I call bullshit. While this “low quality” vision of the world is pervasive, as is the presence of mediocrity (the people who say, “I don’t care enough to deliver quality; I don’t have enough time to produce quality; I’m not paid enough to offer quality; nobody cares about quality, least of all me, blah, blah), that negative view of quality is exactly wrong about the way the world works.
No matter what marketers say or do, people are not stupid. They know, and always will, the difference between low-quality and high-quality, when somebody cares or not. And guess what? People want quality, even when they have low expectations for quality. They notice, and they tell their friends and family about good and bad experiences.
As someone who produces content in a world best described as “a 24/7 tsunami of low-quality content,” I have only one competitive advantage over the hordes of content writers: I care deeply about quality and seek to do everything I do with quality. Why? Because quality matters a LOT to my clients, to my readers, and, most of all, to my own integrity and growth as a creative person. Quality is the best marketing for writers like me, and their clients/brands too.
Want to lose clients as a content marketer? The fastest way I know is to stop caring about quality, to settle for mediocrity. Zombie content is like dirt in a park -- it’s everywhere and nobody notices it anymore. If YOU create such content, you become an undifferentiated, low-paid commodity who can be replaced by a robot. And the low-quality content you produce makes your client look terrible. As brand messaging goes, it doesn’t get much worse than bad content.
Does the client “save money” by hiring a commodity content creator, someone who takes on so much low-paying content work that they’re like an overworked assembly line worker who crashes at the end of the day? Yes, the client saves money. Here’s what else happens . . . The content creator never improves due to mental and physical exhaustion. Readers of the cheap, “factory-produced” content lose respect for the brand. Is there anything about “low quality content” that’s good? Well, it’s good for me because it offers a business opportunity around high-quality content.
Producing quality content takes time, intelligence, heart, and an optimistic vision of the world. It is a deeply human endeavor. Any creator needs to be smart and rested and well-paid to create consistently high-quality content. I only work with clients who have an understanding of quality and will pay for it. If they don't, they’re better off finding the high-volume, low-quality content drone who will churn out work that customers will ignore.
Quality content need not be prohibitively expensive. People who care the most about producing quality are also (and always) the people who put integrity above making boatloads of money -- they’re not trying to fleece unsuspecting clients, nor will they be fleeced (for they are never unsuspecting people, in my experience). Wherever quality matters, to writers and clients alike, you’ll find that customers matter too. Quality comes out of an ecosystem that puts customers first, not a place of “make it fast and cheap." The best kind of customers, those who care enough to support quality with their money and attention, will always recognize (and appreciate) the difference.
Supporting quality is a virtuous cycle, and it takes a community of writers, clients, and consumers to make that cycle work. We can’t accept a race to the bottom where costs comes first and quality gets tossed out the window. Not in content or in any other aspect of our lives. Whenever a writer asks me for advice, I typically say the same thing: “Whatever you do, do it with the highest quality you can bring, no matter how long it takes or how hard it is. Clients and readers notice, and you'll notice that they notice. Quality should matter most.” What are your views on producing, and paying for, quality?