a graphical representation of Simba's five forces with 5 lions
A graphical representation of Simba's five forces
a picture of Simba mudonzvo, creator of simba's five forces
Simba Mudonzvo

Author of Simba's Five Forces, Simba's Content Matrix, 7Cs Digital Marketing mix, The Golden Circle of Customer Research and Content/Market Fit.

Simba's Five Forces

Simba’s Five Forces is a strategy for increasing traffic to your Website and Content.  It helps website owners by giving them a step-by-step process for creating valuable Content that attracts and increases website traffic. Simba’s five forces is an adaptation of the classical business strategy, Porter’s Five Forces, created by Michael Porter, of Harvard Business School.

Essentially, the Internet is a place where people (i.e. website traffic or web visitors or internet users) come to discover and find Content e.g. blog posts, videos, podcasts, quizzes, games, etc,.

Content is by far the best method of giving value and earning trust online. Therefore, if website owners want to attract and increase their web traffic they need to publish and promote Content. This is essentially what is referred to as Content Marketing.

Simba’s five forces is a step-by-step process that helps website owners know:

  • What Content to create
  • Why Content matters for their business and web visitors
  • Who they are competing with for attention on the internet
  • How to promote their Content for maximum reach and attention.
  • When and how often to publish Content

It helps businesses develop a winning Content Marketing strategy in the face of intense competition.

It’s the internet equivalent of a SWOT analysis for attracting website traffic using Content.

It helps you answer the key important question – “How do we increase our website traffic?”

Simba’s Five Forces is a simple but powerful tool for understanding the nature of website traffic (i.e. web visitors or internet users) and competition for attention on the Internet.

This is useful, because, when you understand the forces on the internet that can affect your ability to attract web traffic, you’ll be able to adjust your strategy accordingly.

 

a diagram showing Simba's Five Forces of Competition, People Power, Threat of New Content, Threat of Substitute Content, Bargaining Power of Content Creators and Content Platforms
a diagram showing Simba's Five Forces of Competition, People Power, Threat of New Content, Threat of Substitute Content, Bargaining Power of Content Creators and Content Platforms

Table of Contents

Dear Marketers

Dear Marketer

Do you ever wonder, as I always do, why other websites easily attract millions of web visitors and yet others, including yours, don’t?

What helps other websites always climb up all the way to the coveted top spot in the search results while millions of others, including yours, are dead and buried beyond page 2 of the Google search engine?

They say “Content is King“, and yet, the more Content we create,the less traffic we get because of intense competition and other factors beyond our control!

There must be something that make the difference!

There must be some type of a powerful force, or forces i.e. factors, that are pulling web traffic away from your website while pushing it towards your competitor’s website and Content.

These forces give seem to give “wings” to some Content making it go viral, but act like gravity when it comes to your Content, pulling it right down the search engine rankings and down the internet rabbit hole!

What are these forces?

What is the difference between a high traffic website and yours?

There are no secrets only known to a handful of marketers in the entire world about increasing web traffic.

And it is not that some marketers are more intelligent or talented than you.

The difference lies in what some marketers and website owners know about these forces and how they make the forces work for their websites and Content.

As soon as they publish new content, it immediately attracts large numbers of web traffic, it gets shared, it starts internet conversations, it starts to trend, influencers help spread the Content to more people and soon the Content makes its way to the top of the pile on high traffic websites.

Knowledge about these forces must be the difference, or else what could it be?

That is why I am writing to you about Simba’s five forces.

The whole purpose of Simba’s five forces is to give you knowledge about the factors i.e. forces that help you grow traffic to your website and Content.

Simba’s five forces will:

Help you grow your website.

Help you gain access to a massive new online audience and generate quality traffic for your website.

Help you figure out how to create Content that resonates with your target audience.

Help you create content that earns the trust of millions of people on the internet.

Help you sell more of your products/services on the internet.

A new method for marketing your business online.

You already know that the internet works very differently to the way business works in the traditional business world.

The classical business strategies e.g. Porter’s five forces, etc that are focused on competition do not work well on the internet.

I dare you to show me a successful digital marketer or startup or affiliate marketer or Content creator or website that has used classical business strategies in order to attract large numbers of traffic to their website?

It is true that there is no new thing on the Internet, so what makes Simba’s five forces, different to all the other information on the internet about how to increase traffic to your website?

You see, Simba’s five forces is a unique strategy.

It’s the only tool that can help any marketer, regardless of experience, skill or money to be able to do marketing on the internet. 

You don’t have to be an expert at SEO, or Google Ads, or Facebook Ads or Digital Marketer.

You just have to be willing to work hard and creatively at solving problems for people on the internet!

