June 27, 2012: In the game of chess, the Queen is the most valuable player, able to move any number of squares vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. In the word of marketing, content is said to be King; it educates people so that they know, like, and trust you well enough to do business with you. But great content doesn’t distribute itself. According to Copyblogger’s Senior Editor Sonia Simone, “Content needs vehicles for people to pass it along, discuss its merits, argue over its controversies, blog it, mash it, tweet it, and even scrape it.”
And so this begs the question: If Content Is King, Then What’s Queen?
“Content is King, but marketing is Queen and the Queen runs the household.” We’re all familiar with Gary Vaynerchuk’s famous line from the 2008 Blog World Expo. But, these days, digital marketing has taken on so many dimensions—blogging, social media, infographics, etc.—that, by the time you’ve mastered any one of them, the rug has been pulled out from under you. Given the infinite number of marketing channels available, how do companies find the right “Queen” to suit the needs of B2B customers?
Here are 3 different takes on 3 different approaches:
- Show, Don’t Tell: This is something we writers hear all the time in creative writing workshops. “Showing” means using sensory language, dialogue, and descriptions to engage your readers as opposed to simply “telling” them how to think or feel. Search Engine Land’s Jordan Kasteler claims the same is true for making digital content visually appealing. “Your content presentation is the clinching factor that holds an audience’s attention long enough for you to grab them with your actual content,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how mind-blowingly original or well-crafted your content is: If your audience doesn’t stick around to consume it, why bother creating it?” With content becoming more visual every day—content marketing infographics can, for example, reinforce how content is at the heart of all marketing initiatives—marketers must think beyond just the content itself. After all, Kasteler argues, “Why tell a consumer about your brand when you can show them?”
- Build a Reputation: The end goal of any content marketing initiative is to reach your audience. You want to become an established thought leader within your industry and build lasting relationships with your audience members. But to do this takes time, argues Social Media Today’s Susanna Gebauer. “Creating content is only the first step in building a reputation with content marketing,” she says. “The next step is…to know the channels you use to spread your stellar content, and your audience within them, to make the most of your energy.” Not every platform will achieve the same results, however. “You have to take into account which form of content you are trying to spread in various channels (e.g., a high quality picture might be best spread throughout Pinterest, while a video surrounding the same topic would be most effective on Facebook).” So, when trying to decide where to place the content you’ve created, be sure to do your homework first.
- Think Ahead: “Just because ‘Content Is King’ doesn’t mean your content is anything more than that of a Court Jester,” writes Copyblogger’s Frank Angelone. When creating content, don’t just consider the “hot” topics of today; what’s key is to think ahead to the future. What kinds of issues will still be relevant a year from now, or even 10 years from now? How can you make a lasting impression on your readers, connecting with them in a way that withstands the test of time? Angelone refers to this concept as infusing your writing with nostalgia. “You want,” he writes, “people to read your articles down the line and say, ‘This is great. I wish people still created things like this.’” A Court Jester only entertains the King in the moment, but, if you “write for what will still be relevant when all the hype becomes old news, you might be remembered when you’re gone.”
In truth, there is no “one size fits all approach” to content marketing. Savvy B2B marketers will find a way to incorporate aspects of all 3 of the above approaches into their content marketing strategies. Indeed, there may be many “Queens” to content marketing’s one “King,” but, as Sonia Simone states, our desire to create is unchanging: “Wonderful words and beautiful images capture our attention, no matter who we are or what technology we might have at our disposal.”
If Content is King, then what is your marketing Queen? Which approaches have been the most useful to your company? Which have not?