Nearly every piece of advice you read about content and inbound marketing includes the words “great” and “content” in sequence or at least in close proximity. I am all for great content – great content whether whimsical or serious or funny or informative or entertaining or whatever is, well, great.

And great is good. It’s the goal. Right?

Well, I’m starting to think maybe not entirely.

Here’s the problem as I see it.

Great versus useful content for content marketingLet’s all be honest here for a moment – there is a limited number of folks in any particular field of endeavor who are legitimately “great.” I can write better than many, on a good day, maybe even most folks. Does that make me “great?” I’ve got an ego, but, I’m also honest with myself.

I’m gonna go with nope.

Let’s take the NFL as an example – a few months ago 250-odd college players were drafted by the 32 NFL teams. Every one of those players can do things physically most of us can’t.

Yet, measured against each other, only a handful will be “great” or were “great” at the college level. Some of the players who weren’t very good in college will become good or even “great” in the NFL. But there have been thousands of players in the NFL in its history – there’s only a handful of greats.

Music. Food. Movies. Actors. Doctors. TV Shows. Etcetera, etcetera. There are a few greats, some goods, lot of average, and then a mass of suckage.

This Isn’t Great, So I’m Going to Wait

What I’m finding is that I’ve had to shut off all of this “great” talk. Trying to be great can freeze you into immobility. If you’re trying to start in content marketing, you’re not going to be great from the beginning (most of the time). You’ve gotta work at it. Practice. Plan. Write. Think. Apply. Repeat.

Going for greatness out of the gate can really freak you out. I’ve found myself stuck many times thinking “This has gotta be great. Maybe if I do just a little bit more research or rewriting or think about it just another day.” You do that for a week and you’re going to have some pissed off clients (in our case) when you start missing deadlines.

Fine, so just push shit content out there, Duhon. Moron, YOU’RE part of the crap deluge problem that’s making content marketing collapse under its own weight. Well, maybe, I hope not – and I’m not saying to settle. My point is, focusing on something different can eventually help you be great.


I’m going to say that instead of struggling with being great, focus on being useful and you might get to great.

When it comes to content marketing, being useful can be great for your audience regardless of whether the content could be objectively considered great by virtue of writing style, design, or whatever.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive for greatness or constant improvement; that ain’t my point. I’ll never be able to run a 40 yard dash in 4.5 seconds (what WOULD it feel like to be able to run that fast?) or shove a large, angry 300 pound man out of my way, but I hope I’m a better writer and sharper thinker than I was 10 years ago and I hope I’m even better at both in another 10 years.

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