B2B Content Marketing & Miniskirts. How long should your content be?

So how long should your marketing content be?  In their excellent book, Content Rules, C.C. Chapman and Ann Handley made me laugh with their response… “Content is like a miniskirt.  Make it long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep it interesting.” I love that metaphor… provocative and right on the money.

Exactly how long is enough to cover the essentials?

Well, ironically the answer is less about the topic and more about your audience. If you are producing a video on the pitfalls of marketing automation targeted toward mid-market CEO’s, you’d better get there pretty quick and tie back the impact to their world… maybe one, two minutes max. BUT, if you are educating Marketing Directors at large organizations who would be directly responsible for implementing (and not messing up) a marketing automation solution, then you’ll probably need to dive pretty deep or else the viewer will feel short changed. It’s pretty tough to give a thorough analysis on that topic in less than five minutes. Heck, if the information is truly valuable, you’d have marketers lined up at your door to watch an entire hour-long webinar on the topic. The point here is to know who you're speaking to before deciding how long it should be.

Another factor is where the prospect is in their buying journey... more specifically, where are they in their relationship with YOU!  Just like a real life courtship, start small and work your way up to the deep long talks.  I will regularly read 10+ pages of something put out by MarketingSherpa because I learn so much.  They make me a better marketer.  But, I would likely not commit that much time and energy to reading someone's content if I have never heard of them before.

How short must you be to be interesting?

Certainly the same rule we just discussed applies here… know your audience first. But to be interesting requires more than brevity. To be interesting you must be provocative and stir up new thinking, which is why this metaphor works so well.

You can be provocative with images (eh hem, mini-skirt pics) to get someone’s attention, but ultimately it will be the content itself that people will judge… did your white paper help the solve a problem?  Did your video help them see their problem in a new light?  Use your authentic voice and talk about the business challenges your prospects face and forget the jargon and marketing speak.

Last point... just because you have A.D.D. doesn't mean all of your prospects do  and/or just because you actually read every word of every article you download doesn't mean your prospects will.   Be brief?!?! Yeah, that makes sense, but more important… be interesting!