The Crowning of Content

By Jenn Alessi


I attended a conference a few weeks ago, one of those events where the industry’s best and brightest convene to share the latest happenings and trends. A presenter and impressive orator shared a slide that read Content is King. I have to believe it was a “feel good” moment for those assembled before her. Content = the most venerable of royal ranks. We’re in the content business. Therefore, we’re in a rarefied daily pursuit. Pretty cool.

When I revisited this idea days later, however, it felt too abstract, akin to claiming diet is king to a bunch of nutritionists. Sure, such a claim can be compellingly argued, but it lacks the nuance to, under scrutiny, come across as much more than a rallying soundbite.

If importance on this order of magnitude is going to be conferred upon content—and I, like my peers, believe it is just—we need to be more diligent in contextualizing the message. Yes, content is king, but what makes it so? I’ll cast my vote for an unwavering commitment to deploy it thoughtfully. It can’t just be content for content’s sake.

On a handful of occasions, those I’ve broached on this marketing discipline have offered some approximation of “everyone else is doing it” as the cornerstone of their reasoning. As much as I’d like to transact business on such a simple premise, I invariably say, “Why? What’s the real reason? What do you stand to gain?”

It’s at this point in the discussion that “Content is King” can live up to its billing—because its abundant value is finally being illuminated through rigorous back-and-forth discussion to unearth such important planning planks as target audience, what they consume, how they like to receive it, what customer journeys it leads to, their duration, an so on. Before long, a plan emerges with metrics for its efficacy. Content produced simply for the sake of being in vogue becomes a distant memory, replaced by a solid strategy.

I raise this issue out of concern: the more we operate in a herd mentality, the more likely it is we’ll dilute the very thing we’re heralding—content. Each marketer is different, with a distinct voice and a unique manner in which to optimize it.

On this basis, launching a content initiative because it’s all the rage is untenable. It’s when you make it a well-choreographed rage within your company that it can legitimately be crowned… as king.