Sales meets marketing in content

Content marketing is all the rage these days.

Agencies and PR firms alike, all touting the power of content as if it were the last great hope of mankind.

Content is the big fix to obliterate all your digital marketing woes (or at least that’s what we’re being led to believe). SEO issues—content. Social media challenges—content. Website conversion stressing you out? We’ll there’s your problem! You’re not creating enough content.

Sure content is king, but content for the sake of content, well, how does that serve the kingdom?

Case in point, an ingenious company that has invented a device to help people young and old learn to play guitar chords. The product is ChordBuddy and it is quite brilliant, so much so that it garnered a six-digit investment from Shark, Robert Herjavec on the hit ABC show, Shark Tank. This investment came only after four of the five sharks fought to invest.

As brilliant as the product is, if ChordBuddy can’t attract those looking for an easy way to play guitar, sharks or no sharks, they’ll end up swimming with the fishes.

Since appearing on Shark Tank, ChordBuddy has been working with a few agencies trying to get digital marketing right.  No surprise the advice they were given was, “you need to create content.” The content strategy being proposed focused on creating generic guitar topics—caring for a guitar, how to replace a guitar string and so on. Some topics were more musician specific—how to hone your musical ear, how to be a songwriter, etc. Over 60 pages of content was created around general guitar and musical topics.

Lots of content, most about guitars, the product is related to guitars—what’s the problem?

…Here’s the problem.

Let’s for now, gloss over the fact that none of the content tied the topic to the need for the product at all.

For the topic: “Caring for your acoustic guitar,” Google returns an onslaught of 1.8 million website results, 2.4 million videos and hundreds of thousands of products that claim to forevermore solve the problem. It does not seem as if the Internet will see one more piece of guitar care content as a glorious triumph for the subject. Those in need are not screaming in contempt while they struggle to find answers to their guitar care woes.

Companies that have earned page one position in the guitar care sector are doing a fine job. Product leaders such as Martin and Gibson, mixed in with authorities like WikiHow, Guitar Magazine and Rolling Stone. Companies you would expect to provide trusted content on such a topic…are. Is the plan to displace these titans with a mere 300 words of generic content? Not much of a plan if you ask me.

There are a plethora of topics that relate more closely to the ChordBuddy value proposition and can educate without beating someone over the head with sales rhetoric.

Topics such as: “Easiest musical instrument to learn,” will not only target the right person, but positioning in search is obtainable, and you could argue that ChordBuddy makes an instrument previously difficult to learn, much easier. For someone like me, a musical neophyte that would struggle to play the tambourine, sounds like it would be a great read.

Just keep adding content—more content—more, more, more!  I’m sorry, this strategy (I use that term lightly) that so many are affirming as a gateway to the promise land, lacks the specificity required to succeed.

Some of those pedaling the virtues of content creation have gone astray. There simply must be more thought put into not just creating content, but content that is needed, has a chance of ranking well in search and connects with the right customer. These are essential ingredients to make good content into great content.

As marketers, if we’re going to move the revenue needle, we can no longer do anything unless it means something. Content cannot and should not exist if only for contents sake.