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Content is Still King: Or Why Poets are Better than Sales Reps

Words matter on the web. They matter a great deal.

And as we all know by now, the web is extraordinarily efficient at getting the word out. If you have something of value—something that answers questions, solves problems, or fills a perceived gap in people’s lives—trust me, the word will get out.

Why I Hate Superbowl Ads

How many Facebook ads have you seen on billboards, television screens or magazine pages? How about during the Super Bowl? Facebook didn’t need to pay for ads that have dubious returns at best. It found a better, low cost and more easily measurable way to reach people: it finds users through other users.

Extreme example I know, but the halls of MBA programs across the country are littered with the case-study remains of Internet companies that had enormous marketing budgets and burn rates, but failed to solve basic problems and capitalize on the web’s number one asset: the efficiency of word-of-mouth advertising.

This doesn’t make Marketing Departments obsolete in the digital age. If anything, it makes them even more crucial, provided they’re staffed with the right people. Let me explain.

The Greatest Deal in the History of Civilization

Old school marketing was too often about who could yell the loudest. Its mantra was mine’s bigger than yours.

My TV ad has more stars in it. My billboard has the most flashing neon lights (think Times Square). My radio spot uses the most car horns or ringing cell phones to steal your attention away (don’t you just hate that). And, ultimately, my budget is bigger than yours, so I can afford to yell the loudest and “market to” (read annoy) the most people.

Thankfully, the times-they-are-a-changing.

Effective marketing in the digital age is all about crafting information in persuasive ways that provide customers with value by responding to needs and solving problems.

The companies and organizations that respond to needs and solve problems the best will have a huge competitive advantage; they will be the success-stories of tomorrow’s headlines.

The Web is democratizing in the sense that bigger is no longer always better. Better is better. Quality counts and it counts for a hell of a lot.

First Hire Quality, Then Count the Money

So where exactly does this quality come from, and how do you get it?

In my experience it comes from marketing departments that value language and communication above all else.

Language, the written and spoken word, is the tool that propels word-of-mouth advertising, social media, SEO, SEM—the whole shebang.

If you want to attract tons of traffic to your site, find people who love language and know how to use it most effectively. Successful companies understand this as a best practice, employ it as a strategy, live by it as a mantra, and trive.

I don’t care if they’re MBA’s, English majors, philosopher kings or poets; whatever it takes find them, hire them, embrace them—hell, go ahead and coddle them.

Cultivate an organization where language is cherished and the metrics you seek, along with the dollars, will follow.

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