Just as Leonardo da Vinci encourages us all to make connections between everything else: Simba’s five forces is a connection of many dots i.e. time tested and proven theories, ideas and knowledge on how to increase traffic to your website including:

  1. Reasoning from first principles, Elon musk’s favourite way of thinking to solve hard solutions – You see, if you reason from 1st principles you realise that to solve your web traffic problem, you need to understand that at its core, the internet is made up of Content and People. The internet is one huge giant content marketplace, like an Amazon or Ebay for Content. So you need to create the right kind of content in order to attract the right kind of web visitor. 
  2. Ikigai: the Japanese concept referring to something that gives a person a sense of purpose, a reason for living – You see, if you have a deeper understanding of your target audience, you will create Content that resonates and connects with them at an emotional level, helping you win their hearts and wallets!
  3. Product/market fit: a concept that describes the stage of a startup company where they have successfully identified a target customer and are serving them with the right product – You see, as I said earlier, the internet is this one big giant content marketplace, where people exchange their time (and attention) for content. If you think about it, Content marketing (which is digital marketing) is when marketers take i.e. publish and promote Content to the market (people on the internet).  Content is the product on the internet, hence product/market fit for marketing is Content/market fit, describing when you have created Content that attracts a large number of web traffic.
  4. Crossing the chasm: where startups have to do something special to cross the ‘chasm’ i.e. the place where growth is stagnant and many startups die – You see, when you create Content to attract web traffic, initially it will struggle to attract large numbers of web traffic (usually some Content attracts zero traffic), but there comes a crossing point where your Content dies (gets zero web traffic) or crosses the ‘chasm’ and attracts a large number of web traffic. Usually this happens after you have achieved content/market fit. I have also observed that influencers and high-traffic websites (or content platforms) can help your Content cross this ‘chasm’ and help your Content (and brand) go mainstream.
  5. The Tipping Point: The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire – You see, similar to finding content/market fit, the holy grail of digital marketing (or specifically content marketing) is to create Content that reaches the tipping point much quicker than your competition. As you may realise, attention is the currency of the internet, and as Gary Vaynerchuk would say, “attention is still taken for granted,” – so creating Content that gets attention helps you reach the tipping point much quicker.

I have also borrowed ideas and concepts from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why, Michael E Porter’s five forces, BCGs growth-share matrix,  and many more.

I have done this to take out the guesswork into how to get and increase traffic to your website.

Most of us know what to do to attract and increase web traffic, we know why web traffic matters for our businesses, but we struggle with how to attract and increase website traffic – Simba’s five forces is the answer!

What are Simba’s five forces?

If you want to attract and increase traffic to your website, very simply focus on these 5 things:

  1. Create content that entertains or educate people. Content that delights, solves their problems, make them happy.
  2. Work with influencers (i.e. content creators) and high traffic websites to promote your content.
  3. Be mindful of your competition,
  4. as they can create new content or,
  5. publish different types of content (and style) on the same topic that steals away your website traffic.

I admit, it is  easier said than done.

Unlike many blog posts or videos or marketing courses or software that guarantee increased traffic, I cannot promise that Simba’s five forces will instantly bring you large numbers of web traffic, but I can guarantee it will make you a better marketer:

You will create content that makes a difference in people’s live s(no matter how small that difference is),

You will appreciate the importance of promoting your Content rather than waiting on luck and magic for your content to get noticed,

You will now find that there are many ways to present Content, giving you freedom to be more creative, and most importantly it will make you appreciate and understand what it takes to be successful on the internet.

If Obi-Wan Kenobi had heard about Simba’s five forces he would tell you, “May Simba’s five forces be with your website.”

Simba's Five Forces: A Summary

Simba’s five forces includes:

  1. People:  The strongest force of them all.  All your digital marketing efforts are to satisfy and earn the trust of your target audience. Failure to create useful Content that either entertains or educates your target audience will limit your chances of success at attracting website traffic.
  2. Influencers & High Traffic Websites: These 2 forces (or factors) are useful for promoting Content to reach your target audience quickly. Influences have a captive audience which they can influence and direct to your website. High traffic websites e.g. Amazon, Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube etc
  3. Competition: On the Internet, unlike in the traditional business environment, you compete for attention, therefore you can be competing with an individual or business in a different industry, with a different business model and have different goals, making competition very intense!
  4. New Content: About 2.5 quintillion bytes of data ,  are created and published onto the internet each day. New Content is constantly flooding the Internet making it harder to get attention and attract website traffic for your Content.
  5. Content Types: There are over 100s of types of Content  that can be published onto the Internet. This means that you can lose website traffic to different types of Content created by your competition. For example a 5,000 word long-form article could lose traffic to a list article on Buzzfeed, or a  3 minute video go viral versus a 1 hour in-depth video discussing the same topic!

Who can use Simba’s five forces:

Simba’s five forces can be influential for your:

porters five forces
A graphical representation of Porter's five forces model
Simba's Five Forces Diagram
A graphical representation of Porter's five forces model

Porter's Five Forces

Simba’s five forces model is an adaptation of Michael Porter’s Five Forces framework. Porter’s Five Forces analysis framework has stood the test of time, proving to be a robust method for analysing the nature of competition in any given industry.

In the traditional world, businesses compete for profits while on the Internet, businesses first have to  compete for attention before they can sell.

Classic business strategies do not work so well on the Internet because of the new trends, constant innovation, new internet businesses, different business models and new Content etc.

Classic business strategies work for businesses operating in stable and predictable environments. However, on the Internet, where the only constant is change, businesses need an ‘Adaptive’ strategy, a business strategy that is flexible, a business strategy that works despite constant changes to goals and tactics.

Porter’s five forces seeks to understand nature of competition in any given industry, Simba’s five forces seeks to understand nature of people and competition on the internet.

