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Quality Content: It’s All in the Mix

Posted on: 05/07/2013
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Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a great appreciation for good food and premium cocktails. And ever since I moved to Raleigh from San Antonio, TX — the mecca for Tex-Mex and margaritas — I’ve been on a relentless search for the perfect margarita. (You know… the kind that doesn’t contain 75% sweet and sour mix). Fortunately, after taking my position at Centerline Digital, I heard a rumor that our CEO, Charles, made one of the best margaritas in town. (I’ll share the recipe with you in a bit.)

One Friday evening, I finally got the opportunity to try my first Centerline margarita. As Charles poured, we spoke:

Me: Wow. This is fantastic, and yet, seems like such a simple recipe. I don’t understand how so many people screw it up.

Charles: I’ll tell you why. It’s because people take shortcuts and they don’t use quality ingredients.

A short and simple exchange of words, yet it got me thinking: Isn’t that the problem we often see in content marketing — people taking shortcuts and forgetting the quality portion of their mix? Quality content should engage people, be relevant, provide value, be easily consumable, and provide an overall good representation of your brand.

First impressions are just as important in the digital world as the real world – and they last indefinitely.

I can’t count how many times I’ve fallen for the artful deception of a “Top Shelf or Premium” margarita at a restaurant, and then received nothing more than a mediocre tequila topped with a sweet and sour concoction of high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, and other “natural” ingredients.

Now, each one looked like a margarita… arriving in a glass rimmed with salt and a lime wedge. But after the first sip, I was immediately turned off. Furthermore, I wasn’t wasting my time or money ordering another one since they clearly couldn’t deliver the first time.

So what does that have to do with creating quality content?

If you take shortcuts and turn off your audience with bad content now, do you think they’ll come back and engage with your brand again later? As marketers, it’s important to look at each piece of content that we put out into the world as another first impression. Every piece should act as a stepping-stone toward building brand loyalty and earning new customers. Using shortcuts and “OK” content only takes companies further away from their goals and puts them at risk for making a bad impression with new and existing clients.

Putting in the extra time to create unique and engaging content is worth it in the long run. Not only can you improve brand perception, but you also ensure that the content produced today doesn’t come back to haunt you later (as we know content can live in perpetuity online).

Keep it Simple & Consumable

When restaurants leave me high and dry, I try to find my own margarita recipes. But even the most carefully crafted margarita may not be the best… they can be overdone. Like the one that requires 10 ingredients, muddling fruit, and trying to cut perfectly symmetric garnishes. Let’s face it, it’s time consuming, not very practical, and at the end of the day probably doesn’t taste much better (if at all) than the margarita that has 4 ingredients.

This is another crucial component of quality content: Keep your message simple and easily consumable, with a clear call to action. Overwhelming or hard-to-find information isn’t practical and can leave your audience frustrated. The key is to use language that suits the audience you’re trying to reach, keeping in mind that you don’t have to be ostentatious with words to have a powerful impact.

Be Relevant & Insightful

Creating content with flashy images and using text filled with industry buzzwords may bring your audience through the door; but if there’s not a quality story living within those words or valuable insights behind the graphics, consumers will figure that out after reading the first few lines (or taking the first couple sips) of your content.

No matter how you package it, people will eventually see through smoke and mirrors to spot bad content. That’s why it is crucial to deliver valuable, relevant information to your audience. Operating in a digital world that is filled with noise, it’s authentic, inspiring and targeted content that must be delivered to stand out amongst the competition.

“Quality is not an act. It is a habit.” – Aristotle

Regardless of your choice of cocktail, it’s important to remember that content should be a careful mix of quality ingredients that delivers value up front to your audience, encouraging them to return and increasing brand loyalty.

(Thirsty for more content? Check out Content Marketing Art of War).

And as promised, here’s the Centerline Margarita – a quality beverage that is short, simple and to the point. It serves two because drinking is more fun with a friend.

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6oz Premium Tequila
(1800 Anejo or Herradura Reposado are my favorites)

4oz Cointreau (or Grand Marnier)

2oz Rose’s Lime Juice

Squeeze fresh lime to taste

Add salt and fresh lime wedge to rim

Shake, serve, and drink… Cheers!

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