In 1989, the Wells Fargo CEO Dispensed Some Timeless Content Marketing Advice

Faced with bank deregulation and increased competition in the 1980s, former Wells Fargo CEO Carl Reichardt understood that cutting costs was essential. Reichardt was up to the task. And, fortunately for Wells Fargo shareholders, he was extremely good at it.

His cost-cutting crusade is well-documented in the magazines and newspapers of the day. He did, after all, beat the S&P 500 by 385 percent during his twelve-year run as CEO. You get the sense from reading about Reichardt that he enjoyed this part of the job.

Here’s an anecdote from a 1989 profile in Fortune magazine:

Once, during a cost-cutting campaign, he required those wanting to spend money on capital improvements to make their cases to him personally. Reichardt, who has a mighty grip and a blunt manner, received supplicants while sitting in a chair with torn upholstery and the stuffing hanging out. Sometimes he would pick at the stuffing while he listened to their pleas.

His commitment is admirable, and his attitude is replicable across a wide range of business objectives. Take this quote from the same Fortune story: “Yeah, I’m tough—on costs. There’s too much bullsh*t waste in banking. Getting rid of it takes tenacity, not brilliance.”

That line is one of the most useful pieces of business advice ever given. There’s rarely a need for innovative, brilliant solutions—99% of the time, tenacity is more than enough.

We Don't Need Brilliance in Content Marketing, Just Tenacity

It’s hard to get content marketing right. Occasionally, a brilliant new content strategy helps a company make it big. But far more often, good strategies are never executed on. A little tenacity goes a long way.

If you want to be proud of your blog…

  • Be ruthless about the content that gets published. There shouldn't be a single article on your site that (1) isn't targeted at a specific reader and (2) worth every minute of that person's time.
  • Budget to pay top dollar for full-time employees, freelancers or an agency. Paying for quality isn't a brilliant idea—it's the only way you're going to get content worth publishing. And you will almost definitely have to advocate hard for that budget.
  • Get technical SEO right. The reason this rarely happens is because it requires working your developers or finding an outside resource. Cross-team collaboration often means going above and beyond to keep projects moving.
  • Don't change your strategy until you've given it a chance. Most blogs fail because some got impatient, not because the strategy isn't a good one. Stick with it.
  • Spend time developing a strategy. A frightening number of software companies are publishing content without a strategy. It's the most expensive way to run a content program.

When you're feeling stuck on content, remember that a stroke of brilliance won't help you—but being tenacious always will.