The five components of Porter’s five forces model:

  1. Bargaining power of suppliers has been replaced by bargaining power of Content creators and Content platforms (i.e. Search engines e.g. Google, Bing etc., Social Networks e.g. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok  etc.)
  2. Buyer power has been replaced by power of internet users (i.e. internet consumers, traffic, users,)
  3. Threat of substitution on the internet becomes threat of substitute Content types.
  4. Threat of new entry on the internet becomes threat of new Content.
  5. Competitive rivalry remains intense on the internet, but also on the internet you face in-direct competition i.e. Content from in-direct competitors that targets your audience’s attention but has different motivations and aims (different monetization business model). 

Simba's Five Forces vs Porter's Five Forces

It is inevitable that comparisons will be made between Simba’s Five Forces and Porter’s Five Forces.

I thought I should make it clear that both frameworks compliment each other, how so? A business of today has to operate in both the physical (industry) and the virtual (internet) world.

  • In the physical world, business focus on generating profits, while on the Internet, businesses need to focus on Web Traffic first before they can sell their product/services
  • In the physical world, businesses create products/services for sale while on the Internet businesses need to create Content first before they can sell their products/services.
  • In the physical world, you operate in an Industry while on the Internet you operate within a Topic (or Niche) for example, Apple operate in the mobile phone industry competing against Huawei, Samsung, Nokia etc but on the Internet, they create Content for topics such as Technology, Health & Fitness (Apple Watch), Sleep, etc.
  • In the physical world, a business has to contend with new businesses coming into their industry (new entry) while on the Internet, anyone with an Internet connection can create Content that gets attention.
stanford.edu depiction of trust on the internet

Simba's Five Force #1 - People Power

The Internet has changed the way organisations do business. The internet has altered and re-drawn the map of the global economy thereby making electronic commerce, one of the most important economic trends of our time. And to date, according to McKinsey, Covid-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point – and transformed business forever!” 

The internet is here to stay, and today and in the future, the Internet will play a significant role in determining business strategy.

The Problem With Doing Business On The Internet

The internet has changed so many aspects of people’s day-to-day life and advanced the way businesses operate i.e. the world has become more connected, communication has become instant and easier than before, people (especially workers) can collaborate while living in different geographic locations, businesses can sell online (e-commerce) and there is valuable information accessible to everyone, anywhere in the world, on any internet connected device.

However,

There is a lack of trust on the Internet.

The trust developed through continuous face-to-face interactions with a ‘brick and mortar’ business is qualitatively different from the trust developed Online. According to surveys, people naturally distrust information they find online.  Plus there is no regulation (albeit some form of censorship) of information published on the internet.

Doing the business on the Internet means creating Content to help build relationship with Internet users (Internet audiences, gain traffic etc)

Content/Market Fit

The People Power force is important because it helps you achieve Content/Market fit. Inspired by Product/Market Fit, a popular and important first step to building a successful startup in Silicon Valley, Content/Market fit, is the first step to successfully marketing your business on the Internet.

Content/Market fit is when your Content strongly attracts and increases website traffic. Content/market fit is when you finally find and attract a large number of the right (qualified) website traffic that engages with your Content. It is the result of successfully identifying the right target audience and serving them the right Content.

You know you have achieved content/market fit when your target audience (your ideal customers) are visiting your website in large growing numbers, engaging with your content on your website and on social media, and sharing your content with others as well as responding to your call to actions e.g. subscribing for a newsletter, buying a product, signing up for a free trial etc.

After finding content/market fit, marketers should feel confident to scale the content marketing either by paying to promote content on high traffic websites (content platforms e.g. google search or social networks e.g. Facebook) or pay influencers to promote their content (see Simba;s five forces #2)

You can measure product/market fit by having an in-depth and tangible understanding of who your target audience (potential customers) are, and how they feel about your brand and its content. Their perception of your expertise/authority and Content matters, as it can create loyalty or a dislike for your brand and Content.

You can carry out web surveys using tools from Hotjar or Survey Monkey or Type Form (even Google Sheets).

When you first publish Content, especially without a ready-waiting audience (subscribers, followers, fans etc) , your Content will attract less web traffic, but as web traffic increases so will your understanding of the value of your Content to that target audience, allowing you to scale your Content marketing efforts.

If possible, use the chat functions or do live video interviews, as website owners are encouraged to do one-to-one interviews with your web visitors to help you identify their problems, needs, and desires.

Because it allows you to:

  1. Scale your content marketing and increase your web traffic
  2. Monetize (make money by selling your products/services) the traffic since you have earned their trust
  3. Makes it hard for your competition to steal your target audience’s attention (and their business)

A lot of website owners create Content first without knowing who their target audience is or what are their needs – it’s akin to putting the cart before the horse!

  1. Determine your target audience (see Customer’s Ikigai or Golden Circle of Customer Research)
  2. Identify their Content needs i.e. preferred content type, content presentation/style, expectations, etc
  3. Define your Content value proposition
  4. Create and Publish content
  5. Promote it to a small set of your target audience (to test it)
  6. Gather feedback via surveys and interviews.

