Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's the Content, Stupid

During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton's strategist hung a sign on the wall of his candidate's headquarters.

It was meant to constantly remind the campaign workers of their candidate's core message. 

sign read, "It's the economy, stupid."

Most marketers need a similar sign.

Here's a true story.  A few months ago, I contacted the head of a tres chic social media marketing boutique to offer my service.  I described what I do as "content development."  Her reply: "What, exactly, do you mean by 'content development?'"

The reason so many efforts to capitalize on social media marketing are failing is easy to spot.

Sorry all you technologists (and tech-focused marketers), social media marketing is not about the technology.

The cover story in this month's edition of Wired, "The Web is Dead," makes a compelling argument for that.

Content, in the end, is the only thing customers care about, the article claims.  

Because content, not technology, is what's truly "transformative."

Apple's Steve Jobs has proven that.  He enriched himself not by developing technology alone, but by marrying it with content.  His vast fortune derives not from Apple, but from Pixar and iTunes. 

"Jobs is a mogul straight out of the studio system," the article states.  "Since the dawn of the commercial Web, technology has eclipsed content. The new business model is to try to let the content—the product, as it were—eclipse the technology.  Jobs and [Facebook's Mark] Zuckerberg are trying to do this like old-media moguls, fine-tuning all aspects of their product, providing a more designed, directed, and polished experience. The rising breed of exciting Internet services... also pull us back from the Web.  We are returning to a world that already exists—one in which we chase the transformative effects of music and film instead of our brief (relatively speaking) flirtation with the transformative effects of the Web."

The late founder of Sony, Akio Morita, made the same argument 20 years ago, when the Web wasn't yet born. 

After his company lost a costly wager on consumers' willingness to adopt the Betamax video format (they chose the VHS format instead), Morita realized Sony's future lay not in "gadgets," but in content.  So Sony purchased CBS Records Group and Columbia Pictures Entertainment.

It's the content.
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