Is this your content? I sure hope not.

Don't sling this to your prospects.

On Wednesday, I met with Amanda Maksymiw of OpenView Venture Partners for coffee and conversation. Naturally, the talk turned to content marketing and content strategy. Amanda and her team at OpenView are among the very few people I’ve met that do this stuff really well: their work has substance; they’re not afraid to be provocative; and damn, they manage to get it out there all over the place.

But when the conversation turned to our upcoming roles at the Content Marketing World conference in September, I said my big content interest these days is in execution. Frankly, content strategy is (or should be) fairly simple: create relevant work and promote the snot out of it. The real difference between success and failure isn’t in content as idea, but content as action: in what we’re doing and how we do it.

So for the next few weeks, I’m putting together a blog series on content execution. Consider this the first one. And be assured that this is the only one I’ve planned that builds on a negative note, something you should not do.

And that’s sling hash.

What do I mean? In every prison movie, there’s a scene in which the hero (or anti-hero) lines up at the cafeteria for his daily grub. Invariably, on the other side of the steam table a guy with tattoos and a hairnet scoops up a lump of indistinguishable stuff and plops it on our hero’s plate. Our hero frowns, then carries the plop to a table where he sits with a bunch of other guys who all have the same plop. They poke at it with disgust.

Take a close look at that plop. What is it? Hash? Stew? Mashed potatoes? It’s colorless, textureless and flavorless.

The point is, the plop’s absolutely generic. That’s what prisoners get – generic food.

But our prospects and customers deserve better. Please don’t ever treat content as “content,” as some generic stuff you pump out into the marketplace without regard to its substance.

Don’t ever come to a point in which, at some part of a web redesign for instance, someone mentions a deadline for “content” as an afterthought, as if content were something hosed onto to the design like a spray tan or that seed and fertilizer mix that the lawn care people truck in.

Don’t allow content to become a secondary menu item to a social media strategy, as if substance were subordinate to shouting – to getting something, anything, heard.

Don’t create content for the mere sake of creating content without serious regard for what you’re creating – which means, by extension, regard for your audience.

Plop is for prisoners, not prospects. In the movies, when prisoners get the same old shit day after day, they riot. Your prospects won’t rebel with violence – they’ll simply ignore you. Which may be worse.

Create helpful, heroic content, not hash: consider my content marketing strategy workshop to get you started.


2 Responses to “Content Execution Excellence Part 1: Don’t Sling Hash”

  1. Jonathan,

    It was nice catching up with you yesterday. As we discussed, content strategy starts with understanding your target audience, their wants/needs/interests/pains, their buying journey, and their preferences. Once that is in order, you are ready to go, right? It’s always good to remember to avoid “content for the sake of creating content”. As you mention, it can’t be an afterthought or something that is just thrown together to get into the game.

    I would stress that you need to have a content strategy before a social media strategy – otherwise what is your story that you hope to convey?

    Thanks again for the coffee!


  2. Amen, Amanda. (I like the way that sounds!)

    You know, people often talk about “passion,” but I think it may be more important to have intellectual curiosity. If a company wants quality content, it needs to pull together a team of content creators who have the smarts to ask interesting questions and the will to find the answers. I think that’s one of the reasons content is working at OpenView — and I hope other enterprises follow your model.

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