There was a time when we all hailed King Content; when content was viewed as the bedrock of any marketing endeavor and all other campaign elements paled in comparison.

I remember the days when marketers would come out with statements like, “Content is the lifeblood of the marketing industry,” and “Without content, I don’t think I could get up in the morning,” and “Christ I love content. Where can I get my hands on more content?”

Industry types were so enamored with the whole thing that we saw SEO and PR agencies rebranding themselves as content marketing businesses. But I’m wondering if people are still as keen as they used to be?

Make your message a good one and then present it to only those people who will definitely be interested.

God, this is dull

Thanks to the surfeit of free-to-use social platforms available online today, everyone and their mother can contribute to the deafening din of attention seekers. (Look, I’m doing it right now, and so is my mother.) Also, the inevitability of these platforms becoming monetized means corporate advertisers weigh in as well.

Marketing and advertising is absolutely everywhere. One quick jaunt online could see you accosted by pop-up ads, banner ads, sponsored ads, Google search ads, PPC ads, YouTube ads, flash ads, email ads, AdWords ads, Ads-In-Your-Face ads…Sound familiar?

This ad-overload isn’t exclusive to the internet either. Living in London I’m rarely free from the imposition of advertising. Whether I’m walking down the street, stood at a bus stop or sat on the Tube, I’ll be hounded by a stream of posters trying to flog me things I’m almost certain I don’t need. Pet insurance? No thanks. Credit card at 16.5% APR? No thanks. Cheap flights to Yemen? No thanks. Tickets to Guys and Dolls? Actually, yeah, all right.

It’s gotten so bad that it would seem almost all the available surfaces have now been taken up. In 2009 Air New Zealand infamously purchased the back of a Californian woman’s head so they could tattoo (temporarily) on it.

Julien Smith is co-author of the book Trust Agents, a best seller about gaining influence online. Speaking at last year’s New Media Expo in Las Vegas he said: “We’re being constantly bombarded and it’s dulling us. [As marketers] we need to be more rigorous with our ideas process and constantly thinking about our trust levels, our reach, and if we’re producing something unique and interesting.”

Penetrate the wall of nonsense that’s stopping good content reaching the right audiences.

Sharpen up

A more rigorous ideas process, Julien explained, refines and sharpens ideas into bitesized and tangible messages that will penetrate the wall of nonsense that’s stopping good content reaching the right audiences. The key to creating a strong marketing message is to focus on its need to be interesting – if it’s not specific, or entertaining, or useful, people will disregard it along with the thousands of other boring ads they see every day.

“Ask yourself,” said Julien, “if I said this at a party would people be interested?”

Well, of course they wouldn’t Julien, it’s a party, get a grip.

Marketing bozo: Hey, Brian, good to see ya. How’s the family?

Brian: Oh hey Kyle. They’re well thanks. How are you?

Marketing bozo: You know Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut cornflakes, Brian?

Brian: Uhhhmmmyyyyesss…?

Marketing bozo: Well the trouble is they taste too good! Amarite??

Brian: …

I’m not sure it matters how clever your marketing content is, people at a party aren’t usually going to want to hear it, but I see Julien’s point. What I would take from this is that you’ll have a better chance at engaging people if you concentrate on making your message a good one and then presenting it to only those people who will definitely be interested. That means knowing your audience and working out your personas. Kyle didn’t know his audience and now Brian thinks he’s a plonker.

The obsession with content being king has led the marketing arena to become overrun with invaluable, wishy-washy, boring messages all vying for attention from people who don’t really care anymore. The din has become so dense that even the really strong marketing ideas are getting drowned out.

So if King Content is to continue its reign, I’d argue that ensuring your marketing endeavours include only well constructed, precise content is more important now than ever.