This was originally posted to the LinkedIn publishing platform – Pulse. 

I’m getting pretty tired of regurgitated content. Period. I think all of us in the “content marketing” world is to blame. From “10 Tips to Killer Lead Generation” to “5 Ways to be Better at Everything” we have officially bastardized the idea of great content.

Over the past year it has become increasingly painful to read an ebook or white-paper used for demand generation from every vendor on the planet. I’ll even point the finger at myself.

As a content team, we have witnessed the slow death of the ebook because of our focus on primary research. Based on success metrics and client feedback, we now only focus on three types of content.

  1. Primary Consumer Research – Your customers have customers. How do they behave? For example, we spend an inordinate amount of time learning about the consumer population where the majority of our clients conduct business. How does a German consumer use a mobile phone? What does the Japanese think of the LINE Messenger app and Facebook? Questions that appeal to your secondary consumer (your customer’s customers).
  2. Benchmarking – This is related to your system and database. What do you do better than anyone else on the planet? ExactTarget is one of the largest email service providers on the planet. Because of this, we need to be offering the best numbers for email metrics. What does 140 billion emails sent tell us about consumer behavior? How should our customers benchmark themselves compared to competitors? Benchmarking is also related to peer-to-peer research. What can a survey of 2500 marketers tell you about the future of the industry in 2015? Check out our State of Marketing report.
  3. Customer Stories – Customer stories are the lifeblood of any organization. This is where we detail the usage of our products and the success of our clients. Your customers are your best sales people.

You shouldn’t be designing content around anything but the three subject matters listed above. Our primary research deliverables drives well over 60% of all of our content leads and builds thought-leadership beyond the sponsorship of an event.

We have to be more responsible with the attention we are being given. If the customer or prospect spends time filling out a form and reading your deliverable, the content better drive innovation, attention or further action through the sales cycle. If not, you have another wasted lead, sales call and nurture track.

The easiest step is attention… moving them through the entire process with quality content is the hard part.