Content is a very lonely king (and he needs some pants)
I was once told that If you put a £5 note for sale in the window, you can sell it for £5 or maybe even more, but if you put it way at the back of the shop, hidden away and try to sell it for 50p, it still won't sell.
Lesson: No matter how good the product is, if it's not where your customers can see it then it's worthless.
Offline vs online
Contrary to what you've been told, a website isn't very different from a traditional bricks and mortar shop. Business is still business and customers whether online or offline, are still customers. These customers have the same core principals and react to the same triggers, whether reading an article online our buying a can of Coke in a shop.
Business is not just a money for product exchange. Publishers forget this, they exclude themselves from traditional business.
"I don't sell products, I create content". You don't just create content, you sell content. You don't exchange it directly for money, you rely on advertising so it feels as thought it's free. You get paid so that still counts as selling content.
Treating your content as a product is the first step to understanding how to sell it to your customers.
Products don't sell themselves
When we create content we expect the quality of it to be enough to convince people to consume it. It's not enough. Now that you understand that your content is a product let's take a real world product as an example.
I love crunchy nut cornflakes, they're delicious, I know that and so does Kellogg's. They're so good that Kellogg's should just make them and wait for the customers to line up at the factories and buy them. They don't.
Kellogs invest millions in making sure that they have a good supply chain strategy. They need to send the correct product variations to the right distribution channels (supermarkets, wholesalers, local shops). The big supermarket where I do my weekly shop, will have the big value boxes, the smaller markets will have smaller ones to keep me going during the week and local shops will have quick easy packs to consume instantly. This distribution is so important that if they don't have them where I shop, I'll pick up an alternative from a rival cereal maker.
Online content is no different, I like the guardian, but I also use Facebook to consume a lot of my news. If the guardian don't have a story on Facebook but a rival does. Guess who's getting my click.
Lesson: Identify all the distribution channels where your users are, and make sure your content is there.
The King, the queen, and the jester
"Content is king", too many people throw this quote around without understanding how a kingdom actually works, You're content is nothing if you don't know how to present it to your users.
Distribution is a key part of your business, and if it isn't already, then it should be. A well executed distribution strategy may hold the key to unlocking the growth you are so desperate for.
Gary Vayernchuck famously said "Content Is King, Distribution Is Queen, And She Wears The Pants."
The majority of those that just scream "content is king" usually don't even have the content worthy of this. Judging purely on content, they're more akin to the court jester.
You want a kingdom but you have no queen, and she has the pants, so you're a king with no pants, and that's just silly.
No distribution equals no growth. No growth is negative growth and while you are not growing, user consumption is, so If it's not your content getting consumed then it's a rivals.
So keep ignoring the queen, and you'll be out of your throne sooner than you think.
- November 9th, 2015