Your Content Sucks and No One is Reading It. Here’s Why

Were any of you around for CD Baby? I wasn’t, but I read Anything You Want by Derek Sivers, the founder and architect of CD Baby and you should really go read that book It’s quick and awesome, like a dip in a freezing cold river. In the meantime, I’ll share with you the most memorable and beloved part of CD Baby. Oh, but first let me back up.

CD Baby was around in the earlier days of the internet, when CDs were around and before Amazon was the Great Overlord of Earth. So, you’d go to this site and order a CD and they’d send you a confirmation email. But not just any confirmation; the most charming email you’ll ever get from a company. And today, it shall serve as our case study.

Thanks for your order with CD Baby!

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow. A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing. Our world-renowned packing specialist lit a local artisan candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy. We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day.

We hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. In commemoration, we have placed our picture on our wall “Customer of the Year.” We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!


We miss you already. We’ll be right here at patiently awaiting your return

See what I mean? You’ve got to get this book! It’s great for entrepreneurs, but also everyone.

When I talk about good content, ^this^ is what I’m talking about. This was around before content marketing was even a thing but it’s still one of the greatest of examples of good content in the history of the internet.

What is “Good” Content?

The simplest measure of good content, and the one we’ll be talking about today, is how engaged you were. How do you know? Ask this simple question: Do I want to keep reading? It doesn’t matter the reason. Some content is informative and some is funny and some is gossipy and some is super technical. That’s what makes it such a useful question; it applies to all kinds of content. If you wanted to keep reading, it was good content.

Good content tells a story

This CD Baby email is telling several stories. It’s telling the story of a company that values creativity. It’s telling a story of customer care and experience. It’s telling one hell of a story of CD delivery. And when you’re done, you feel so good. In that way, it’s also telling you the story of a company that you want to remain loyal to.

As you develop content, keep in mind the stories being told and ask yourself if they’re true. Ask yourself if they’re stories that you want to read. This would be a good moment to dip into Simon Sinek’s golden circle talk, but I’m not even going to get into that because I don’t need to. You’ve met great story tellers in your life. It doesn’t matter what they talk about because they make everything so interesting.

Be a storyteller. Let your content tell the story of your company, your values, your people, your personality.  And if you’re not a good story-teller, hire someone who is.

Good Content Feels Like a Person Made It

Wendy’s Twitter account made a splash not too long ago for its wit and sarcasm. It doesn’t act like a sales machine or a promobot, and its certainly not beholden to stiff corporate decorum. Their Twitter account is always interacting with its followers in funny ways. At a time when retail and restaurants are taking a hit (thanks, Millennials), this fast food restaurant has 2 million followers. McDonald’s has nearly 3.5M.

It’s not because of the product, or because people love the CEO or believe in the company’s mission. It’s because those 140 characters are really good. These aren’t corporations just checking the box on social media. They have people managing their accounts, and a strategy directing them, and they’re successful because of it. People want to read and engage and connect–even with fast food restaurants in 2017.

If you forget everything else about this article, remember this: you are a human being. So is everyone who is going to read/watch/listen to your content. Be real! If you’re smart or snarky or deep, just own that. Apply it every time you create. Your content will stop sucking and start gaining followers.

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