Is content dead?

“Content is not king!” a friend of mine announced recently.

Whoa! Are these the words of a traitor in a marketplace where the gurus have been shouting the importance of content?

Yup, we’ve been hearing, reading, blogging, and preaching about the virtues of rich content for the “new marketing” movement, and its role in our SEO, our "inbound marketing,” building trust and wooing customers.

So, what was David getting at, exactly?

David is a content guy, a writer, a speaker, with years of experience and a head full of knowledge. He wasn’t saying content is dead, but went on to explain that most of the content out there is just “me-to,” a rehashing of the same old stuff, over and over again. “It’s all been written!”

I pressed him on his bold indictment and he suggested the challenge now is to present content in new ways—dynamic, interactive, fresh, accessible, relevant.

His comments messed with my own thinking. Like David, I’ve been at what I do for a long time, and through my blog and website I've been sharing a lot of the experiences I've stored up over the years. More importantly, I’ve been after my own clients to crank out content for their audiences.

So, what’s the practical application here?

A few things off the top of my head:

1. Don't write about something people already know about, or could easily find on the first page of a simple Google search. Stay away from the obvious.

2. Don't write a term paper. Yes, putting something out there in a fresh and provocative way will be harder that just spewing, but it will get easier each time.

3. Don't rely on clichés and marketing-speak. Be natural—“Dear Mom…"

4. Don't use lame stock photos or illustrations, better to leave them off.

5. Do a better job of curating the content you do push out. Put yourself in the reader's situation and ask "what do they really need to know and hear now?” And then give it a new angle, a fresh perspective

6. Do keep it short, pithy—at least the first salvo. If necessary, give them a link if they want to go deeper.

7. Do, and here’s where you might need the help of a designer, make it have some visual impact, be attention-getting, fun and easy to read.

8. Do leave them with some practical advice, some application.

9. Do make it interactive: allow comments, include a survey, add a link for a cool download.

No, content is not dead. But to keep it alive and return it to it’s place among royalty, we’re going to have to do content different. So, dazzle the world and start writing content that matters.

More about David at his website.