Tuesday 2¢: Is your content fish, chips, or the paper?

This week a break from my recent COVID-19 fair, as this Tuesday 2¢ is about content and an important question we need to ask.

Although, if you are craving a bit of corona crisis there is a very thorough article on the rather depressing future of air travel on The Atlantic that dives into some of the stuff I was talking about a few weeks ago.


I’ve been thinking about why it’s hard for many marketers to care about the hard problems of content management. Things like classification, taxonomy structures, componentizing, or even having all their digital assets in one system that can be shared across the business.

And, for some reason, possibly because I’m craving leaving the house for a meal and I’m on a low carb diet, an analogy using our supposedly* national dish of fish and chips popped into my head.

Organizations need to decide if their content is the fish, chips, or paper it’s wrapped in.

Years ago, here in the UK, your takeaway fish and chips was wrapped in an old newspaper. This created the saying that “today’s news is tomorrow’s chip paper”, meaning that what seems super relevant right now is not important tomorrow.

For many execution marketers running on the hamster wheel, content is tomorrow’s chip paper. It serves a purpose today, it ticks off the thing to be done and they move on to the next thing. The content is old news, barely worth filing, let alone neatly, they don’t think they’ll need to find it again.

For them the fish, the good stuff is the activity, getting something out on ‘snapfacechat’, into our inboxes, or somehow interrupting our day. The chips are the empty content calories of push, remarketing, or poorly executed PPC that bulks up the campaign.

Might be stretching this analogy a little, but wander into their chippie and the menu board says something like

| webinar

| blog post

| whitepaper

| saveloy

– all, of course, available with chips.

Me, I think the content is the fish, beautifully filleted, dipped in beer batter, fried to perfection, and satisfying to consume. It’s important for us to understand what fish it is, so that we can serve a discerning audience that is very specific about having cod, haddock, or rock.

The chips are the content we create to accompany the fish, the snackable elements (pardon the pun) that compliment it perfectly, the stats, quotes, creative, infographics, and snippets that tease us for the main event.

The paper is the channel, how we wrap up this content feast.

Nobody judges a chip shop by the quality of the paper. The chips are the mark of a great chippie, but if you want the whole meal, the fish is the star of the show.

Of course, this analogy falls apart when you start thinking about reuse, as I am now quite hungry, but, hey…

Is your content the fish, chips or paper?

*Fish and chips is no longer our national dish, that’s curry (according to British Heritage no less), but I haven’t thought of a curry-flavored content marketing analogy.. yet.

BTW – I’m just unveiling a new thing called martech insiders would be wonderful if you took a look.

Fancy more of this?

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