Content Is What We Are

My week’s question for ya’ll…

Why is content so important to business?

So, two quick stories.

Story one. A while back I was advising an enterprise B2B client that launched a new – separate – digital content platform that represented a sparkly new brand initiative. (Yes, it was expensive.) Why was it separate, you ask? Why was it not infused into the other content platforms they were already managing, you ask? These are great questions.

The answer is (and is all too common), because the existing content management technology was so hard to use that it was easier to launch something separately. Now, many months later, they’ve got a content Frankenstein on their hands. It takes their staff twice the time to manage everything, and they can’t connect the measurement of any of the new brand experience (which they’ve spent millions of dollars on) to the shopping experience in the classic platform. In short, they made a “strategic” decision that because they had a pencil stuck in their mouth, they should cease speaking full stop and start using hand signals to communicate.

Why not just remove the pencil?

Story two. I was doing an interview last year about my book, and the interviewer asked me the question of why content is so important to the business. I answered with the usual, well-worn answers:

  • It helps people find us in a noisy marketplace.
  • It helps educate our customers and, thus, differentiates our approach.
  • It creates a valuable experience for the customer.
  • It develops shared values that develop brand loyalty.

You can see the classic funnel-shaped thinking coming through each answer. I’d love to say that I stopped midsentence and came up with a better answer. Yes, I’d love to say that I did. But I didn’t.

But after it was done – and I had some time to reflect – it did make me think.

Both of these stories point to why content is perhaps the most important business asset that we fail to manage as well as we could. What each story really defines is that we mostly rationalize the value of content against the priorities of any one function of the business rather than its entirety. In other words, we look at content as a feature of the business, not an ultimate strategic value OF the business.

This is why it can seem so hard to justify.

So why is content so important to business? Here’s the real answer: Content is what we are.

We often wander far and long for a business case for why content should be considered a precious asset to be managed and cared for as intelligently as possible. This is the answer. It is what we are.

Content defines every experience we create for our customers – including our product or service. Thus, it cannot be a neutral part of any one experience. Content either enhances the experience or degrades it.

There’s a wonderful Will Durant quotation (often misattributed to Aristotle): “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” Content created and managed well, repeatedly, defines a business. That’s why it’s so important.

Content is what we are.

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