We have crossed paths with this question so many times in ten years, it feels like the content is something that seems to be a relatively new phenomenon. The importance of content has been recently realized since the advent of marketing concepts like search engine optimization, blogging, reviews, website optimization and keyword research.
The reality is that when businesses, digital marketing agencies, and marketers ask the question “is content really king?” My answer to them is:
Have you been living under a rock all your life?
If you look at your email inbox, your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, you will see that there is something posted from a company and right next to it, there is something from your mom.
This is how up close and personal content has become.
In order to understand the worth of content we need to step back from all the modern confusion and take a look at the journey content has made.
The evolution of content and content marketing
There has been just too much content since forever since the first man drew on the walls of caves, ever since the Egyptians made inscriptions on the pyramids, and since Gutenberg invented the printing press.
Content marketing seems like a really nice term and lots of consultants go around saying that they know what it is. But content marketing has been hot, impactful, and effective for over a century now.
Brands and branding are an artifact of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. That’s when we had big mass media and television dominated everything.
Rise of advertising
Advertising came on and through it, marketers created commonalities, in other words, the family next door saw the same ad that you saw. This is where people found out about new products and services in the marketplace, where people learned about new brands that might be great for us.
If we look at it this way, marketing, for a long time had been about the interruption.
Marketers had to interrupt our day by putting on a TV commercial when we were engaged in our favorite entertainment. Or they had to put an ad in between our favorite magazines or newspapers that caused us to stop.
What was going on is that marketers were constantly pushing. Pushing advertisements to get our attention. This was the era of classical marketing, and it relied hard on persuasion.
The effect of mass media
Classical marketers fell in love with the mass media because at that time it was probably the best way to market. You had television, newspapers, and magazines that could reach so many people.
Somebody else owned the audience that marketers wanted to tap into. So this way advertisers had to go through some other intermediary to put the message out there and the whole dynamic was founded on the principle of distribution.
Advertising was amazing at getting attention as there was a burst of disruption. All the ads and marketing became a part of TV entertainment or the newspapers and people got accustomed to it really fast.
But what did marketing actually achieve with all that attention?
Content and the internet
The problem with classical marketing and content was that people had few channels and sources of information. But with the advent of the internet, all of this change.
With the internet the advertiser and the audience can find each other, we can also say that because of the internet the publisher and the advertiser were competing in the same space. So, marketers for the first time didn’t need to go to a third party to sell what they offered.
Instead of advertising on someone else’s channel, marketers had the opportunity to create their own valuable, relevant, and compelling content. At their own channels to create loyalty, build relationships directly to what we now like to call, “subscribers”.
Content and content marketing:
Since the existence of the internet, over time marketers have observed a subtle but constant evolution of content, its value, its potential, and perception.
And boy, have we come so far!
Marketers had to change the way they think about getting access to the mind of the consumer they want to build a relationship with. And one of the best ways to do that today is through content marketing.
Content marketing actually preceded advertising, when you go back and in history and look at the first ads.
The first known advertisement was about content that was actually connecting with people. It was based around value and at some point during classical marketing (the 1950s), marketers went too far with it.
Down the line, marketers realized that all the stuff that they are putting up there, all the product information and the website information.
Nobody cares about it!
Nobody cares about our products and services
Nobody cares about our features and benefits
People care about themselves
People care about their own pains and the everyday issues they face.
So, as marketers started to get into this, from there onwards we entered into an era called the era of content marketing.
The value of content today
Today, there are unlimited channels, your customers can absolutely ignore you at will. They don’t have to pay any attention to you at all. Even because your customers have got 24/7 access to a smartphone and companies have unlimited access to publish, but it still does not sell.
It’s not a match unless marketers start to figure out:
How they we going to communicate to those pain points?
How can we cut through all of the clutter with all the noise there is online?
In other words marketers have now realized that content has always been valuable, content has always been king. But a king is nothing if he does not take the flock to a better place.
Content is nothing without a purpose just like a king is nothing without his.
The drive, processes and analysis that takes place towards finding the purpose is called content marketing or content strategy.
It is not just modern phenomenon it a whole philosophy, a science of understanding yourself, the value you have and the people who can benefit from the value you deliver. And the way that value is delivered is through the content that you produce.
How does content become king?
The brands that really get the concept are focused on bringing the part of information that people want to consume. They are focused on creating higher quality content to inspire people to buy something they didn’t know they needed.
Consumer centric approach
Customers are always faced with issues. For a digital marketer some considerations are really important:
What are my customers concerned about?
What issues do they have?
What information are they looking for?
How can I help them solve those problems?
It’s about being focused on being good to a specific audience. Content marketing is about devoting resources and talents toward driving a really small, very niche audience.
Understand deeply, the buyers that you are trying to reach. You can call them buyer’s personas if you like. Effective content marketing somehow integrates an organization into things that are valuable and important to your consumers and then delivers them.
The sweet spot
Once you have the needs and the issues of your audience three is a certain style or trends that are effective in getting the attention that you want. This is called the sweet spot, where you have found your niche and focus on the engagement you want from the audience.
Now there is a certain angle you want to take with your content strategy. This angle defines the unique way you establish contact with the audience.
Your angle is something unique to you, or in other words it is your competitive advantage. The thing that is different about you from your competitors. Basing your content around this will provide you your own space over the internet.
This step is about how you can shape your content so that it can seem attractive to your niche by the incorporation of trends and a certain voice your audience responds most to.
Now that you have completely realized your audience and have figured out the ways in which you can reach them in order to have the most attention towards the call to action.
It is essential to upscale your content production and achieve the consistency required to harvest your own subscribers, your own loyal audiences, slowly but surely people will start to relate to you differently.
When you give the ability to people to differentiate between you and your competition that is when you can say that your content was the most effective.
Content is always evolving and with it the perceptions related to it and the tools required for content to be successful. If we notice, successful content throughout history has been the one that speaks to the desired audience effectively.
No matter how much the world around us changes, no matter how much marketing tools and techniques change. It has always been about people, their wants and how you can deliver it to them. When done the right way, your content becomes a king for you.