Content Play

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I need to find the source for the quote: "reputation is the new PageRank."

I’ve been thinking a lot about the role content is taking on in the world of Marketing and Advertising. For the past three days, I’ve been brain-deep in the CMA – Canadian Marketing AssociationNational Convention and Trade Show. As I mingle, I’m beginning to hear a common theme. It links directly to the thoughts from my Blog posting, Instead Of "What?" Ask "Why?", and then trickles into the idea that most big brands (and agencies) are grappling with the idea of "Content As Media." If you’ve ever seen me present, the idea that content is the new media can be somewhat provocative to some, and a play on the advertorial game to others.

You have to play with content. No choice. I’m not just talking about word. It’s also images, audio and video. There’s pressure for Marketing departments to be all things to all people, but one core competency that most are missing is their ability to create volumes of gorgeous content. They’re not built for this. They are built to either manage the agency process or sift through creative for execution. They may even have the in-house talents to get some micro-sites and e-mail marketing rocking, but when it comes to the time, strength and commitment to consistently deliver fresh and relevant content, it’s a struggle.

It’s understandable and I am not being critical.

That’s where their rub is. It’s hard to get rolling in Social Media and Web 2.0 because it is very counter-culture to most. It’s not a quarterly campaign, and it’s not something you can toss on to a VPs desk and say, "what do you think we should go with, option A or option B?"

We’re asking people who have been cooking with Microwaves to toss them and try a slow roaster (I don’t know anything about cooking, but that’s the best analogy I could think of).

I want companies (agencies and brands) to get excited about content. To have fun thinking about new and engaging ways to connect to Consumers by giving them smart words, cool images, gripping videos and theatre-of-the-mind audio. Granted, I’ve always been a sucker for great content (and in pursuit of trying to create it). I do believe that if Marketers want to get Consumers right down to the final buying decision, content is media… but they have to willing to play the game (and take it seriously).


  1. The reluctance to produce content is strange. It’s not even a reluctance to produce content, but publish content, because if you think about it, companies and their marketing departments produce a ridiculous amount of content everyday.
    From meeting minutes, office memos, progress reports, market analyses, and emails, the material for their publishable content is already there. This is where the foundation of pitches and product descriptions come from. I’m sure that if they selectively copy and pasted, and then copy edited, there’d be more than enough content for a couple press releases and blog posts.

  2. You’re spot-on that marketing departments lack the core competency of quality content generation. Having been in several, I’ve always been the person arguing to staff up [not cut back] on copywriters, content producers, content managers, etc. It’s not something you can outsource.
    So the question for those of us “in the know” is: How do we urge a cultural shift in Marketing? Lead by example?

  3. I Absolutely agree with you, there is a huge lack of content generation, and to ad my 2 cents, I think a main reason for it is not that they lack sources from where to get that content (as CT Moore says, there’s a lot of information running around inside companies), but rather the enormous fear they have to make themselves vulnerable to criticism. Instead of opening up to a real conversation with consumers and receive real first hand feedback, they rather have filters that eases the pain of receiving criticism.
    And how can a company generate honest content if it doesn’t really listen to what consumers have to say about them first?

  4. Content requires creativity, requires the ability to reach inside yourself and find new stuff, or at the very least, new interpretations of existing stuff.
    Most of our time in offices, in marketing meetings, etc. are distractions. Meetings, memos, campaigns, all these processes are systematically designed to suppress creativity, because it’s an industrial model.
    Very little has changed about organizational structure since the time of Carnegie and Rockefeller.
    Creativity was the LAST thing you wanted on an assembly line.
    What we’re facing over and over again are organizational structures designed for the industrial age being applied – badly – to the information age. In the industrial age, the mail room clerk was supposed to sort mail and deliver it – and that’s it (believe me, I know, I was one at AT&T 16 years ago).
    In the information age, the mail room clerk may create the most viral marketing idea ever. If we view our organization from an industrial era perspective, his or her opinion and idea is automatically invalid because they’re a clerk, not the CMO.
    In the information era, we have to be willing to set ego aside and at least examine the idea for merit.
    Content comes from creativity, and creativity has to be built into the organization as a value at the deepest level. Without it, it’s just more memos.

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