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Cup of Joe: Content Marketing Is B#$*!t!




So you hire an SEO, social media guru, business coach, and who ever else is willing to take your money, and they all tell you the same thing: You need better content. At this point there is a 50% chance that they are right. So let’s take a look at what you should do if they are wrong, and what you should do if they are right.

If they are wrong.

So your consultants have told you that you need better content. But, you know for a fact that you produce amazing products and services, and all the content in the world isn’t going to change that. Here’s what you do: Fire them. Don’t waste anytime, pick up the phone right now and fire them. Find a new marketing or PR person that understands your business and can see the real value in your products and services. Hire people that appreciate your work because those are the ones that understand that outstanding product sell themselves, not content. All they need to do is let others know that as well.

If they are right.

People keep saying you need better content. Deep down you have been suspecting this the whole time. Because deep down you know that your content sucks, and even worse, you know that your products suck too. Here’s what you do: Call up your consultants, and fire them. Seriously, if they tell you, you need new content, and you agree, fire them. Then, fire yourself and get a real job. Because if you need better content that means that your products and services can’t sell themselves. If that’s the case, then maybe you have bigger problems than marketing or SEO.

I can already hear you getting warmed up in the comments so let me state a few things: Content marketing does build links. Content marketing does drive targeted traffic. Content marketing does and can sell crappy products. Content marketing does and can sell outstanding products.

However, content marketing didn’t build the Kitchen-Aid mixer my grandfather bought in the 1940s that my grandmother still uses today. Content marketing is not the reason that some are obsessed with Apple’s products. In the end content marketing is BS because no amount of content in the world, can replace the satisfaction of a quality product or service. Everything else is just a distraction from that process.

[photo credit - this picture is completely unrelated to this post, but I have a feeling that this post will anger some. If so, here's a puppy.]

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    I lucked out.

    Not only do I agree with your post, but I get to enjoy a dachshund puppy too! :-)

  • http://paulserry.co.uk Paul Serry

    Hi,
    I think your choice out of all the puppies was excellent. Also, your post interesting and provocative. My experience has allowed me to see quite a lot of mediocre products and services with quality website sites and other advertising driving things forward. The business or services often ether get better or disappear off the planet.
    My website site is always a “work in progress” yet I have work and tick along okay. I hope the point you make explained why, or is it luck? Paul Serry

  • http://www.dreamgrow.com Priit Kallas

    Every time someone says “outstanding product sell themselves” I want to scream. There will always be more people who are interested but not users, and they discuss the products with each other and actual users. This may shock you but that is content that makes “product sell themselves”. “All they need to do is let others know that as well.” did you actually read what you wrote? How the hell are you going to “let others know that as well” if not with content. Hire mimes? Oh, wait… that’s content, too.

  • http://www.bamsmallbizconsulting.com Nikolas Allen

    I DISAGREE, and here’s why: The two examples you used are all about Out-Bound Marketing. Sure, Kitchen-Aid made a great product 65 years ago, and they probably spent lots of money on newspaper and radio ads targeted at housewives. Apple spends millions of dollars a year on push advertising to sell their products (in San Francisco, you can’t drive two blocks without seeing a giant Apple billboard).

    Does that mean these products are “selling themselves” as you suggest? Absolutely not! Humongous budgets spent on old-school advertising methods are selling them.

    Most of today’s entrepreneurs and small business owners do not have the resources of Apple (or even Kitchen-Aid), nor does the public want to be sold to via the same old channels of yesteryear. Modern-day audiences want to connect, learn, research, build relationships, and have a choice of what media they use to get their valuable information.

    Should you start by creating an amazing product or service? Absolutely. But, once you’ve done that, you STILL need to be found.

    When done properly, Content Marketing is a form of Inbound Marketing that provides insight, value, education, information, and is a great way to build relationships with people who will benefit from your offering far more than they will from newspaper ads and billboards.

    • http://www.srinternetservices.com Steve

      I agree with you very much Nick. I have several clients and yet only one of them actually produces what I call good content for her market and her consumers. Guess what, she can’t keep enough product and her only channel is a website that is at the top of page one for hundreds of differentt search phrases. Her article content just happens to have the search phrases in the article and not by design. The woman is a genius at writing copy without even trying.

  • Mike

    Content if produced properly is marketing. Digital Marketing. What you’re saying is that if your products and services are good, you don’t need marketing. You should fire yourself for thinking such a thing.

    • http://webfordentists.com/ Jason

      I don’t think I could say it any better. Basically saying the entire advertising industry is unnecessary because people should just be able to look at a product and not need cohersing is just plain wrong. I do like the puppy picture though.

  • http://www.bamsmallbizconsulting.com Nikolas Allen

    Here is why I DISAGREE with your argument as stated: The two examples you used are all about Out-Bound Marketing. Sure, Kitchen-Aid made a great product 65 years ago, and they probably spent lots of money on newspaper and radio ads targeted at housewives.

    Apple spends millions of dollars a year on push advertising to sell their products (in San Francisco, you can’t drive two blocks without seeing a giant Apple billboard). Yes, they’ve got great word-of-mouth now, but it cost them a lot to get there.

