Why do more when you can achieve even more with less? Allan Mogensen of Work Simplification famously said, “work smarter, not harder.” At Fastlane, we completely agree and believe quality always triumphs quantity when it comes to increasing mind, market and heart share.

Businesses, big and small, continue to ramp up their content marketing efforts. There’s seemingly exponential promotional chatter rattling around the traditional, digital and social airwaves more than ever before. I often catch myself advising our clients that everyone’s talking, but no one is listening. Or, we have 57 channels – but nobody is tuning in or clicking through. Why is this the case?

Now for the culprit. Or, at least, one of the biggest factors is that well-intentioned marketeers and communications professionals feel compelled to maintain the status quo or keep piling on. They live by the notion that somehow doing more will lead to more – more clicks, more retweets, more editorial placements, more followers, more customers and ultimately, of course, more growth.

It’s not that simple. Peppering your constituents with yet another piece of blah, blah, blah is not going to magically yield different results. Major car manufacturers and banks are the worst offenders. Returns on their large-scale direct marketing and expensive TV advertising campaigns are ridiculously tiny, on average, yet they persevere. They swim in a sea of mediocrity. Another way to look at it is the “more” effort often makes you look good in front of your client or boss in the short term, while the “better” effort leads to more meaningful and sustainable results over the long haul.

As we begin to prepare our marketing and communications strategies, plans and budgets for 2017, I believe a correction is in order. It’s time to reflect and gain a better understanding about what your constituents want or need to hear, read and/or see. Take your finger off that send button and the content creation process. Focus your attention on the discovery, insight and analytics before you develop a data-driven content marketing strategy that is scalable and measureable.

Assess what’s working and what’s not. Further research where and how your customers, prospects and partners are securing information relevant to your company or industry. Ask the hard questions: Are your core value proposition and key messages truly differentiated?  Does your communications reinforce distinct values or a greater purpose? Are we communicating through our customers’ or prospects’ medium of choice? Is our marketing memorable or is it award winning?

Stop and ask, “Why are we doing this again?”  Would anyone really notice if we cancelled this campaign or program? If the answer is no, there is your answer. It may be time to switch gears and develop a strategy you’ll be proud of in 2017.  Opt for quality over quantity. Everyone’s over-stuffed inboxes, mailboxes and brains will thank you.

Chris Faust