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On an excellent, fun, energetic discussion panel I participated in at the Vocus Demand Success 2014 conference, there was one point I made that, to me, represents my most important idea in content marketing, the idea that I would like to see every content marketer embrace:

Content marketing cannot fix a bad product or service.

In fact, no form of marketing, PR, or advertising can make up for bad products or poor service.

Content marketing can help strengthen a relationship, unquestionably. It can buy you time while you get product or service issues worked out. Content marketing can give your customers additional reasons to stay engaged with you. But it cannot fix core problems with your products or services (unless content is your product/service).

In the worst case scenario, as brands attempt to become publishers and media, content marketing becomes another product that suffers from the same problems and issues that the core products and services suffer from.

Let’s say you had a million dollars to spend on marketing. If your product or service is lackluster, spend $950,000 on improving your product or service to the point where it was excellent, where people wanted to talk about it, and then content marketing will begin to take care of itself. Instead of you having to astroturf the perception that people like you, your product or service would be of such quality that people actually would like you and talk about you.

Think about the brands you already buy from. How many of them have a crap product that you willingly overlook because they are excellent content marketers? I’d venture to say that number is fairly close to none. We all like great content. We all like great marketing (defined as marketing that is helpful or entertaining). But at the end of the day, we all want a brand to fulfill its promise to us by delivering the product or service that we paid for.

Disclosure: Vocus is a client of my employer.


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