If you haven't picked up the latest copy of Synergize (the journal of digital marketing), this year's Sexiest Marketing Term is "content marketing/strategy."
Because this is the sexiest term of 2012, everyone is suggesting to their clients, to their bosses, to anyone who will listen. "Make more content" they/we say. The thing is, how much content is enough content?
Since marketers/strategists like me are paid to help you produce content, we tend to recommend "all the content" as the answer. But that's not always the right answer.
Like all good questions, the real answer is "it depends." It depends on your sales cycle, sales repeatability, product type, audience demographics, and a host of other issues.
For example, you run a successful specialty paint/faux finish business. Mostly, you sell to interior designers, but you market to the end customer to help drive demand. Your professional audience needs to see that you are ready with the latest trends and techniques. Since they will use your work over and over again, you need regular content. Your end-customer market will probably only buy from you once a in a blue moon, but they also like to see new trends. Also, end-users will share ideas with friends.
How much content? I'd recommend a monthly newsletter (400 words) about what the business is working on and seeing, paired with heavy use (close to daily) of visual social networks, like Pinterest and Instagram. The firm should show off what they do, what they see, and what they like. All that content should get shared on other platforms like Facebook, for people not on Instagram and Pinterest.
You're a local coffee shop specializing in indie-credibility coffee and snacks. You have regulars who come in because they know you have quality materials, and you have coffee fans willing to travel a little for special coffee. Maybe they will buy a pound for home use. Maybe they use your shop to meet people.
How much content? Not much. Unless your shop holds regular events, your shop and its products don't change often enough to justify bugging people with the same old same old. I recommend a monthly newsletter (200 words, coupons and upcoming events) to your fans and a Facebook page just so people can find you.
You're a software development shop, focusing on local businesses. You market to other businesses for new business and other developers to help your recruitment process. Most of your customers will probably not need to buy from you for another year or so, but you can leverage them into positive word of mouth.
How much content? Not much. A bi-monthly email to customers (400-600 words, talk about new trends and tell them if they suggest you to a new customer, they get a gift), and a Tumblr (publish to it at least weekly) with interesting photos, quotes, links and articles about the staff to help potential recruits find you.
Local bakery? Take a pic every day and post it to Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
Local tailor? Don't bother. Just make sure you ask your happy customers to say nice things about you on Yelp and other review sites.
Local restaurant? Stay on Twitter and mention daily or weekly specials and any positive mentions in local media.
You probably don't need all the content, you need reasonable content, focused and tailored to your audience's wants and needs. It's all about maintaining the balance between your workload, your audience's interest, your interesting content, and your audience's disinterest in being spammed.
James Ellis is a Chicago-area digital strategist with Google Analytics certification. That said, he still wonders what it would be like to live in a bouncy house full time. You can get in touch with James at saltlab.com to tell him how many ways he's wrong.