They say, when great Content meets the lousy (wrong) target audience, great Content loses (high bounce rates, negative feedback, low conversions, wasted costs/time). When lousy Content meets the right target audience, lousy Content still loses (high bounce rates, negative feedback, very low conversions). When great Content meets the right target audience – something special happens i.e. content/market fit.

You can sense it when content/market fit is not happening. The website traffic is remains low, and does not grow. You have high bounce rates i.e. web visitors leaving your web pages as soon as they arrive. No one is sharing the content. Web visitors are spending less time on the web page. Conversion rates are low, 

On the internet, words such as Traffic, Internet Users, Users, Customers, are used interchangeably.

This is the most powerful force of them all. All your content marketing strategy (and efforts) should be focused on the needs and wants of your target audience.

The reason why this force is powerful is because of word-of-mouth.

It is the people who will help you cross the internet chasm i.e. help your content reach mainstream (or go viral) by sharing it with friends, colleagues and family, therefore helping distribute your Content and brand.

Attention on the internet is a zero-sum game.

There is so much content on the internet that internet users have so much choice! And when internet users have so much choice, they have so much power! While one organisation or individual gains attention for their Content, on the other side of the Internet there is plenty more Content left with no attention. This phenomenon plays out in the Google search results, where over 92% of search traffic is concentrated on the 1st page only.

Furthermore, attention spans on the internet have decreased due to the large volumes of content on the internet. An article titled, “Global attention span is narrowing and trends don’t last long, study reveals,” by the Guardian newspaper, shows that internet users, wherever they are in the world can no longer to give your content too much time of the day.

The importance of Customer reviews

According to Business Insider, on Amazon, an online marketplace, positive reviews increase sales by 20%!  Furthermore, about 95% of customers read reviews before making a purchase on the Internet.

As mentioned earlier, people distrust the Internet. Customer reviews are a powerful way to reinforce and build trust with Internet users. Customers reviews are useful for both the consumers and organisations. For the consumer, a customer review helps them to make a purchase decision online, and they get insights from previous buyers that can confirm or deny their positive and negative feelings towards a product.

For an organisation, positive reviews, acts as word-of-mouth marketing as it encourages others to make purchases and negative reviews provide feedback on what an organisation can do to improve.

Testimonials matter too!

According to one study, the regular use of customer testimonials can help you generate roughly sixty-two percent more revenue not only from every customer but from every time they visit your brand.

The Power of Context

Traditional or classical business strategies focus on the business environment (or industry), however, on the Internet, there are no clear boundaries for business environments (or industry).

On the Internet, context is important. The power of context is the idea that the environment in which a message or idea is being delivered has a huge impact on whether people will respond to it positively.

Did you know that 97% of people on the Internet are not ready to buy from your business?

And yet, how many businesses join social networks and try to sell their products/services each time they post?

The reason why your ‘salesy’ Content is not getting attention is most likely because it is out-of-context. It’s too spammy. 

Taking time to learn about the Customer purchase journey helps you know what Content to share at which point in the Customer purchase journey.

wallstreet bets from esquire article simbas five forces

The Power of Internet Communities

Also known as Internet tribes, these are online communities or organisations of people that share a common interest and are affiliated to each other through social media e.g Reddit, Facebook Groups etc., and Internet forums.

These communities are like global citizens who think, behave and act in similar ways. They can help your Content reach its ‘tipping point’ or ‘cross the chasm’ by sharing it and promoting it for you via word-of-mouth.

But there are instances where Internet communities or tribes have wreaked havoc, a recent example being a community on Reddit called Wallstreetbets.

The Wallstreetbets community became a staging ground for a David vs Goliath (i.e. the financial establishment) battle. 

  1. Who is your target audience?
  2. What are the intentions of your target audience when they consume your Content? (i.e. User Intent, Searcher Intent, JTBD)
  3. Why does your Content matter to your target audience? (Customer’s Ikigai)
  4. How much web traffic do you think your Content or Web page or Website is worth?
  5. What is the impact (or cost) of your target audience not consuming your Content?
  6. What words (keywords) will your target audience use when they search for Content similar to yours? (i.e. Keyword research)
  7. What steps will your target audience have to take to discover your Content? (i.e. Customer Content Journey)
  8. What perception does your target audience have of your organisation/country/startup/business/brand?
  9. Are you perceived to be an authority or expert on the subject matter your Content addresses? (Or it doesn’t matter to your target audience?)
  10. What gut instinct or first impression will your target audience have when they come across your Content on the internet for the first time?
  11. What are the tangible and intangible benefits for your target audience when they consume your Content?
  12. Why would your target audience share (or tag or forward) your Content to their friends, family and colleagues?
  13. Are there any tangible or intangible incentives for your target audience to share or engage with your Content?
  14. Can your target audience give your feedback about your Content (e.g. comments, email, voice mail)?
  15. Can your target audience contribute to your Content? (UGC)
  16. What (will) does your target audience like or not like about your Content?
  17. Why does creating Content for your target audience matter to your organisation (business, startup, NGO, NPO, government etc)
  18. Can your target audience securely access your Content on any device, from any country, at anytime?
  19. Can you track how your target audiences discovers your Content (acquisition), how they behave and whether they take action after consuming your Content?
  20. How will you know you have achieved Content/Market Fit or reached the Content Marketing tipping point or have crossed the Content Marketing Chasm?

