—we all rushed to produce blog posts and other content, and began to act as publishers to tell our brand's story. And so the content explosion began.

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Aaron Dun is senior vice-president of marketing at SnapApp, an interactive-content platform.

Twitter: @ajdun

LinkedIn: Aaron Dun

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  • by Lierin Wed May 24, 2017 via web

    That was some good content! :)

  • by lynne Thu May 25, 2017 via web

    I like how this article ends with a cta to download an ebook. :D

  • by Andrew Fanelli Thu Jun 1, 2017 via web

    I like how this article was published on a website that regularly features infographics.

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