Even the most knowledgeable content marketing professionals won't look you in the eye and tell you content is king. If they should try, ask them what kingdom it actually reigns over. Whatever comes out of their mouth next will be bullshit. No wait. That's not nice. It'll be a fairytale.
Content is not king. It's not queen. If you need to give content marketing a royal appointment, Jack is the word, Jack.
You see, the jack is a servant of the king. And in my deck of cards, that's perfect because content serves the king.
So who's the king?
The customer is the king. The customer has needs. You serve them with content.
The customer has preferences. They prefer to do business with brands they know, like and trust. They come to know you when you offer useful content. They come to like you when they enjoy your content. And they come to trust you when your content is credible, consistent, and free.
The customer has friends. They recommend stuff to their friends. They do this by referring to your content and sharing it (when they know about it, like and trust it).
The customer is what you need to have a business in the first place. The customer is your best sales person. The customer gets you more customers. In the social media environment of today, the things your customers say about your brand IS your brand.
There are your keys to the kingdom.
Let's hash this stuff out together. Use #CMMinds anytime to make comments or counterpoints, add your ideas and ask questions. I'm listening.
Dethroning the king who isn't.
I want you to stop reading content which claims content is king. These me-too articles simply explain how important it is to embrace content marketing. You already know that or you wouldn't be reading my column about content marketing.
Read the stuff that explains why content is not king. Read the stuff that helps you understand how to cash in on content marketing... How to create great content... How to get prospects to find and share your content.
I just did that. Here are some of the jewels I found.
Strategy, execution, and talent reign supreme. In a post on his blog, Hammock explains that "content is usually the least important part" of content marketing strategy. Instead, marketers need to focus on the "incredibly detailed work that goes into understanding the essence of a client's true business objective," as well as "understanding everything there is to know about the person on the other side of the transaction."
From econsultancy, by Damon Regusa:
Relevance is the goal. Content marketing adds to enterprise value by sustaining a measure of relevancy with people who engage with it in order to sell more products and services for the first time and over time.
The highlights three content marketing programs from companies that get it:
- American Express OPEN Forum
- Table Spoon from General Mills
- Patagonia's The Cleanest Line
You think these companies worship content? They don't. They task talented content creators to create great content because they worship customers. So they have put in the effort required to figure out who their customers are and what they value.
The king is customer experience. Give customers what they want when they want it, support them in new and innovative ways, make their lives better, and do this all at a reasonable value, and your brand wins. If you get the customer experience right, consumers will spread the word for you. Think of how you first learned about Amazon, Google, the iPhone, Instagram, Square, Facebook, Twitter and Zappos--was it from brand content or was it from friends and family?
Make meaning... Just like a billboard is a flat surface, content is just something that's expressed, until it creates meaning for people. Yes, more than 300 million people read blogs every month, but they're not actually searching for content.
Don't set out to simply create content. Inspire, delight, inform, educate, be generous, move people, help them to belong and to matter. Go make meaning instead.
Audience is the King!
It's really about the audience nowadays. As a content provider (blogger, marketer or otherwise), you can make your best effort to serve quality content to your audience. However, it entirely depends on them on what content they choose. Unfortunate as it is, I know of several blogs and marketers who produced stellar content but lost their way simply because they didn't pay enough attention to their audience.
What you need is attention.
I hope you stop propagating the myth that sitting in a corner somewhere with a pen and paper is enough to succeed as a writer. It's not. It may be enough to feed your creative spirit (which is completely valid), but it's not enough to sell books, start a business, or have your words, ya' know, actually read by another human being. What you need is attention. And the only way to do that is to get in front of people, to build relationships. You are going to have to market.
And finally, this is an entire post by Chris Brogan (one of content marketing's best "Jacks.")
Content is not king. You are. (or Queen.) Content is currency. You're the king.
Content is a means to deliver interest. It's a gathering place for you and the people you hope to entertain/attract/educate/equip. That doesn't make it the king.
Kings rule. Kings make hard decisions. Kings try to maintain the balance of the good of the country (you history buffs pipe down; it's my story). Kings do have egos, by the way. It's part of being kingly.
But content? That's treasure. That's salve. That's wood for the fireplace around which great stories are told.
Work hard on content, but focus on relationships. Be a good king. Be a servant. Be a steward to your people. And use content well.
Did the king of crazy write this?
I know, my column is called, "Content Marketing Minds." I write and speak about content marketing daily. I get paid to consult on the subject. And here I am, fresh out of the 2014 gate stripping the holy grail of online marketing of its holy hoopla.
Please, don't get me wrong. Content is royally vital. The decade or so now in our rear view has proved content marketing to be all-important. I'm down with that.
In years 2011, 2012 and 2013, we've made a incontrovertible case for executing content marketing with strategy and delivering media-appropriate messages-you know, the "right person, right place, right time" thing. I'm down with that too.
This year, we'll raise the game again. We'll focus on dispatching with the recycled crap that's cluttering glass screens of every shape and size. We'll resolve to create content that's more useful, entertaining and inspiring than any competitor in our niche. We may even go as far as demanding the investments we make in content marketing deliver a return. All good.
But we simply won't get there by romanticizing its reign. Focus on who you do it for and why. There's the card that can't be trumped, Jack.