Friday, November 06, 2015

Content is a four letter word

The renowned Dave Trott wrote a piece for CampaignLive that hits on the emptiness of the word "content".
The content is now just something to fill up the space; the delivery systems are what’s important, not the content.
And that’s the massive shift that has happened in our business.
"Content" may only be a word, but it signifies a total shift in emphasis.
Previously, the most important thing was to solve a business problem.
Then to work out what contribution marketing could make to that.
Then have advertising deliver that solution in the most impactful way.
That was the big idea that would change behaviour.
The delivery system facilitated getting the idea in front of the right people.
But the important thing was the idea.
To put it simply: it was idea first, delivery system second.
But by relegating the idea to content, it becomes far less important.
The delivery system must now come before the idea, before the "content".
So changing the word signifies the complete change in the business.
In case I was wrong, I looked up "content" in the dictionary.
"Content (noun): everything that is inside a container; the contents of a box."
So there it is: we’re in the shipping business.

This article from Harvard Business Review calls content "crap".

We never call anything that’s good “content.” Nobody walks out of a movie they loved and says, “Wow! What great content!” Nobody listens to “content” on their way to work in the morning. Do you think anybody ever called Ernest Hemingway a “content creator”? If they did, I bet he would punch ‘em in the nose.

Yet while content — a commodity to be acquired, distributed, and leveraged — remains a fiction in the minds of business planners, digital technology has given marketers enormous opportunities to publish and produce. To take advantage of those opportunities, marketers need to shift their mental models and think more like publishers.

I had interviewed for a Content Strategy position in the last year and it started with the question asking how I defined content. I would say that content is EVERYTHING you put out there as a brand. EVERYTHING. That means paid AND unpaid (or paid, earned, and owned if you'd rather). You can turn things your customers are sharing online into content too.

We are sloppy with our language describing marketing and advertising terms. We are verbose when its not needed to make things obfuscated. And so we end up with words that have little meaning and devalue the things we create. Shame on us.

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