Content is king…really?

It’s the new buzz word. Content is king.

But even as we say it – there are many, many marketers out there who often forget about this. How often do we see sales tools that look good, feel good but have no content and ultimately no value to the customer?

I like many others fell in love with Coca-Cola’s Content 2020. If you haven’t seen it and if you’re even remotely involved with content creation and marketing – this is a must.

As a writer I’m glad to see that content is on the forefront in business – but actions speak louder than words and right now I feel content is not speaking loud enough.

In the book business the fiction market to be precise, content is usually king; even if it’s a big time brand writer. These days it doesn’t take long to get feedback from readers. It’s like performing in front of a live audience. You have a book out, you go on Goodreads; viola, and you know what they say about it. And needless to say the royalty checks don’t look as good when the book isn’t good.

Lately, all you hear is Fifty Shades this and Fifty Shades that – I feel we went straight from vampires and werewolves into S&M. (A kinky sexual revolution is afoot – I think.) I have read all three books – all in a flight from New York to Berlin with a screaming kid sitting right behind me kicking at my seat while he hollered for his helpless mama who sat next to him (four-year old lungs are much, much stronger than baby lungs and this was excruciating painful).

My sister called me recently and said, “Have you read it? If she says holy fuck one more time I’m going to lose my mind.”

I told her that if she wanted to read high literature, Salman Rushdie has a book out.

But she gets it, this is escapist literature, its candy floss and we all want candy floss.

And, yes, there’s difference between good candy floss and bad candy floss. Fifty Shades was entertaining. Could it have used a heavy editorial hand? Absolutely. But I thought it was an honest book, not pretending to be anything more than what it was. I thought it was fun. And I thought Hilary Mantle’s Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies was also entertaining and fun and made a lasting impression, unlike Fifty Shades. Some books are simply better than others for some people (it’s all so subjective) – but that doesn’t mean that a book that doesn’t win the Man Booker Prize is lacking in content. It’s just different.

Of course, there is other erotica, probably better written erotica that hasn’t sold 40 million copies or even one million for that matter – but then again no one said you also didn’t have to also be lucky in the content business.

Ultimately, I do believe that CONTENT IS KING. I learnt this from the fiction book business. There are times when you just have to accept that what you have written is not good enough. I have a lovely book that isn’t able to get through to an editor and I have to finally and eventually admit that I love it and think it’s fabulous but maybe it’s just not good enough. It happens. You just have to roll up your sleeves, bite the humiliation in the ass and get going on the next book.

But what I know about content and how important it is does not always translate well to B2B marketing, which is my day job. In B2B marketing we’re all so bogged down by Excel sheets and sales figures and getting on the sexy digital band wagon that we forget about content. We talk about cool apps and sales tools and forget that what needs to be on these apps and sales tools needs to be just as sexy.

Take for example Robert James Waller. His Bridges of Madison County was a huge hit. The movie did even better. But somehow his writing career didn’t quite make it. He sort of disappeared and had trouble getting his sequel to BridgesA Thousand Country Roads published with any of the big houses. I read some of his other books and I felt that his content was not king.

The customer, the end user understands high quality. We should never doubt that.

I once got into a discussion with a marketing director whose first language was not English. I told him that he couldn’t tinker with a PowerPoint presentation the night before and take it to the customer without having someone make sure everything was in proper English. He said “No one cares if I spell a word wrong here or there. The customer doesn’t care; they probably won’t even notice.”

The thing is if a marketing director of a global company can’t run spell check on his presentation; I have to wonder how much effort the company puts in making sure they put out a high quality product in the market. Your content is a reflection of who you are – if you’re sloppy in what you put in front of your customer it’s not going to work and yes, they do notice.

Same with books – as soon as a reader spots a spelling mistake or a grammatical discrepancy, it sticks with them.

These are basics. Telling someone to run spell check before a meeting is like saying please remember to put your pants on before you leave the house. But in B2B the rules are lax. You can go without your pants…well, without spell checking at least. Of course, this is a gross generalization but there are still a large number of B2B companies that feel they don’t have to worry about content because they don’t have to titillate the audience because their customers are not buying nail paint or sexy lingerie.

But at the end of the day all B2B marketing is B2C marketing because all business people are human and also shop for nail paint and/or sexy lingerie.

So…if you seriously believe that CONTENT IS KING and you are a B2B marketer, some watch outs:

APPS ARE COOL: but first focus on the content, content generation, content governance – otherwise the app will die.

SALES TOOLS: Find out who’s making the PowerPoint presentations that your sales people are taking to customers. If they’re making it themselves put some governance in place to make sure that customers don’t see some crazy stuff.

Content is king! Absolutely. But let’s treat it like one by making sure that we take care of our content whether we’re writing books or selling B2B solutions.

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One Comment

  1. Aparna Sripathi Panditaradhyula says:

    First, when and how will people start pronouncing it as Content ( Kontent), and NOT as Content ( as in contentment)? please enlighten people through your writings.

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