The quality content gold rush is on

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Last week I wrote about how content is the new gold, and to push that metaphor a little further, this week I want to talk about the value of quality, custom content.

I've been seeing more examples of this lately and it got me thinking about it in the context of content management. While systems may vary, the underlying database that manages your content is nothing truly special in and of itself. What makes it hum is not necessarily the features layered on top of that database, but the content inside of it.

This all started to gel for me as I was watching some of the new, high-quality original content on HuluPlus. I'm a subscriber and I've noticed the company is increasingly not just relying on its owners--Newscorp, Disney and Providence Equity partners (Comcast NBC-Universal is a non-voting partner)--or even contracts with other Hollywood content creators, it's generating its own original content and it's good stuff.

Take Dating Rules for my Future Self as an example. The show is quirky and funny and it's delivered in 7- to 9-minute episodes, perfect for delivery on the web, mobile device and even YouTube (which is banking on a new strategy to become more of a broadcast network for this very type of content).

What's more, the show itself is a giant ad. The main character uses an iPhone 4S to receive texts from her future self with advice, such as to dump her demeaning boyfriend before it's too late. And she drives around in a Ford Focus and the show very much focuses on the cool features of this car.

Yet it's much more than product placement. It's an entertaining tidbit. And this is just one example. HuluPlus is also running an intriguing longer-form show called Endgame about an agoraphobic chess master who helps solve crimes using his analytical, chess-genius mind.

Now, I realize that you are probably not thinking about producing your own broadcast quality content--although if you can afford it, it would be some great content marketing as Apple and Ford have shown in the earlier example--but you need to be thinking about custom quality content and what it can do for your company, regardless of what your business sells.

Earlier this week, writer David Meerman Scott wrote a blog post called Myth: "My buyers are not on the web," on his WebInkNow blog. In his post, he discusses the need for quality web-based content, no matter where you think your customers come from. "I frequently hear from people that their buyers are not on the Web. This myth is used as an excuse not to create a valuable website and to avoid creating content," Scott wrote.

And he's right. People are using the web every day and as he points out, are increasingly mobile. You need to be feeding them content to pique their interest, to show your expertise, to draw your potential customers in with something more than a conventional marketing message, or at least in conjunction with that conventional approach. And as I wrote last week in "Content marketing could be supplanting the traditional corporate blog," content marketing is the basis for any social media presence, and regardless of your business, you must have a social media strategy today or risk irrelevance.

As I write this post, I'm working on a FierceMarkets eBook, which will be released next month on customer experience management (CEM), and if I'm discovering one big feature of CEM, it's that it requires lots and lots of good content to drive the strategy.

As with every trend, it's probably going to be a gradual change, but I see many companies who have content marketing strategies as a matter of course today, while others are slow to adopt or--as in Scott's example--simply don't believe it's relevant.

But one thing is clear, as we move forward, having quality original content is going to be absolutely crucial and that's true whether you're HuluPlus or a mom and pop, brick and mortar shop.

Because there's surely content gold in them thar hills. I know because I've seen it myself. - Ron