Every year, Scott Brinker, the brilliant mind behind ChiefMartec.com, releases a Magic Eye poster that’s very popular in the marketing world. If you stare at it long enough, you’re rewarded with a deep sense of existential despair as you watch your company’s logo jockey with thousands of others in a giant sea of buzzwords.
This year’s graphic features 3,874 martech solutions and 3,500 companies (some companies have multiple solutions), a figure that has nearly doubled since last year. By 2018, this project may literally kill Scott. It’s mind-boggling to think that when Contently launched, there were only 150 companies in the field. When I came on as editor-in-chief of Contently in late 2013, there were fewer than 1,000.
With so many new companies entering the fray, there are more people marketing to marketers than ever before. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to break through, particularly with content. Most companies have adopted content marketing in some form. Now a wave of noise washes over us as the same posts propagate like cicadas in the night: “5 Ways for Increasing Social Reach”… “7 Tips for Creating Copy That Converts”… “3 Key Tactics for Nurturing Leads.”
These aren’t necessarily bad topics; the articles get copied because they address common marketing problems. But there’s also diminishing value in writing about something already covered by just about everyone. Copycat strategies just aren’t going to work if you want to grow an audience. The marketing blogs that will win going forward are the ones that commit to being ambitious and original.
If you run the editorial operation of a martech company, you should be simultaneously terrified and inspired. Personally, I’m leaning toward inspired. This competitive landscape is an excuse to shoot for great instead of settling for good—to publish original research, commission longform essays, create compelling podcasts and videos, and challenge yourself to tell stories in interesting ways. It’s the only way to stand out and convince your audience to stick with you when there are so many other options.
Hell, Scott’s Magic Eye poster is the perfect example of that. It’s a work of true dedication, and it’s going to end up in more decks this year than this stock photo of a hipster millennial perched over a typewriter. Is there any greater honor than that?