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The Sam Phillips Guide to Content Marketing

The Million-Dollar Quartet (Jerry Lee, Johnny, Elvis, Carl)

I had the pleasure of seeing Million Dollar Quartet over the weekend, a musical about the day that Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis came together on December 4, 1956 at Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. Sun Records was the brainchild of Sam Phillips (in many circles thought of as the father of Rock and Roll).

Sam was always looking for something different.  Sam knew that the same old song (or story) wouldn’t sell.

When Elvis Presley came to see Sam he’d never sung a song outside his own bedroom.  Elvis’s audition song for Sam was a Dean Martin song. Copying Dean Martin’s style just wouldn’t do. Sam Phillips was not impressed.

When Johnny Cash came to see Mr. Phillips, he auditioned with a timid gospel song, trying to mimic what Johnny heard on the radio.  Again, Sam Phillips was not impressed.

“If you ain’t singing something new you ain’t singing at all,” says Phillips.

Needless to say, Sam Phillips helped both Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and countless others find their stories, and the rest is history.

The Sam Phillips Guide to Content Marketing

So many marketers and brand content developers are looking to fill content gaps with more of the same.  That may work on occasion in the short-term, but in order for long-term success, you need a unique story…a story that focuses on the real pain points and challenges of your customers with a distinct view that is only yours.

Sam Phillips knew that without a unique story, nothing could be accomplished.  Here are some Sam Phillips outtakes from an interview that drives the content marketing concept home.

Find Your Unique Story

“From the beginning I was very much interested in exploring some paths that had not been trodden and looking for the hidden possibilities.”

Be Simple and Authentic with Your Message

“To me, simplicity and naturalness are the key ingredients for a good recording, and I still feel that way even with 48 tracks today.”

Everyone, Even Elvis, Needs a Managing Editor

“When Elvis came in and he performed those first two songs, I was blown away by this guy’s talent. By that I don’t mean that I heard the finished thing.”

Target a Specific Buyer, Not Everyone

“We’ve got to approach this thing to try to get the attention of younger people, and I knew that tempo had a lot to do with that back then, rather than just a great lyric and beautiful melody.”

Extract the Best from Your Content Creators

“I think a great part – if not the major part – of my success was working with my artists.”

“Really, Johnny [Cash] was disappointed when I told him there was just really no way I could sell these darned good Southern gospel songs that he had written, but I knew that I had enough on my plate to try to sell him. He wasn’t country, he wasn’t rock, and so I thank God that I didn’t try to make something out of him but what he was.”

Understand How Your Buyer Uses Media Channels

“I knew that people had heard records on jukeboxes in live little restaurants and dives, and what I tried to do with that type of echo and the sparse instrumentation was to make the sound not too foreign to the average ear.”

All in all, these six major concepts led, in part, to Sam Phillips’ success (and your success as well). What’s your story?