Simba's Five Force #2 - Power of Influencers & Content Platforms

Influencers i.e. Content creators and High traffic websites i.e. usually Content platforms,  have a Yin and yang relationship, that is, Content platforms e.g. TikTok, Instagram, need Content creators to attract audiences (traffic), and Content creators need Content platforms to distribute their Content.

A Content platform would not survive without Content creators, and Content creators would not survive without the support of a Content platform.

The essence of this force is the distribution of Content on the Internet to reach its target audience. This is popularly known as Content Marketing, which is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable Content on the Internet.

Content by itself is merely valuable until it is consumed (read, viewed, heard, used etc.) and distribution i.e. Content marketing, is how Content reaches its target audiences for consumption.

Power of Influencers.

Influencers or Content creators are individuals e.g. PewDiePie or businesses e.g. T-Series that create content for a living.

Content creators usually have a captive audience which trusts them.

Influencer marketing is when organisations pay Content creators for access to their captive audiences.

The less Content creators available the more power bargaining power they have over organisations. For example it becomes more expensive to access and market to their captive audiences. 

Other Content creators i.e. freelancers, produce good quality content for cheap so much so any organisation can purchase such content, but so can your competition, which usually results in low quality Content.

Some topics (niches) have very few experts/authorities so even though they charge high prices, the content they produce will get you attention in the relevant niche/industry. 

Ideally an organisation would want to have Content creators in-house i.e. within your own organisation, so that you have competitive advantage via leveraging their expertise. For example, at the height of the financial crisis, on financial TV shows such as Bloomberg and CNBC you would often see popular Economists from Investment Banks giving their opinions and commentary on the economy.

Power of High-Traffic Websites (Content Platforms)

Any place on the internet where you can post or share your content for a fee or for free is what is referred to herein as a Content Platform. Social networks i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, are such examples. They do not create their own content, but they help you create distribute your content. 

Content platforms, unlike Content aggregators, also give Content creators tools and knowledge to help them create Content.

Content platforms use algorithms i.e. sophisticated methods of determining which Content gets the most attention at any given moment. These algorithms determine how long, how popular your content can be while on their platform. 

Algorithms can help your Content get attention e.g. ranking number 1 on Google search for a commercial search term (Did you know Page 1 of Google captures a whopping 95% of all search traffic?) or can starve your Content of attention by relegating your Content to beyond page 1. (There is an SEO joke that the best place to hide a Dead Body is page 2 of Google, Why? Because no one ever goes page 1 of Google, unless you are desperately desperate!)

Google is constantly changing and tweaking their search algorithm, so one day your content could be in the top ten search results, and the next, it’s dead and buried beyond the first page! 

Another good example how an algorithm change can impact the attention (and traffic) you get is that of a popular Facebook page, Little Things – They were a popular Facebook page which was getting a lot of attention and internet traffic to their website, and one algorithm change later, they lost almost all of their traffic (attention) overnight! 

In essence, Content platforms, like Google and Facebook, are Content marketplaces – a place where Internet users come to exchange their time (attention) for Content (entertainment, education etc).

The Tipping Point

In the words of Malcolm Gladwell, the tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. The tipping point considers why certain products, diseases, or ideas become viral. 

It is also true that for some marketers, that, their Content e.g. videos, blog posts, etc can cross a certain threshold and become viral, and spread like wildfire on the internet. I call this the Content tipping point.

What is the Content tipping point?

Content tipping point is that magic moment when your Content reaches a large number of your target audience and it spreads (is shared) like wildfire on the internet.

The importance of Influencers and High Traffic websites to helping you reach the Content Tipping Point

Although Malcolm Gladwell considers the importance of context in products, diseases or ideas becoming viral he also places emphasis on the importance of the types of people who are integral to spreading ideas or diseases.

“There are exceptional people out there who are capable of starting epidemics. All you have to do is find them.”

– Malcolm Gladwell.

Connectors, Mavens & Salespeople

There are 3 types of people Malcolm Gladwell identified as integral to helping spread ideas, these are Connectors, Mavens and Salespeople.

Connectors are people with a vast social network, which allows them to spread ideas to a vast number of people in a short period. Connectors know how to effectively communicate with lots of different people and Malcolm Gladwell  reminds readers of the social experiment from the 1960s. Scientists found out that every person in the world is connected to everyone else through just a few people.

On the Internet, I would like to think influencers (Content creators) are the equivalent of these connectors. Just like connectors, Influencers,  by nature have influence over a large number of people, their captive audience in their social network. They are mostly on social networks. Influencers are trusted by their followers, and there is a special relationship between influencers and their followers.

This is why I have included influencers as one of Simba’s five forces because they can help your content reach a wider audience via influencer marketing.

Malcolm Gladwell talks about Mavens as people who obtain information and pass it on. Malcolm Gladwell says Mavens have a significant part to play in the spreading of information, as they are knowledgeable about many topics, therefore always gaining new information and making links between this information and their knowledge. He adds that Mavens have advanced social skills  which allows them to pass their information to others efficiently and quickly therefore people trust them for recommendations and see them as a reliable source of information.

You see, High traffic websites (or content platforms) are like Mavens. Just like Google or Facebook, these websites do not create Content of their own, but they obtain and collect Content and pass it on to their audiences efficiently and quickly.

