REAL “Content Marketing”

Marketing & Writing

In business, there is no buzzier buzzphrase than “content marketing.” The ink spilled on this concept would fill the oceans.

The problem is, most of it is empty. It’s not real content. What is “content” anyway?

When most think of content on the Internet, I believe they think about:

Teaching people how to do something
Telling people to believe something
Answering people’s questions

None of those things are inherently bad. But somehow, when they become in service of content marketing, there is an icky-used-car-salesmen feel that gets attached. I feel like I need a shower.

These things were welcome in the good old days of the Internet. Now, though? It’s so saturated and soiled that for you to simply create your own entry muddies the waters. It doesn’t provide clarity.

The Category Pirates call this “content-free marketing.”

It’s content in the sense that there is something contained within the piece of marketing to consume, but content-free in that sense that what you’re consuming is largely empty and wasteful.

One of Jeff Bezos’ core operating principles is to focus on things that won’t change. Is there a version of content that will never change? There is! And the good news is, it’s the most interesting stuff.

I believe we should think of content more like this:

Original thinking and ideas
Behind the scenes of what we’re actually doing — not hypotheticals
Our point of view

Nothing I’ve said here, ironically, is new—but it is a point of view, and one that, for some reason, is not very popular.

When I follow people online, it’s the originals I follow. I don’t follow copycats (when I can help it). I’m not saying people don’t derive inspiration from others—of course they do—I’m simply saying that there is a clear difference between the parrots and the original thinkers. They can usually be spotted a mile away. And there are far fewer originals.

As a guy with a list of potential content ideas that I “brainstormed,” here’s a perspective shift that might rock my world and yours: Everything is content.

That message I sent my assistant a few minutes ago? Content. That email I got from a client I’m not sure how to respond to yet? Content. The marketing decision I made last week? Content.

Not, “10 steps to…” But, “Hey, here’s what happened and what I learned…”

I’ll bet you “content marketing” becomes 10x easier through that lens. Here’s what I love about this:

One of my favorite business writers, Jason Fried, is known for his laid-back approach to marketing:

Do your best work
Share as much as you can
Let the chips fall where they may

That’s an entirely different ballgame than most marketers are playing. Of course, Jason has the receipts. He’s not flashy so you wouldn’t know it, but 37signals is far more successful than most of their competitors (especially if you look in terms of profitability).

It’s really no-nonsense. If you don’t do your best work every day, why show up? Sharing as much as you can just makes sense. Chefs do it! And it gets them more business… why not you?

And letting the chips fall sounds scary, but it’s just the reality of business. You control far less than you care to admit.

My take? Too many of us are trying to control all the small variables in step 3 instead of controlling the two MAJOR variables we CAN control: steps 1 and 2!

If you truly do your best work every day and share as much as you can as often as it makes sense, your business will thrive. It will take time to build an audience, sure. But people will care way more about the work you’re doing.

They will be bought in because you’re giving them real content. Finally.

Jul 9, 2024

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Hey, I'm Steve — a Christian, entrepreneur, thinker, and creator. Thanks for stopping by!

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