Thursday, February 20, 2014

Let's dethrone content

If content is king, then it has no clothes on.

And, please, I'm a writer, not a content creator.

Yet so called "content marketing" consumed one-third of all business-to-business marketing spending in 2012, according to, wait for it, the Content Marketing Institute.

This factoid comes from Tom Stewart, chief marketing and knowledge officer of the management consulting firm Booz & Company. He should understand this business, if anyone does. He's a former editor of the Harvard Business Review. And his firm coined the term "thought leader."

Stewart describes content marketing thusly:
Content marketing takes thought leadership and puts it in play—cuts it up, makes ideas “snackable,” puts them “out there” so that someone (i.e., you) will be intrigued enough to want to learn more and, eventually, buy something.
It may be snackable, but it very often isn't nourishing. Stewart:
A lot of what you see is just sales material with understated typography. People surveyed by the Content Marketing Institute said that their biggest problem is producing enough content—nearly two-thirds cite this. The second-biggest problem these marketers face is creating content that “engages.” That sounds like people who don’t let the fact that they have little to say inhibit them from talking a lot.
Ah. There are good movies and bad, good novels and bad. And there is good business writing and bad. There is good TV and bad, but all the cable channels have to run something, so they do. And all the "content marketers" out there have to publish something.

Where is the rubicon? It's somewhere in that Bermuda Triangle of creation where a person who can type becomes a Writer with a capital W. It is the place where, as words are formed, ideas blossom from the ether. If we get away from the terms "content marketing" and "thought leadership" and get back to "thinking" and "writing" we may find it. (And, no, modifying "content" with "quality" only makes it worse.)

Good writing in any realm is a fresh idea expressed in a fresh way.

You know it when you read it.

Long live the king.

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