February 22, 2018

The Managerial Class Sucks At Content And This Is Your Opportunity

The Content Advantage

Something happens for you when you truly get content - a transformation, an opportunity, an advantage that is hard for others to compete with. I call this the content advantage and I want to show you how it works.

 Let’s say it's 1930 and people are talking about a new way to advertise. It’s called radio.

Most businesses, the vast majority, ignore the new medium. They’re blind to the opportunity and choose to stick to conventional ways.

It doesn't take long before they get sidelined.

Others play around with radio. They make a half-effort, but never really get it or make much of it.

Which is to say they compete with one arm tied behind their backs.

The Visionaries

But then there is the rare few who actually see the potential of radio.

And these guys go at it like crazy.

People like Procter and Gamble. They go wild on the radio - experimenting, innovating. and inventing things like the soap opera along the way.

And not by accident, they also build a gigantic business and change the culture while they’re at it.

P&G were one of the tiny minority who saw the light.

And this little piece of history tells us a great deal about our situation today.

History Repeats

Because we’re at that kind of juncture right now.

This time, of course, it's not about paid media or rented audiences. This time it’s about owned media - your media, your audiences, your chance to interact with people who are interested enough in your story to subscribe to your content. Lots of those people, if you do it right.

We’re talking about video, audio, text and all the the limitless creative potential for every kind of content, from drama to pure information, that you could dream up.

But we're talking, too about doing all this in collaboration with your own audience, people who opt-in to receive the content.

This Is Big

The new communications tools - the hardware, the software, the platforms, and the channels offer us a scope that dwarfs what radio offered to P&G.

And just as it was back then (millions of Americans bought radios for the first time in the 1930s) we live in a culture that’s obsessive about finding new content.

So, history repeats itself.

In more ways than one.

Because we see the patterns repeated.

Look at the performance in content amongst the vast majority of businesses out there. What do you see?

I would argue that you see limpness,  nonchalance, an apathy towards the new potential that looks almost suicidal.

Because here's my take: Any organisation that is not on the case - and by that I mean going wild on content, doing a P&G on its ass - is, at best, losing out.

We're NOT All Media Companies Now

The cry went up a few years ago that we were all media companies now.

But in the vast majority of cases it wasn’t true: A bland blog and a hammy Facebook page do not a media company make.

It’s one thing to manage the channels but another thing to create actual meaning in those channels.

Over and again I run into this problem within organizations.

So, I think we have to face the reality that the managerial class doesn't get content.

Managers Suck At Content

Most marketing mangers are strong on the tasks of content, but weak on the creativity.

In fact, I would argue that the managerial class sucks at content, that it understands neither the media nor the creative requirements of great content.

Nor does it recognize the potential for influence that meaningful, innovative, human-friendly content can unleash.

So we end up with so much vapid, predictable, low impact content. Content that was done on-time and on-budget but lacks any creative spark, and makes no human connection. Content that, in the end, doesn't achieve very much. 

The cost comes in bypassing the true potential of the content to create their own media, build their own channels, own their own audiences… and devastate the slackers.

I can't count the times I've seen content pushed down to the lowest levels of priority, fobbed off onto the people who aren't otherwise busy.

And it shows.

Most of what passes for corporate content is that bad.

Why This Is Excellent News

Which takes me to the good news. And it's good news for you, now today.

Because this is what I call the content advantage. It happens when you understand and mobilize content effectively... and your competitors do not.

This is the reality for most of you: Your competitors are almost certainly clueless in content.

They may know the tools and the platforms. But very few really understand the stuff you put onto the platforms and into the channels: They’re clueless about creating the kind of meaningful content that will move people to act and serve the true needs of the business.

Your Opportunity

By racing ahead now with a serious commitment to content you create an opportunity that is akin to P&G’s in the old days.

You have the opportunity to start acting like a media company. And to create the kind of content that has power, energy, emotional impact, and most of all, influence.

Because by so doing you open up a kind of extreme competitive advantage - simply by creating content that is meaningful, substantive, relevant to that audience.

So, just try these advantages, for starters:

  1. You outperform your competitors on almost every traditional marketing practice - whether its differentiation, positioning, market research, or anything else - strong content can ramp up your efforts.
  2. You get to do new and potent marketing activities - like audience building, list-building, conversation and engagement.
  3. You get to shape the narrative of your competitive landscape and rewrite the rules of the game. (As your competitors are left out of the game.) You get to disrupt the old order by being the content cat amongst the traditional pigeons.
  4. You get the attention, the visibility, the traffic, the responses, the incoming links, and the results of impactful content.
  5. You connect, influence, and take relationship-marketing to new heights.
  6. You earn outreach, shares, PR, Google rankings.
  7. You exploit the tools for what they were made for - communicating

I could go on, but I hope the idea is clear: The opportunity exist for you to do meaning and grab the content advantage. It will require a commitment to understanding not just the social media channels, but the stuff we put into those channels - meaningful, content. 

In the meantime, you can be pretty sure that your competitors are still obsessing the tools.


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  1. Steve says:

    Speaking as someone with a strong managerial streak, this is so true!

  2. Ken Carroll says:

    Hey Steve,

    I know you to be an excellent communicator and a very creative problem solver.


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