Content rich blogs, newsletters with unique content, value-added content for your subscribers or clients … the C word is everywhere these days.
But if content is King, where is the kingdom? Content only has value if it’s targeted at the right audience. An example – Game of Thrones would not make sense if all you knew about a throne was that it was a big chair in a big hall. Why go to all that trouble, just for a place to sit down? But once you know that a throne is a symbol of rulership, the whole murderous saga makes sense.
Similarly, if my target audience is metropolitan business people in their mid-thirties and forties, it doesn’t matter how good my tips on maintaining your campervan are – they won’t hit the target. Great content – wrong kingdom.
That’s not the only mistake businesses make when considering content. There’s also the matter of vocabulary: SEO, keywords, long-tail keywords … it seems if we can just get the technical details right, we’re bound to end up at the top of Google. Right?
Right. And yet, very, very wrong. Google ranking is a snapshot. Running a business is more like live theatre.
Yes, theatre. While anybody with enough money can get to top of a list for a day, or a month, or maybe even a year, that does not, in itself, guarantee market dominance. And even if it did, market dominance is not what most businesses are seeking. Rather, they want a high degree of prosperity and a reasonable measure of security. Game of Thrones again – getting your backside into the hot-seat isn’t the goal, but keeping it there is.
So the #1 Google slot might, just might, be filled by a company that 40% of potential clients think is out of their league. Would you settle for 40% of the enquirers who Google your industry? Because the other firms who make up that first Google page probably get to mop up a lot of great business opportunities without having to pay for the privilege of being #1.
Why is running a business like a live show?
Because content isn’t controllable. What we put out is under our control but the content that is added to our content: comments, reviews, shares and likes, is entirely out of our supervision. Google some top restaurants or hotels, resorts or shows – you’ll see that a good percentage of the reviews start with, ‘This used to be a great …’ and go on to explain why that business has gone downhill, in the commentator’s opinion. The audience is out there, and sometimes they are throwing tomatoes at the stage.
And Google – the throne everybody’s fighting for – doesn’t discriminate. Good and bad, positive and negative, Google looks at the number of bits of information there are about a company, not about the nature or quality of those bits.
But … real life readers discriminate very well. Not only that, they base their decision-making on a complex and individual set of considerations. Each reader is therefore a Google algorithm all by themselves and you have no way of guessing what specific factors will influence an individual in your favour.
So content is largely unpredictable, definitely uncontrollable, needs to be relevant to your target audience and can easily be lost sight of in hollow technical exercises.
What’s the answer?
Be yourself. In the long term a business that has a good product or service, treats customers well and communicates honestly will survive and probably thrive. It may never get to sit on the throne of the Kingdom but it may live a rich, happy and interesting life at court without ever having to worry about hanging onto its seat – or suffering death by molten gold like Viserys Targaryen!