Did you hear what happens next in Game of Thrones? A new guy comes to town, also claiming to be king. He strides into the Red Keep and demands the Iron Throne.
‘What’s your birth right?’ The Lannisters ask.
‘Ain’t got one, but feast your eyes on this glorious crown!’ The man shouts. And sure enough, he’s got one big shiny gold crown, heavy with rare jewels.
‘Do you have an army?’ Varys asks.
‘Don’t need one, when I have this!’ The man points two thumbs at his amazing gold armour, polished to a blinding sheen.
‘Have you got dragons, perchance?’
‘Nope. But check out this royal bling!’ He waggles his ringed fingers, fat with diamonds, rubies and emeralds.
‘I see,’ says queen Cersei. She stands up and…
That reminds me of a man who worked his way to the top of a giant corporation in London. He was a master of appearances and smooth sound bytes. He could recite the company line forwards and backwards in his sleep.
Conflict slid off him like water from a duck’s back. Whenever failure happened in the company he was nowhere to be seen. But whenever someone had a great success, somehow Mr Smooth was there in the limelight, taking credit with perfect hair, smile, and graceful words.
Everyone liked him and loathed him, like you love a chocolate cake for tasting so good, and loathe it for the sugary crap it really is.
One day, the company heads decided to test the ability of this slippery fellow, with a tough challenge he would have to handle alone. They called him into the office and…
You get the idea of where I’m going with these stories, right?
Content is Sterile without Substance
“Content is King! Content is King! Content is King!” is chanted from the streets today, like a magical mantra for social media.
I beg to differ.
Content is NOT King. It’s more like… bling.
It’s the shiny armour – or slick suit – that first grabs your prospect’s attention, attracts them to you and makes you look and sound the part.
But underneath that sparkly exterior there must be real substance.
Because VALUE is King.
Your core offering. The strength of your brand. Your USP is King.
The purpose of content is to bring people to you, so that you can offer them something amazing. They don’t buy from you because you have nicely-written articles and pretty-looking infographics.
Your content pulls them in, towards rock solid value and a brand they trust and can relate to. Without that, your content is kind of pointless. A waste of time.
You can wrap a turd in pretty paper. But it’s still a turd.
Without real value at the end of your content funnel, it’s all just empty words and fancy frills. And if your content strategy isn’t working for you, perhaps it’s time to dig a little deeper, strip back to the essentials and work on your brand strategy first.
Answer These 10 Questions Before Even Considering Content Marketing
- Do you really offer value?
- Do you really have a USP?
- Why should anyone choose you over your next best competitor? (Hint: Do a thorough competitor analysis, following these tips)
- What are your four/five core brand values and do these underpin all of your marketing decisions?
- How do these brand values translate into copy, design and staff behaviour?
- Is this currently clear enough? I.e. would a prospect be able to guess your brand values from any quick interaction with your brand at any touchpoint?
- What are your brand personality traits and do they suit your target audience?
- Have you defined a distinct, relevant tone of voice, with guidelines to follow? And is this consistent across all your online and offline marketing collateral? (Hint: define your tone of voice following these 5 steps).
- Do you have a strong enough brand/mission statement – or one at all?
- Is your brand 1) meaningful, 2) unique, 3) experiential, 4) relevant, 5) consistent, 6) authentic and 7) durable? (The must-have ingredients of a powerful brand)
Because my friend, content is bling, not king.
You heard it here first.
Where was I? Oh yes…
So they called Mr Smooth into the office, and sat him down with a simple task to test his business skills. He wasn’t allowed to leave the room, or ask anyone else for help.
Of course he laughed, and said it would be fine, but he was just busy in that moment. He tried to charm them. He cajoled them. He begged them. But they held firm, and in the end he broke down, and was shown to have no useful business acumen at all.
He wasn’t giving any value to the company, beyond his empty words and skill of piggy-backing on others.
“Off with his head!” Shouted queen Cersei.
And the Bling King, with no birth right, no army, and no dragons, was dragged away. His shiny crown, armour and gold were taken from him and he was thrown into the dungeons.
The next day he was taken out to the square to have his head chopped off. But just at the last moment he distracted the guards, knocked them down, and escaped on a stolen horse.
He rode from Westeros, vowing to return one day with a real army. Some true strength to back up all his shiny bling.
Make sure you do the same. Don’t jump on the content marketing bandwagon until you’ve worked on your core offering and developed a proper brand strategy.