In a 1996 essay, Bill Gates wrote that ‘content is king’. Some fifteen years later this phrase became to buzz of the digital marketing world. You couldn’t visit a marketing blog or sit through a PowerPoint presentation without reading those words. They became ubiquitous.
And then the king died.
Content has, until now, been seen as the tip of the iceberg, the finishing touch to all other marketing efforts. Although pitched as the supreme ruler, its consideration has all too often come second to design elements, to keyword rankings, to the noise of 50% off and great value. Its benefit has always vied with contradictory SEO advantages, and too many times, it has lost. But the internet is changing. The king, whom everyone said held ultimate power, is dead, and in his place comes the birth of a republic. The republic of content.
The importance of good quality, consistent, relevant, engaging content is only growing. There is no longer any space for it at the tip of the iceberg; it is now the 90% that sits under the water, keeping entire strategies afloat.
A state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.
Copywriters: the pillars of the content republic
The content republic means that any and every marketing strategy should start with content, with the words that describe products and services, that persuade and entertain and engage. And what that means, whether you like it or not, is that the employment of a professional writer – or better yet, a team of professional writers – is no longer a negotiable. Businesses cannot, and should not, leave content creation to its SEO team, or indeed to the junior who happens to have reached the dizzy heights of A-level English and achieved a respectable B-grade. Do you really expect to convert with B grade content?
In reality, it doesn’t matter if the person you employ has a degree in chemistry from Durham, as long as he or she can write. And by ‘write’, I don’t mean simply string an adequate sentence together – most of us can do that, and that’s why there is such a common misconception that content is something anyone can do. I mean that the words are thoughtful and provocative, the grammar and sentence structure competent, the style relevant for each marketing channel, the tone of voice suitable, all copy consistent and targeted correctly. Starting to look a bit more difficult isn’t it?
This in turn means that you can’t expect to hire a good, experienced writer for peanuts, nor can you simply pay someone you find on a freelancing website £8 per page and expect to get quality copy. Content is the same as any other discipline: you get what you pay for.
Time for a quote? Of course it is. It’s impossible to put it better than the legendary Red Adair when he said, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”
So, the biggest asset to your business in 2015 is, trust us, a writer. If that’s a no-go, there’s nothing to stop you getting your content written and managed by a professional copywriting company. It’s often cheaper than getting somebody in, and offers more flexibility for regular and ad hoc work.
Content as the foundation of your strategy
The birth of the content republic means that content should be at the foundation of your strategy, and that the needs and interests of your customers should be paramount. Good content, alongside effective analysis, ensures the consumer remains your focus, regardless of internal goals.
I have worked with marketing teams whose aims revolve solely around what the business is trying to achieve, and have had to be actively re-educated to think customer-centrically. Quality copy will always pitch a product or a service to appeal to the customer’s requirements or desires. It answers the question, “And so what?” before it is even asked. Good content considers why the offering will be attractive to the target audience, relates how it fulfils their needs, and injects personality into a potentially faceless brand.
This is so important in order to move forward, to expand and increase conversions and brand awareness. You might be thinking that no-one will notice the odd grammatical error or poorly written blog post, but they do, and bit by bit those weak pieces of content erode consumer trust in your brand.
Let’s touch on personalisation for a second too. This is the big word for 2015 – everyone is trying to get as much information as possible so that they can relay relevant messages. The data gathering is obviously essential, but if the copy isn’t properly targeted and executed, no amount of data will ever increase your sales. Again, it’s about trust, authority and familiarity.
Join the republic
Content underpins everything about a business’ marketing – what is said on the website, how blog and social posts are written, how the PR team represents you, the way emails are phrased depending which consumer segment they target, even how a PPC ad entices a potential buyer in. It all has to tie in, it all has to be consistent and positive and on brand. In short, it is an – indeed the – essential weapon in your arsenal.
Don’t get left behind this year. Find great writers, employ them, and watch your business grow.