This is how the blogging game is played.
- Write everyday
- Post at least once a week
- Write an ebook
- Build a list
- Try to sell something to that list
The problem with this formula is that everyone is playing the same game.
Worse, this formula benefits only one type of blogger – The Goliath.
Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath argues that Davids beat Goliaths when they refuse to play the game the way the world tells them to. Instead, Davids find ways to turn their weaknesses into advantages.
The most popular example is David’s mastery of battlefield Rock Paper Scissors.
How a Shepherd Beats a Trained Soldier
On the battlefield, tacticians know that Infantry beat Cavalry.
Archers beat Infantry.
Cavalry slaughters Archers.
Goliath was a big slow-moving tank, an oversized version of the ancient infantry man. When David volunteered to fight Goliath, Saul, the king of the Israelites offered him a shield and sword, an infantry man’s tools. David refused the gifts intuitively knowing that he would get crushed if he fought like an infantry. David kneels, picks up a few stones, and runs to meet Goliath with a simple strategy.
According to Gladwell, military historians agree that a “slinger”, an ancient archery man with a slingshot, could bury a stone in wood, flesh, or bone. A few minutes later, that’s exactly what David did. Archer beats Infantry. Paper covers Rock.
That blog formula I explained a moment ago isn’t for you. If you are broke, hungry, unskilled, and desperate then you need another strategy entirely. Your competitors, the Goliaths, have:
Money or prestige to get great writers.
Those great writers churn out posts every day.
They turn those awesome posts into even better ebooks, infographics, and whitepapers.
That “awesome content” stuffs their email list with adoring subscribers who spend money to get more awesomeness.
First, don’t hate, the top bloggers are there for a reason. They are good, very good, at what they do. So don’t whine about it. Just understand that these players make the rules. That’s the a cool perk of being Goliath.
You, my friend need to fight like David.
Content Rock Paper Scissors
Here’s my version of content Rock Paper Scissors
- Quality beats Reach
- Reach beats Frequency
- Frequency beats Quality
As David you need to size up your opponent and pick the proper strategy.
Does your opponent seem to be everywhere? Good, that means they’ve spread themselves too thin. You can compete by focusing on one specific topic and creating deep comprehensive content.
Does your opponent churn out a post every day? Ok, going toe-to-toe may burn you out, try moving to other channels your opponent has overlooked. Think about podcasts, video blogging, or even going offline with speaking. I once heard that “Deep talent creates deep ruts” meaning that what you are good at often traps you. For example, a prolific writer can’t imagine doing anything else but write. Their strength easily becomes the weakness that traps them.
What if you competing against someone who writes incredibly in-depth small-story length articles every month? This is an effective strategy that is tough to beat. But, those “epic” posts cost a lot in time and energy. Posting more frequently satisfy readers who can’t wait a month for your opponent’s next post.
Be a Content Machiavelli
You might be unnerved by my fixation on the competition. But my friend, I don’t play to play. I play to win. You should too. Here’s the reality of content marketing, your readers are in control and they have a finite amount of attention. When they decide to entertain, educate, or inform themselves, they use a cruel calculus to determine who will get their attention. They want one reliable resource not two. One is efficient. Two is work.
You have to compete for that one position. You can’t compete like a Goliath so kneel, select a stone, and run into battle.
Rock Paper Scissors Rationale
Can Quality beat Frequency?
The trick is to combine quality and frequency. But,quality is a fundamentally different tactic. Quality rewards readers who have time to patiently work through 10,000 word posts. Those type of readers have been on the endangered species list for some time.
Can Frequency Beat Reach?
Sometimes. A prolific writer can use reach if they can switch mediums such as becoming a podcaster. However this feat is tough to pull off. For example, I want to podcast, but prefer writing. Switching to a podcast will take an enormous amount of energy and time. Smart competitors can exploit this weakness.
Can Reach Beat Quality?
Sometimes it looks like someone who is on every social network gets the attention, but quality content will attract the best readers who later become the best leads and customers.
For example, as a Ohio State football fan, I have two ways to satisfy my appetite for Buckeye news, The Bleacher Report, an online sports daily that is everywhere online and ElevenWarriors.com an online publication that digs deep into arcane details only a Buckeye fanatic would appreciate. Eleven Warrior readers are fundamentally different. We buy season tickets, we track every scouting report, we brag about next year’s freshman recruiting class. If you wanted to sell Buckeye paraphernalia, where would you advertise? Yep, the place where you can talk to an unusually passionate audience. Quality wins.
Hypothesis or Theory?
Content Rock Paper Scissors is just a guideline. Remember the point here is to understand your competitor’s strengths and avoid, Identify your competitor’s weaknesses and exploit them by improving your skill set.
So my Rock Paper Scissors analogy is strictly a hypothesis. There will be times when it isn’t useful. But the principle behind it is timeless. Ask David.