Who Should Rule, Content or Marketing?

Over on his blog, Nashville writer Jeff Goins questions whether content is really king.

Well, actually, no he doesn’t. he said content is not king anymore. It’s a “fat, dethroned monarch, dis-empowered of his royal ability to influence.”

Janus, the two-faced Roman god, should represent content marketing.

Janus, the two-faced Roman god, should represent content marketing.

Marketing — or as Jeff calls it, “relationships” — are the true king. Without relationships, without marketing, it doesn’t matter how awesome your writing is.

I used to be terrible at this. I thought all I had to do was be a good writer. But I was wrong.

I was scared. And lazy. I didn’t want to have to actually meet people. I just wanted to write.

But that’s not how the world works. So why would I think for one minute the Web would work that way? Yes, even in real life, it’s not just what you know that matters, but also who you know.

And even in business, the best way to promote an idea, product, or service is relationship. We all know this, because in this day of media saturation, we don’t buy what the ads tell us to buy. We buy what our friends recommend.

If I have to give an edge to either of them, I still side with content. Because hidden content can accidentally be discovered one day. I might write a post that gets picked up by search engines, and I could start being found for that topic.

But I could optimize and promote the bejeezus out of something really awful, and a lot of people could see it, but what do you think would happen if everyone showed up and saw — and said — how awful it was?

Still, it’s not a question of whether content or marketing is king.

Content Marketing Rules

This does not have to be an either/or proposition. You shouldn’t have to choose one over the other. And no, this is not one of those “why can’t everyone just get along” cop-outs that I detest. This is like arguing about whether peanut butter or jelly is more important on a PBJ.

Content and marketing have a symbiotic relationship. One cannot exist without the other. You can have great content, but if your marketing sucks, no one will see your stuff. And you can have great marketing, but if your writing sucks, no one will care.

There has to be a happy medium here. Or at the very least, we have to recognize that Content/Marketing is a two-faced king, like Janus, the Roman god of beginnings. You can’t have good marketing and lousy content, and you can’t have lousy marketing and good content. Without one, the other will die.

Content without good marketing is a private diary. Marketing without good content is spam.

I think once writers realize they need to market, we’ll see a bigger explosion in books and ebooks. And once marketers realize that content is not some throwaway afterthought, they’ll start seeing an explosion in sales and profits.

And if you want to learn how to do both, you can buy Branding Yourself or No Bullshit Social Media to see how.

(See what I did there?)

Photo credit: mscolly (Flickr)

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    About Erik Deckers

    Erik Deckers is the President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing and social media marketing agency He co-authored four social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media with Jason Falls (2011, Que Biz-Tech), and Branding Yourself with Kyle Lacy (3rd ed., 2017, Que Biz-Tech), and The Owned Media Doctrine (2013, Archway Publishing). Erik has written a weekly newspaper humor column for 10 papers around Indiana since 1995. He was also the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, FL.


    1. Great stuff man. Here’s the thing that I’m learning: Content IS marketing.

      That said, every once in awhile you gotta give a little nudge to even the best messages. However, the quality of content will ensure its longevity (or short-lived lifespan).

    2. Great post Erik! We totally agree with your points here that content and marketing go together like peanut butter and jelly. Businesses that have the most ingrained knowledge about their industry and niches and are able to proliferate that knowledge through content will will out over those that push market.