According to a study published in Marketing Science, it turns out that there is a certain amount of truth in the statement “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” While this obviously has application for PR, it could also be relevant for a thorny subject among modern marketers – the quality vs. quantity content debate.

The producers of the study found that operating as if you can’t be hurt by bad publicity depends on two things:

  1. The level of existing brand awareness within the target market.
  2. The time difference between the publicity event and the purchase event.

While familiar products have “strong memory networks” enabling recall of specific details, unknown products have “little existing cognitive structures,” which makes it “harder to incorporate and recall new information” – such as that arising from bad publicity – particularly once a period of time has elapsed.

In other words, the research indicated that if a brand is struggling for awareness, and there is a time-lapse between a publicized event and a purchase, then there really is no such thing as bad publicity.

If content can act as a form of publicity in modern digital marketing, does the quality of content serve as a proxy for ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ publicity? That’s where the debate over the importance of quality versus quantity comes into the picture.

Quantity over quality

In support of the argument for quantity, one interpretation of the study could be that it’s more important to publish frequently than to ensure every piece of content published is top quality, with the exception of market-leading brands. This is because most published content impacts brand awareness more than brand image. With this in mind, quality should only be a concern at later stages of the funnel, when brand image is more of a factor.

However, from the quality side of the fence, it could be argued that modern digital channels make it difficult to fully control which content will be consumed close to the purchase point, which is where negative publicity can hurt even relatively unknown brands. For B2B marketers, the buyer journey involves a variety of conversion points – the completion of a download form, for example – and the study doesn’t account for the time lapse that exists between initial consumption of the content and when the buyer chooses to act upon it.

Therefore, the study doesn’t resolve the debate of quality versus quantity, but don’t despair! There is a practical application of this research that you can apply to your content development process, namely that you should build your content assets from the mid-bottom funnel up. Here’s how to do it:

Bottoms up

The study findings show the importance of publicity close to a purchase event, in support of the view that the later stages of the funnel are where leads will be most impacted by the quality of the content. Put simply, it’s worth investing in high-quality content close to purchase point. This is where third-party experts such as analysts, senior writers, and experienced editors should be engaged. Having invested a lot of time and money to generate leads, it would be a huge mistake to have them leak out of the funnel because of an ill-conceived or poorly executed content asset intended for the middle or bottom stages of the funnel!

But what about leads close to purchase interacting with content intended for the top of the funnel? What if they are turned off by an inadvertent blog or a tweet?

First things first

This is why it’s important to build up a content portfolio from the foundation of mid-bottom funnel content. Once these “flagship” content assets have been created, you now have an established base of quality that can be repurposed across all channels and tactics. Win!

The top-of-funnel phases require a large quantity of content to ensure brand awareness. Good tactics include investing in a content curation platform, adopting a content management system that makes it a breeze to publish to owned properties, and bringing on a 24/7 social media content team.

Most importantly, the foundation for all of these efforts should be high quality content created for the mid-bottom funnel. Flagship content should be the basis for refining curation platform results, creating the stimulus for a blog series, or repurposing as Slideshare presentations, infographics, and other social content.

Everyone on the team should live and breathe the flagship content before they riff on them in their channels. Working in this way, a modern marketer can get the most from their content development dollars, by generating quantity from quality.