“Is content king?” Every year, this question gets dragged out in marketing discussions as we ride through the rise of various tools, technologies, and fads. Because content takes a lot of time to create and seems less sexy than tools, technologies, and fads, marketers often look for shortcuts. Focusing too much on website design, social media platforms, mobile devices and apps, marketing automation software, and analytics can often lead marketers to ignore content in lieu of snazzier marketing tactics.

But…content is king. You can only ignore it to your peril. That’s why we often see…

  • Beautiful, slick, expensive websites—with bad content.
  • Busy Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram feeds that churn out bad content.
  • A mobile app that looks hip and modern—but features bad content.
  • Marketing automation software that helps you create, publish, and track bad content.
  • Analytics platforms that accurately track how well your bad content is doing.

See the problem? If you don’t strategically address your core content, all of your other tactics fail. So how do you get content back on the king’s throne again?

Know thyself. Use content to define your value proposition.

Think about how your content helps define what you do, how you do it differently (and better) than others, and why your product or service matters to your audience. To get to the heart of your value proposition, you need feedback from everyone—users, sales, product teams, key stakeholders, etc.—about what makes you special.

Examine your content’s value proposition to identify marketing issues.

Dig deeper than numbers by also qualitatively examining the content you’re offering. Does it support your value proposition? For example, if you’re struggling with SEO, look at what content people see when they end up on a landing page, homepage, or any highly trafficked page on your website. A bad bounce rate or low click-through rate on an ad may actually be a content problem where people see a weak value proposition when they arrive.

Challenge content even when metrics look good.

Many times, organizations will defend bad content by pointing to measurements that show people flocking to a specific page or item. For example, before a website redesign you might see that lots of people go to a FAQ page. That doesn’t necessarily mean the FAQ page is any good. It may mean that people desperately go to that page because they can’t find answers throughout the rest of the website. Dig into that data. If traffic is high but bounce rate is also high, users aren’t getting the content they’re starving for. Don’t just rely on first glance up/down metrics to measure the “success” of existing content.

Realize that creating good content takes time—but it’s worth the investment.

All of your marketing tactics need to support quality content that communicates your value proposition. It may take some time, effort, trial, and error to get it all nailed down. But once you do, your value proposition will clearly stand out to customers whether they find you through search engines, paid media, social media, or offline.