You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Content is King.” It’s an old mantra that seems to crop up around any creative or artistic industry, including photography, film and television. The term was perhaps most famously thrown out there by Bill Gates in reference to the internet way back in 1996. So, what does it mean? Is it true? Why do so many people keep saying it?
“Content is King” is a catchy, alliterative way of saying what we all know instinctively to be true, which is that if the material you are generating or publishing or distributing is garbage, then the very best plans, strategies, tricks, tips and intentions won’t matter in the slightest. Your message will get lost. Your efforts will be wasted. Nobody will care. I’ve heard another catchy (if cruder) way of saying this as well. “If you put crap in, you’re going to get crap out.”
In marketing, we like to think we’re in control. We’re playing a game of influence. Pull a string over here, see what moves over there. Toss a stone in the pond and watch the water ripple. But the truth is, the best marketing is only going to be effective if the content is quality. Even if you nail your ad placement, and your SEO is locked in, and your social media presence is on point, and you start getting people to click through to your site like crazy… it still won’t matter if you don’t have something good to show them when they get there. After all, you don’t just want people to show up, you want them to stay. You want them to come back. You want them to tell their friends.
Ever go see a movie you’re super excited about, then leave the theater disappointed, and thinking maybe the trailer was better than the actual movie? Same thing. And chances are, that movie is going to bomb. On the flip side, you’ve probably gone to see a movie at some point without ever seeing a trailer, a commercial, or even a poster. But twenty people told you it was great. That one will probably be up for “best picture” at the Oscars.
That’s not to say content is ALL that matters. A king still needs a queen. And a Jack and an Ace (or Knight and a Bishop - pick your metaphor). After all, a lot of people have great content, and a a lot of great content never gets seen by anybody. The smart money is always going to be on great content AND a great marketing strategy. One can only go so far without the other.