    These products are not “selling themselves” as you suggest? Rather, humongous budgets spent on old-school advertising methods are selling them.

    Most of today’s entrepreneurs and small business owners do not have the resources of Apple (or even Kitchen-Aid), nor does the public want to be sold to via the same old channels of yesteryear. Modern-day audiences want to connect, learn, research, build relationships, and have a choice of what media they use to get their valuable information.

    Should you start by creating an amazing product or service? Absolutely. But, once you’ve done that, you STILL need to be found.

    When done properly, Content Marketing is a form of Inbound Marketing that provides insight, value, education, information, and is a great way to build relationships with people who will benefit from your offering far more than they will from newspaper ads and billboards.

  • http://egoistphilosophyblog.com/ Keenan Steel

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, Joe, but you seem to have “content marketing” confused with “website content.” I was also shocked that you either misunderstand or misrepresent the role of a marketer.

    Content marketing is using content (video, blogs, articles, infographics, etc.) to market. Apple’s 36 million views on YouTube, and the fact that your blog post is being graced by our oh-so-critical eyes, are tributes to content marketing. Content marketers may sometimes create content, but they also specialize in getting publicity for said content. It’s hard to take you seriously on the point that “content marketing is bullshit” on a marketing blog that gained viewers through content marketing.

    On to the role of the marketer: a good product is VITAL. No one is going to argue that with you. As marketers, however, it’s generally your job to sell products – not create them. Have a good suggestion for a better product? Great, make it – and then stop making excuses and do your job.

    If you think that winning in today’s world is all about building the best product and then waiting for people to knock down your door, I hope you work for my competitors. Rather, “build a better product” is often an excuse for a marketer who doesn’t know how to market effectively.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brick-Marketing-SEO-and-SEM-Firm/14204584980 Nick Stamoulis

      Keenan,

      I don’t think I could have said it better myself. The greatest content in the world isn’t going to save a bad product, but great content marketing (which is marketing!) can help get a great product even more attention from the target audience. Like you said, you can’t wait for people to show up and buy your product.

      Nick

  • http://www.findnewcustomers.com Jeff Ogden

    Very interesting post. While I believe in the power of content marketing, the fact is also true that people want to be inspired (think apple, bmw, etc.) Companies need to move away from quick fixes and to rethink their entire reason for being.

    Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor
    President, Find New Customers
    http://www.findnewcustomers.com

  • http://www.forhim.com John U

    Thanks for sharing this article with us, really interesting thoughts.

  • http://outspokenmedia.com/about/lisa-barone/ Lisa Barone

    +1 for Keenan’s comment.

    Content marketing is how people find out about that great product of yours. This sounds like every small business owner who has opened up an awesome shop…only to close 3 months later when no one visited because they didn’t know they existed.

  • http://www.search-mojo.com Tad Miller

    Back in my days in the legal profession we used to call this idea “painting the turd gold”. A good writer can make even the stinkiest turd at least “look” legitimate.

    The reality is that most stuff doesn’t sell itself and their are a lot of products and services that people don’t even know they need yet.

    The true test of if your content is working is in your analytics. Does 90% of your traffic abandon in the first 8 seconds of visiting your site? Or do people spend the amount of time it should take to read the content or at least move deeper into the site? Pretty simple to evaluate. Much harder to execute.

  • http://www.twitter.com/shiraabel Shira Abel

    Ahhhh, linkbait. How much fun is that?

    Well, it worked – because I clicked and read the post (actually – you should thank Outspoken, because that’s where I came from).

    Content has many purposes:
    1. Give people a reason to come back to your site and increase mindshare
    2. Educate the customer
    3. Giving good, helpful information that the customer values builds reciprocity and increases customer lifetime value (yes, this helps even wonderful products)

    Because I today have to choose between the KitchenAid mixer and the Kenwood one – and when I read the reviews they are basically the same. Actually, maybe the Kenwood is slightly higher. But the Kitchenaid looks so much cooler. But it’s slightly higher priced. And then there’s Moulenix… Etc… most of the time there are a few players and customers need to make a decision. The content you give helps them choose you over others. It’s in addition to the wonderful product.

  • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com Joe Pulizzi

    Hi Joe…I see your point. I think it should be a given that a great storytelling organization first needs to have a product or service that is first rate. That said, if you have a great product or service, how do you let people know you’re worth paying attention to?

    Two examples:
    How did JELL-O become one of the most trusted brands in the world? In the early 1900’s, no one paid attention to them. JELL-O was weird and new. Not until they went around, door-to-door, giving out free recipe books did they break out. 2 years after starting the recipe book strategy, they reached $1 million dollars.
    How did John Deere create such loyalty with farmers around the world? They produced the leading magazine dedicated to solving problems for farmers, called the Furrow, in 1895. We see what’s happened to John Deere.

    Content marketing didn’t create JELL-O or build a John Deere tractor, but without it, we wouldn’t know about either.

    Thanks for the take.