They use algorithms to filter and determine which Content matters to their audiences. These algorithms play a key role in determining the amount of web traffic you will receive.

I see Salespeople, as the good marketers who you can pay to bring you high qualified web traffic. These marketers can help you create ‘irresistible offers,’ create landing pages that are optimized for high conversions and create PPC campaigns that generate traffic and sales.

So in  simple terms, if you want to increase your website traffic, work with influencers and high traffic websites.

Simba's Five Forces #3 - Existing Competition

Content is what attracts people (traffic) to the Internet while links help people discover new content. The Google search engine was created based on this premise.

On the Internet, it’s all about ATTENTION.

In essence, this force is about Organisations competing for attention on the Internet. Content is the most popular medium of exchange for attention.

The competition force evaluates the number of direct and indirect competitors for any given topic/industry as well as analyse their content marketing activities.

Who dominates the search results for a given keyword on Google and YouTube?

Who is dominating social media conversations for a given topic/industry?

Whose Content is getting the most attention on the internet?

Who are our direct and in-direct competitors?

These are one of many questions organisations (and digital marketers) need to ask themselves when evaluating their competition on the internet.

Whichever organisation or individual has the most attention wins – wins the customer, wins the leads, wins the sales etc. But, as Gary Vaynerchuk decries, most companies (large and small) take attention for granted!

On the internet, you have two types of competitors i.e. there are direct competitors, these are companies that operate in the same industry as your organisation and also create content for the same target customers as yours. 

Usually most organisations know and track their direct competitors. 

What about indirect competitors?

Indirect competitors are individuals or organisations that create content for topics (or niches) that matter to your target customers but with different aims.

They are the bigger threat, because they do not have the same business goals as your organisation i.e. you could be creating content to generate sales while your indirect competitors could be creating content for the fun of it! Or for Fame (clout)! 

An example of this is let’s say the Zimbabwe tourism industry, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) will consider other tourist destinations e.g. South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, as direct competitors.

However, they have bigger competition for attention on the internet from indirect competitors such as TripAdvisor or individuals but very popular bloggers e.g. Nomadic Matt (a blogger) or Instagram Influencers or Travel vloggers. 

If the competition is intense, it will reduce the attention your content get, diminish the value of your content, and ultimately affect your ability to sell your products/services on the internet!

Competition is intense if:

  • There is too much direct and indirect competition
  • The content topics are not interesting or too technical (considered boring by many internet users at large)
  • It is cheap to create content for digital marketing

Some topics (niches) have intense competition e.g. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)/Digital Marketing vs others. 

Some topics (niches) are seasonal i.e. people tend to do want content at different times/seasons of the year. E.g. Health and Fitness topics (niches) tend to see more internet traffic at the beginning of the year when people set their new year’s resolutions. 

To get more attention you need to: 

● Be an authority/expert or trusted source of information within the industry/topic(niche). Google has placed emphasis on content from organisations or individuals who have expertise, authority and are trusted (E.A.T) to create content for a particular topic (niche). These are topics that could affect a person’s life in a significant way. I recommend you read Marie Haynes’ article about E.A.T for more information.

● Create branded and evergreen content e.g. Forbes Rich List, is branded and evergreen content. 

● Achieve Content/Market Fit i.e. you create content that meets a Customer’s ikigai.

Simba's Five Forces #4 - Threat of New Content

Since the beginning of the internet, the volume of information has been growing exponentially. There is a Content (Information) overload. Forbes estimates that there are 2.6 quintillion bytes of data created each day.

This means, within your industry or niche,the threat of new content displacing yours is high.

All that is needed really is an internet connection and a smartphone or laptop, and anyone, from anywhere in the world, can create content that competes with yours. 

While you spend money on graphic design, advertising on Social Media etc, there is a person with a phone and some data, who can press the ‘LIVE’ button and go viral!

A good example of this is with the Covid-19 pandemic, back in early 2020, there was not much content about Covid-19, but now, in 2021, going through the 3rd wave, try to create new Covid-19 pandemic and see if you will get any attention….

Any topics (niches) that are popular or trending tend to attract the most new content. 

There are some topics (niches) that are no longer popular and therefore have less competition but they also get less attention. 

Barriers to entry (How to stop threat of new Content)

Branded Content

Forbes Rich ListGartner’s Magic Quadrant are examples of branded content that is relatively immune to the threat of new content. 

Expert Content

Content that demonstrates a high level of Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness (E.A.T) will attract attention and get help from content platform algorithms to rank high in the search results and people’s social network timelines.

In some industries/topics (niches) such as the health, unless you can demonstrate E.A.T it is difficult to gain attention on the internet.

In the USA, WebMD and NIH (National Institutes of Health) have high levels of expertise, authority and are trusted, therefore their content gets more attention versus others. 

Creative Content

This type of content is usually created by individuals (i.e. influencers, content creators), who create unique content for their audiences, and this cannot be copied and replicated elsewhere.  

Evergreen Content

Evergreen Content is content that is continues to be relevant and ‘fresh’ for readers (or viewers or listeners) over a long period of time. Its the type of Content that continues to be relevant long past its 1st publication date. Examples of evergreen Content include ‘How To’ Guides and product reviews.

