Leave Them Wanting More—by Creating Less

There’s quite a bit of talk these days about quality vs. quantity when it comes to our content strategy. The discussion usually centers on the question of how much content we should we publish. Sometimes the question is channel-centric: How often should we blog? How often should we tweet? How often should we email?

These are the wrong questions to address the quality vs. quantity conundrum. The main issue isn’t how much content we should publish or where we should publish it. Rather, we need to ask, How much content should we create to begin with?

I was having this discussion at a client advisory. The practitioners in the business were frustrated because they were constantly behind the proverbial eight ball when it came to getting their content out to various channels. The content team told me, “It’s hard for us to maintain a strategic editorial calendar because we’re bombarded with content from every product group. Everybody wants their stuff out on all the channels we’re managing.”

Here’s the thing: If we keep creating the same amount of crap and just dam it up in front of a workflow that filters the best to the channels, we haven’t solved the quantity vs. quality challenge. Well, to be fair, we may have solved some of the demand side – assuming that some of what gets published is remarkable.

More importantly, we shouldn’t have created most it to begin with. Solving the content quality vs. quantity challenge isn’t about choosing which content to publish – it’s choosing which content to create. More accurately, it’s about choosing which content NOT to create in the first place.

Admittedly, this may be a tougher nut to crack because you may have to initiate some tough conversations. “Sit down. We need to talk about how we’re creating content. Yes, you’re a subject matter expert, but we really need your expertise, not your writing. We’ll take care of that part.” The company has to be honest with itself. Just as PR has rules about which employees can speak to the press and when, we have to accept that not everyone can create remarkable content.

This is why content-as-centralized-strategy is such an important part of business today. If the only thing we do by treating content strategically is reduce the amount of content pouring out of the business by 25%, do we not believe that we could use those extra cycles to focus on the quality of the remaining 75%? We can ask ourselves, do we really need to create three white papers? Or should we get two white papers really really right?

There’s an old show-biz line from PT Barnum: “Leave them wanting more.” That’s usually taken to mean that we should leave the stage before the audience gets enough of our act. That’s a fine balancing act to be sure. Want to find that balance point where your audience wants more? Foster a process that leaves your company’s content creators creating less.


  • This post left me wanting more!

  • This post left me wanting more.
    In… a good way.

    I often ask clients to consider take the time, money and resources we’re about to commit to, say, five piece of content – and invest it one great one instead. (They don’t often say yes.)

  • Love that so much Doug…. The funny thing is how much easier it is to turn that one great piece INTO 5 little pieces instead of trying to take those five little pieces and turn it into a big piece… See you Soon!!

  • Susan Muegge

    Completely agree. But, it takes time to teach and retrain yourself that more is not necessarily better before you can begin leading others. great post!

  • Thank you so much Susan. Really appreciate the kind words. And, I so agree. It not only takes the time to teach and retrain yourself, I find that you’ve got to stay vigilant. Even when we recognize, and implement the idea of creating less, we can sometimes fall back into the weeds and lose ourselves into producing more. It’s like going to the gym though. If you’ve got a “community” (or a partner) you can keep each other honest.

  • Like Stephen King says, “edit ruthlessly.” This applies to an overall strategy, not just single posts.

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