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Why ‘Content Is King’ is Only Half the Story

Is Content Really King?

Does the following sequence sound similar to how you execute your content marketing?

You develop a list of long-tail keywords, making sure there’s not too much competition. Then, you develop a fancy content calendar and plan when each post will be created and published.

As your posts continually get published, you may begin to see traffic and even keyword rankings. And here’s where the real problem begins.

Most, if not all, of your posts get few if any social shares. This would be fine if your content was generating leads… but it’s not.

So you’re left wondering, what did I miss?

The truth is, “content is king” is just half of the story to successful content marketing.

Let me show you why.

The following is a post on GKIC.com, where marketing experts Bill Glazer and Dan Kennedy share their tips for small business success.


Including the P.S. (which is really a promotional pitch) this article has a whopping total of 294 words. What’s more, the “10 rules” are presented as-is with no explanation or examples to clarify what they mean.

To those that see content as “king”, this post doesn’t seem very royal, right?


Take a quick look at BuzzSumo and you’ll see that this post received around 2,000 total shares:


Source: Buzzsumo stats from 1/2016

The same phenomenon happens all the time on top marketing sites like Hubspot and Marketo.

When I first used to stumble on posts like this, I dismissed it as the exception.

“Content is king” and I truly believed that.

Well, it wasn’t until I actually tried releasing longer, more “king” content for my clients that I started to realize that maybe there was something hidden in these exceptions I was blinded to.

The fact is that there are dozens of other better written, more comprehensive posts from smaller, unknown websites than the above example. I can almost guarantee you that these posts have few, if any social shares at all.

And if you focus solely on creating “king” content, you’ll end up just like them.

What you write, quite frankly, isn’t as important as the first thing you likely miss in your content marketing strategy…


Think of the last time you were shopping around for an apartment or house. The first thing you do is look at the pictures, location, and price.

If the pictures are god-awful – or the location is a block from skid row – you’ll never take the next step to an in-person tour.

You’ve already concluded it’s not worthy of your time.

This is what I call a pre-frame.

No matter how great the house is, you will never see it unless it passes these three criteria. These three criteria act as the keys to authority in your eyes. If a listing fails to perform well in these areas, you will block it from your attention.

This same pre-frame process happens to us in every facet of our lives – including how we digest content.

Authority is the stage on which your content performs.

-Tweet This!

So what are the criteria that control authority for content marketing?

While there are a number of variables (and each industry varies), your contents authority is controlled by primarily one thing:

Your Relationship with your visitor

The reason the above example from GKIC performed so well most likely had nothing to do with its content. It had to do with the audience it was presented to.

Readers already valued the GKIC brand name and were ready to share with others their vote in confidence.

When you have a captive audience that already values your authority, content marketing is probably the easiest form of marketing you can do.

So what if the goal of your content marketing is to attract new followers and build your brand from ground zero?

While it’s important to ensure your content is high in quality, a greater emphasis must then be placed on establishing your brand’s authority.

The Brick Wall of Doubt

When targeting new visitors to your content, realize that your visitors have no prior relationship with you.

As all humans do when interacting with strangers, your new visitors will consequently be skeptical, weary, and untrusting. Most important, however, is the status you’ll be assigned to by their pre-frame.

Oren Klaff, a venture capitalist with a talent for turning even the most unheard of deals into prized assets, says this about interactions with cold visitors:

“It doesn’t matter how well you argue, the way your points are crafted, or how elegant your flow and logic. If you do not have high status, you will not command the attention necessary to make your pitch heard. You will not persuade, and you will not easily get a deal done.”

Time and time again I see Facebook and LinkedIn sponsored content from brands I’ve never heard of before. When I land on the content piece, I’m immediately given a series of tips or tactics.

Sure, some of the content is great. So I do exactly what Terry, my chihuahua terrier mix, would do if you popped your head over my fence and threw her a big juicy t-bone..

I grab it and sprint right back to my dog house.

When you focus solely on giving content without establishing authority, your audience responds in a similar fashion. They take your tips but as soon as you ask for an email or purchase they run.

The goal of content marketing, then, should not be to give the best tips or information available. It should be to brand and establish yourself as an authority to your visitor while still delivering some form of value.

And the easiest way to establish authority is via carefully engineered “belief bridges”.

The Art of the Belief Bridge

From the example above with you popping over my fence and throwing a t-boke over, sure Terry would take it. But I can guarantee that after every bite of it, she’d snarl and bark at you.

You’re a stranger on her territory. That pre-frame will always be there, no matter how juicy the steak.


A negative pre-frame in action

You’ve begun the interaction from a status of stranger and have a near-impossible hurdle of overcoming that label.

Now what if I had walked you into the backyard and introduced you to her instead, reassuring her that you’re OK and everything’s safe?

She’d not only take the steak, but would warm up to you in minutes.

Terry’s trust in me would act as the bridge from fear to acceptance. This would make it easier for you to not only give my dog the steak, but also allow you to develop a relationship with her (licks and paw-shakes included).

This same concept is the reason why referral traffic and guest posting delivers hot leads and visitors that view more pages than colder traffic.

And it’s the same reason why consumers are 77% more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family. (Nielsen)

referral-and-relationshipsUsing Borrowed Authority as a Belief Bridge

When sending cold traffic to your content, you don’t have the luxury of an introduction from an authority your visitor values and trusts. That, however, doesn’t mean you can’t borrow from the authority sources your cold traffic values and forces onto your content.

As Eugene Schwartz, copywriting and marketing legend, has said in his book, “Breakthrough Advertising”, people already have established patterns of belief and logic. Trying to change or alter these thought patterns will cost you a great deal of money and likey fail.

Instead, you should work to resonate with their beliefs and use this to build conviction for whatever your case may be.

Walter Dill Scott, a hundred years ago wrote this on advertisements:

“Nothing is regarded as worthy of our consideration which does not relate itself to our previous experience. In fact, we can imagine nothing which is out of relation to all our previous experiences. Things and events are only significant in so far as they signify relationships which we know.”

In essence, use your reader’s logic, not your own, to present your information.

Feed your readers the facts, figures, and citations that they value as “proof” that you are legitimate and an authority.

Use their established beliefs, views, and lingo to position yourself in the high authority frame so needed for your content to succeed.

This is the easiest way to build trust and authority immediately with your traffic.

Remember, however, that all of this pre-framing is solely to set the right stage for your content.

What “Content Is King” Really Means

Us bloggers are a picky bunch when it comes to liking facebook pages, linking to sites, and buying digital products. While we can all agree that “king” content that’s highly in-depth, useful, and emotionally stimulating is an admirable pursuit for all marketers, in itself this aim does not lead to success.

There is much resistance in the mind of your viewer preventing them from truly valuing your content. You must first break down this resistance before they can actually enjoy and value what you share.

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Alphonso, founder of Web Enlighten, shows small business owners how to maximize sales, leads, and engagement online. Try a few of his simple strategies revealed in the free guide, The Practical Performance Marketer's Playbook.

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