High Production Costs

Some content is free and cheap to create i.e. writing a blog posts using WordPress or Google’s Blogger, creating memes using meme generators  etc while other content is expensive to make i.e. creating a video documentary, or a short film etc.

However there are companies like Canva and Kapwing that are reducing the costs, time and difficulty of creating video or social media content of a high quality production. 

Creating Content at scale (using AI and Tools) 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now making it possible to create Content at scale. Only large organisations can afford to leverage AI and latest Content creation tools to scale their Content production. 

It should be noted that some organisations the threat of having NO new Content will lose them attention. These organisations thrive on creating new content everyday e.g. News websites, so not creating new Content loses them attention over time.

It’s also a force that can overwhelm Content creators leading to burnout as they have to continuously create new Content to attract and retain audiences (to keep attention!)

Simba's Five Forces #5 - Threat of Substitute Content

There are at least 100+ types of Content.

Your business could hire a writer and he/she will produce a 10,000 word (long form) detailed article and yet, someone or another organisation can turn that 10,000 word blog post into a list or meme and gain more attention (and go viral) than you! 

This is the reality of the internet – there is more than one way to skin the cat!

Some content types e.g. memes, lists, video are more popular versus others!

In the business world, airlines have substitutes in cars, train, ferries and the railway. 

On the internet, your content faces threats from other types (formats) of content – it could be a beautiful infographic that better presents the idea and concepts than your article, or a meme, that captures the essence of your article better than your 10,000 word article or a video that tells the story better and is more engaging than your article. 

To counter this force, repurpose your content into different content formats so as to counter the threat of substitute content types. For example, instead of just creating only a 10,000 word article, you can then create a listicle, memes, gifs, videos and infographics – all based off of that 10,000 article. 

At present, popular Content types are Video (especially vertical short-form videos) and Podcasts.

simba's five forces content creators

How To Use Simba's Five Forces

Simba’s five forces is useful for any organisation that conducts its business over the Internet. It’s a strategic tool.

Digital marketers (and Content Marketers) and Content Creators use Simba’s five forces framework when choosing a Content Marketing strategy i.e. what Content to produce, how to best promote it, etc.

Affiliate marketers and SEO professionals should use Simba’s five forces to determine the attractiveness of a niche (even keywords) before creating content.

Organisations are encouraged to use the golden circle of internet customer research to have a better and deeper understanding of their target audiences.

While, Simba’s Content Matrix is a useful tool for quickly assessing and measuring your Content marketing activities.

an image showing netflix open showing information about stranger thingsq

Simba's Five Forces: Netflix Example

Netflix is a leading Internet streaming service that offers a wide variety of award-winning TV shows, movies, anime, documentaries and more. To date, Netflix, has 200+ million paying members.  

  • Netflix has 77 million Facebook fans and they help promote Netflix Content by sharing it with friends and family.
  • Internet users play an important role in encouraging or discouraging others to join Netflix by leaving reviews of shows on Facebook and YouTube.
  • Netflix users can share their Netflix accounts with family and friends thereby helping to promote the Netflix brand.
  • Netflix relies on Content Platforms e.g. Facebook, YouTube for marketing its Content i.e. upcoming Netflix shows.
  • Netflix are available on most major Content Platforms therefore even if Facebook or Instagram are down they are still able to connect with fans on other social network websites.
  • Content creators help promote Netflix shows by doing reviews on YouTube e.g. Chris Stuckmann on Stranger Things Season 3
  • Other Content creators make and share memes of popular Netflix shows therefore promoting Netflix Content.
  • Netflix benefits from having actors in its original shows promote Netflix to their millions of fans.
  • Netflix has direct competition (i.e. companies with similar business models) from Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, AppleTV+, Paramount+ and even illegal video streaming piracy websites (In 2019, TechCrunch reported that Netflix may be losing $192M per month from piracy)
  • Intense competition from other Internet streaming services has resulted in ‘Content Wars’ i.e. Netflix and its competitors having to spend billions of dollars in new content to attract and retain subscribers.
  • Netflix also has in-direct competition (i.e. companies that compete with Netflix for attention but with very different business goals/models) from Facebook Watch
  • Content platforms such as Facebook and TikTok are investing money into Content creators to compete with Netflix for attention on the Internet.
  • Although high production costs act as a barrier of entry for new Content, a hit show or film from Netflix’s competitors could impact it’s subscriber growth
  • The threat of new Content and demand from subscribers for new Content (this demand was exaggerated during Covid-19 lockdowns) puts pressure on Netflix to keep investing and spending on New Content.
  • Studies show that limited access to paid video streaming services contributes to people turning to piracy websites.
  • Netflix risks losing subscribers to live streaming of sport e.g. English Premier League, NFL, NBA, etc as an alternative to Netflix shows and films.
Simba's content matrix

Simba's Content Matrix :How To Measure Your Content Marketing Performance.

Simba’s content matrix (“SCM”) was inspired by the BCG Growth-share Matrix, a famous corporate analysis tool created by Bruce Henderson for the Boston Consulting Group.

The matrix is a planning tool that marketers should use to make graphical representations of a company’s Content in an effort to help the company decide whether to invest in Content Marketing or other types of digital marketing activities such as Pay Per Click and SEO.

