In January 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay published on the Microsoft website titled “Content is king”. While Gates was writing about how the creation of meaningful content would allow the internet to flourish, the phrase resonated in the minds of many in marketing. In this article, Mobas’ Commercial Director Adam Tuckwell explains why this catchy phrase can be a dangerous one in the wrong hands.
Anyone who has spent five minutes working in marketing, who’s sat on webinars or attended conferences (remember them?!) will have heard the well-repeated phrase ‘Content is king’. It’s great, isn’t it? It’s catchy, it’s easy to remember and, critically, it seems to hold the secret to marketing success. Want to sell more products? Write more. Want to raise awareness? Blog more. Want to educate your audience? Video or podcast more. More, more, more.
In 1996, when Gates was writing, the tactics in a marketer’s armoury were a fraction of what they are today. If creating content is the secret to success, then in 2021 we are spoilt for choice and the barriers to entry are close to zero.
Why is it dangerous? Because a belief that content is the answer to our problems compels us to prioritise quantity over quality. It encourages us to think broad instead of deep and, perhaps most critically of all, it makes us focus on the delivery of content rather than what our audience or customer wants and needs to help them stay informed.
Suppose we fail to focus on the pressure points that customers face, the issues our products or services address and, fundamentally, how our target audiences want to be addressed. In that case, we spiral into a never-ending cycle of creating content for the sake of making it. We tweet, we blog, we write and write and write in the hope that if we build enough, we will achieve our goals.
Content is important. In the right hands, it can be hugely influential, but don’t be fooled into giving content a misplaced crown. Content marketing in and of itself isn’t a strategy. Take time to really understand what your audience wants and needs and build a programme that delivers on their requirements. Content is certainly part of the ‘kingdom’ if you really want to use a phrase, but it can be dangerous, damaging and a worthless endeavour in the wrong hands. Content can make for a rotten king, as followers often discover to their detriment when it’s too late.