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Content Is Too Important to Leave to a Content Department

There’s a saying, usually attributed to Hewlett Packard co-founder David Packard, that marketing is too important to leave to the marketing department. This sentiment has caused many marketing practitioners to lament that people throughout the business now have two jobs – their own and marketing. Sometimes it seems that everyone in the company has an opinion on where the marketing strategy is going astray. Still, there’s value in seeing every employee as a contributor to this business-critical function.

Today, something similar is happening with content. As the creation of content becomes an increasingly important aspect of overall business strategy, the distinction between product and content is blurring. You’ve probably heard people refer to “product as content” and “content as product.” Like marketing, content has become everyone’s job.

On the product-as-content side, products of all kinds are being enhanced with content-driven experiences. For example, hotel brands are using apps and wearables to integrate content experiences into people’s hotel stays. Even a product line as traditional as heavy farming equipment now comes complete with apps that monitor performance and provide insight into usage.

On the content-as-product side, as Carla and I discuss in our book, the process of creating content for marketing purposes is viewed more as a product-development methodology than a traditional campaign-focused approach. Here, we see examples like Kraft’s Food and Family magazine, the ubiquitous Red Bull media house, and Indium’s simple but powerful From One Engineer to Another blog network.

Either way, whether your content spills over into the product or becomes the product, the goal is the same: to create customer experiences that differentiate your brand.

Thus, I’d argue that content as a strategic function may be the most important thing for today’s businesses to get right. For content to serve a strategic function, it can’t be relegated to a small group of people solely charged with enforcing the style guide. As David Packard might have put it, content is too important to leave to a content department. Your content needs to be adaptable, flexible, scalable, enterprise-wide, and worth the considerable investment required to create and manage it all.

Is content a marketing function? Yes. A customer service function? Yes. A sales function? Yes. Who should own it and manage it? I still believe, as I wrote before, that we’re looking at a C-level position and a cross-functional strategy.

Now, just as marketers may lament that marketing has become everyone’s job, content professionals may see a downside to content becoming everyone’s job. This is exactly where we must lead. Content efforts – like those in sales, marketing, customer service, and every other strategic business function – must be led with a common vision, approach, and goal. That’s our new opportunity: to create not just content strategy for the business but also business strategy for the content.

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