The matrix helps marketers compare and see which Content is performing best and helping meet business values.

The matrix also helps marketers easily and quickly communicate their digital marketing results to senior stakeholders e.g. CEO, CMOs. It also helps marketers decide how to prioritize their different Content.

Simba’s Content matrix  is built on the logic that getting large amounts of traffic results in superior business value  i.e. conversions such as  sales, signups, subscribers, fans, followers, engagement etc.

The four cells of Simba’s content matrix have been called stars, cash cows, question marks and sick horses.

Simba's Content Matrix: Explained

Stars represent Content that attracts a large amount of web traffic as well as having high conversions, thereby helping the organisation meets its goals. Stars also represent Content that is about a new, popular and trending topic (niche or industry) that is attracting a lot of attention and web traffic.

Cash Cows represent Content that does not attract a large amount of web traffic but still has high conversions, therefore proving to be profitable or lucrative for the business. Cash cows also represents Content that is for a topic (niche or industry) that is considered mature and stable i.e. its not trending, considered boring or technical. This kind of Content does not attract a large amount of web traffic, but when it does, that web traffic is usually qualified and worth it weight in gold!

Cash cows tend to be ‘evergreen’ content i.e. content that lasts, content that continues to attract relative traffic and get high conversions long after its been published. Evergreen content just like trees,that never lose their leaves regardless of the change of seasons. In terms of web traffic and business value, evergreen content never loses a residual level of traffic and continues to add value to the business. Some examples of evergreen content  are how to guides.

Evergreen content stays fresh in the eyes of its reader/listeners/viewers   

Question marks represent Content that attracts a large amount of web traffic, just like the Stars, but has no business value yet! i.e. zero-to-conversions. Most new Content published on the internet starts out as Question marks, and marketers should find out (using tests etc) how to make the Content add value to the business. Question marks Content often needs to be optimized for conversions Conversion Rate Optimization or CRO is what is required for this kind of Content.

Sick Horses represent Content that has zero to low traffic and has no business value. I call this kind of Content sick horses because once a horse is seriously ill and in agony, usually it gets killed to put it out of its misery. On the internet, this is often called dead content, and has no business value and is better off being deleted/unpublished.

Simba's Content Matrix: Limitations

Web traffic is not clearly defined. Traffic could be qualified i.e. the right kind of traffic the business wants or unqualified i.e. the wrong kind of web traffic. It Is possible for Content to attract large amounts of traffic but the wrong type of traffic (unqualified traffic). This usually happens on the internet where some Content (e.g. corporate images which end up as memes) gets attention and goes viral for the wrong reasons

Some Content can attract large amounts of web traffic and is useful for branding purposes.

Sick horses’ content sometimes can be useful if repurposed and converted to another content type or format. For example, there were websites with low traffic but then converted their blog articles into video and the videos attracted a lot of views.

The SCM is too simplistic at time.

Simba's Five Forces: Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q)

Simba’s five forces is a new strategic tool for doing business on the Internet. It is also a Digital Marketing (i.e. Content Marketing) strategic tool. It is a framework  for analyzing what Content people want and a company’s competitive environment on the Internet.

Simba’s Five Forces helps organisations to understand the factors affecting their Digital Marketing efforts when conducting business on the internet, specifically it relates to Content Marketing. Simba’s Five Forces can help to inform Content Marketing Strategy. 

Simba’s Five Forces focuses on Content because Content is the best way to build relationships on the Internet and earn their trust.

Strategic Digital marketers often use Simba’s five forces to understand what Content customers want and understand the competition for getting attention for Content.

The five forces are:

  1. Power of Internet Users
  2. Power of Content Creators & Content Platforms
  3. Competitive rivalry
  4. Threat of New Content
  5. Threat of New Entry

Any organisation or individual (Content Creator, Affiliate Marketer)  who conducts business on the Internet (i.e. owns a website, has a social media presence etc) is encouraged to use Simba’s five forces model as a strategic tool.

To define your Content Marketing Strategy (Digital Marketing Strategy), analyse what your target audience wants and also analyse the competition.

Simba’s Five Forces:

  1. Power of Internet Users. Find out what Content resonates with your target audience.
  2. Power of Content Creators & Content Platforms. Content Creators own and influence (influencer marketing) a ‘captive audience‘ and can can be an obstacle to your Content reaching their audience (also your target audience). Content Platforms like Google and Facebook use algorithms that can affect the attention an organisation’s Content gets on their platforms
  3. Competitive Rivalry. An organisation has to look at the number and strength of its direct and in-direct existing competitors.
  4. Threat of New Content. Consider how easy it is for your competition to create and publish new Content that takes attention from your organisation’s Content
  5. Threat of Substitute Content Types. Consider the likelihood that your audience prefers a different type of Content e.g. video vs text article.

“Power of Internet Users” is the strongest of Simba’s Five Forces because according to Simba, its creator, “word-of-mouth especially on Social Media is still the #1 way to spread the word about your Content (and Brand) on the internet”

Simba Mudonzvo, a digital marketing coach and speaker.

Michael Porter’s Five Forces model. Simba’s Five Forces model is for any organisation with an internet presence e.g. a website, a social media profile/page.