Content Marketing StrategyRyan's Rants

Content is King – the Greatest Fallacy in Marketing

By March 3, 2014 7 Comments

Ivory Tower Content is King

Content is King is an ivory tower, inhabited by the content marketing evangelist.

It’s a fantastic exercise in wishful thinking – a catchphrase that simultaneously sweeps away the expensive and challenging precedents of modern marketing, and replaces them with a shiny new paradigm.

I’d like to believe that Content is King. I can see its appeal. Imagine if we no longer needed to concern ourselves with the dirty-work of marketing; the research, metrics, KPIs, advertising, strategy and analysis; if marketing was suddenly a whole lot simpler, and a whole lot easier; if we just had to write fantastic content – and the rest would follow.


[googlefont font=”Oswald” size=”30px”]3 contenders to the Content is King throne[/googlefont]

Unfortunately, the paradigm is flawed, and Content is King doesn’t work: and applying its ethos to your agency will cripple your marketing efforts. If you want to benefit from the power of content, you need to understand that content isn’t king; it’s just ¼ of the big picture.

Successful content marketing needs to factor in these 3 contenders to the throne:



Content marketing is based on exchange. We solicit the time, attention and custom of our visitors; and in exchange, we offer them something of value. Unfortunately, content alone isn’t valuable.

Everything we write has to be created with a particular person in mind; a buyer persona. These buyer personas represent our target audience, their likes and dislikes, their passions and their fears.  For content to attract the attention and time of our target audience, it has to address a topic that they care about – solving a common problem, offering some beneficial advice, or just appealing to particular passion. Without time spent in targeting our content, our marketing will have no impact.


distribution banner content is king

As much as we’d love to believe it, content marketing has yet to transcend SEO, social media and email marketing. Despite a vast array of commentary declaring otherwise (including my own take on keyword density), these 3 established practices represent the most important distribution channels for your content.

If you want your content to be shared, promoted and engaged with – it has to be seen. It’s no coincidence that the most vocal proponents of the Content is King ethos are those agencies with the greatest established audiences. They can afford to sit on their laurels; but we can’t.

Fantastic content can only trigger organic growth if it has a target audience; so every time you publish a post, you need to promote it through the most relevant channels.

To paraphrase a misquote from a film I haven’t seen:
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‘If you build it… they might not come.’


conversion content is king

Conversion is the ultimate goal of marketing. It’s where your efforts come to fruition, and you finally see your ROI.

If you want to convert your visitors, you need consistency. A single piece of stand-alone content is unlikely to nurture sufficient trust between brand and visitor to contribute to a sale. Content, and it’s value,  has to be sustained. Even then, targeted content only lays the foundation for conversion – it’s the CTAs and landing pages that are responsible for generating sales. They offer the opportunity for visitors to apply the motivation instilled by your content.

Valuable content can attract a visitor to your website – but unless you signpost a clear path through it, from the point of entry to your sales page, it’s unlikely you’ll ever convert them.


[googlefont font=”Oswald” size=”30px”]Fuel the marketing fire[/googlefont]

In short, great content isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of modern marketing. Far from it; it’s simply fuel for the fire.

  • Content allows you to flesh-out your marketing.
  • It allows your business and brand to put its money where its mouth is, and back up its claims to legitimacy, trust and value.
  • Content alone doesn’t attract, nurture or convert – but together with targeting, distribution and conversion, it represents the most powerful tool in a modern marketer’s arsenal.


[googlefont font=”Oswald” size=”30px”]Content is King 2.0[/googlefont]

You’re waiting for me to conclude with a concise and memorable catchphrase, right? A witty alternative to Content is King, something that we can band about in our Slideshares and commentaries.

Sorry guys. No dice. It’s exactly that desire that created the fallacy of Content is King. As much as we’d love it to be, content isn’t a marketing panacea. It’s a valuable tool, but one that requires consistency, dedication, analysis and improvement – and we’d all do very well to remember that.


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[googlefont font=”Oswald” size=”20px”]Looking to bust some other content marketing myths?[/googlefont]




Author Ryan

I help SaaS companies grow with content marketing. I also drink Scotch. Sometimes together. CMO & co-founder, Cobloom.

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