The Big Problem with the Phrase “Add Value” in Content Marketing

by Marcus Sheridan

I wonder what would happen if, when children created art, we replied with "But does it add value?"

I wonder what would happen if, when children created art, we replied with “But does it add value?”

Recently, while in the midst of a Twitter conversation with a few folks, I was reminded of a statement that raises my blood pressure every time I hear it:

“Marcus, I understand why you’re suggesting companies should produce content, but if what they’re saying doesn’t add value to the conversation, then they shouldn’t publish it in the first place.”

Ahh yes, the “add value” debate.


Missing the Mark

Please take a moment to give the following questions a “yes” or “no” answer as you follow along:

1. If a business owner writes a blog post today that, even though it never gets read by a single soul helped said business owner clarify in his mind how to better communicate about his service, product, or company, did the act of writing the post add value?

2. If a company writes 20 blog posts that never get read by a single soul, but after writing the articles said company morphs them together and comes up with an effective training manual for future employees, did the 20 articles add value?

3. If a business writes a blog post that never gets a single “like” or “tweet” or “share” in social media but manages to help one person solve a problem they were having, does it add value?

4. If someone in the marketing department for a company gets a better understanding of how their customers think while interviewing a sales person and then writes a blog post that never gets read, did the experience add any value?

5. If a solopreneur makes his or her first video on YouTube (therefore learning the process for future videos), does the video still add value if no one ever watches it?

6. If I write a blog post today that forces me to outline my feelings on a topic—feelings that haven’t been distilled and verbalized up to this point but will likely now find their way into a future presentation I give, have I not added value in some way even if the article is not enjoyed by anyone else?

As you might imagine, I could go on all day long with examples of how communication—or the process of distilling our thoughts via text, video, or some other manner—add extreme value, be it to our own lives, our companies, or a small group of people.

Creating Art

Those that have been engaged in any type of content marketing for some time understand exactly what I’m saying here.

Those that have not (or the ones that have missed the mark) will continue to say, “But if it doesn’t add value…”

Show me someone’s art—a creation of their mind—and I’ll show you value.

They themselves may not even realize the impact, but trust me, it’s there.

Am I saying here that things like “quality” and “effort” don’t matter? No, not at all. Of course they matter, and of course the goal is that quality of anyone’s “content” will improve over time.

But we’ve all got to start somewhere, just as children do when they pick up their first crayon.

So do yourself a favor. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Don’t pay attention to the internet police. Don’t allow your art—however you create it—to be squelched by those who feel they’ve been assigned the job of defining a phrase that simply has no tangible definition in the first place.

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