There’s a torrent of content aimed at business owners each day, so let me provide a moment of clarity for you. This 16-min video from DLD is the single most important thing you should watch this quarter — if not this entire year. It’s a presentation by Scott Galloway, professor of Marketing and Brand Strategy at the NYU Stern School of Business.
He goes in-depth on the meteoric rise of “The Gang of Four” (Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon), the victims they’ve left in their wake, and the strategies required to play by the New Rules. Simply brilliant — I’ve watched it three times this week.
While the consolidation of media is scary and even a little depressing, there are two big take-aways that you should immediately apply to your own business:
1. The “Four Horsemen” Are Here: Saddle Up!
The first takeaway from Dr. Galloway’s talk, if it’s not incredibly obvious, is that you have to play ball with these entities. If you’re ignoring Google, you’re putting your business at risk. Are you doing content marketing of any type? Are you blogging? Great! I love to hear that. Are you getting the results that you want? If not, you may be falling into an easy trap. Just writing (or producing videos, podcasts, SlideShares, ebooks, white papers, etc.) isn’t good enough. Remember that writing for the Web is different than other writing. You need to know how to structure your content so that will be favored in search. You need to know how to present and deliver it so that Google 1) understands it, and 2) can definitively assign it to your authority rankings.
Same goes for Facebook. Like it or not, your business has to be on Facebook. But do you think that posting updates to a page are going to work? They’re not. While we think of Facebook as a social media platform, it’s really not. Facebook is now a paid advertising platform, and it’s better than television or radio because of its targeting capabilities. That means that you have to pay if you want to get seen. Are you doing that? Do you have a strategy around that?
What Dr. Galloway is talking about here is a massive shift that has the potential and power to destroy any business that doesn’t know — and play by — the New Rules. You can brush this off, but it’s whistling in the dark. Customers have spoken, sometimes tacitly. They don’t want ads, they don’t want interruptions. They want valuable content. The Advertising Age is over.
Radio must have seemed like a miracle at the time. Then television too. Then the Internet. We’re at the very same moment right now, where TV violently stripped radio of its crown. Except that, as Dr. Galloway explains, it’s on a monetary and market scale so immense that it really defies any prior comparison. The Four Horsemen have won. It’s their world, at least for today.
2. They Won’t Be Here Forever: Create Durable Assets
The other thing to brace for is that it won’t last forever. It never does. To continue the TV metaphor, the “Big 3” were dominant for years, and it probably seemed like there was no way to break their stranglehold. Then Fox came along, for better or worse. Now there were four. Sound familiar?
Fast forward to today, and while the Big 3 are arguably still alive and well, the stranglehold is gone. They’re not even the primary players now. Cable offered more choice, though still centralized. But the Web disaggregates. It always does. Now there’s direct-to-consumer model in Netflix, Hulu, and oh yeah, Amazon.
Where’s the lesson in this? What does that mean for you? Good content always wins, because that’s what people want. Whether your business is centered around content (publishing, music, movies, etc.) or is simply using content to sell products or services, you need good content. This is not even arguable anymore.
Again, writing for the Web is different than writing for print. If you expect to produce content of any type and ignore Google’s rules about it, you’re invisible. If you produce music, books, movies, or podcasts and ignore Apple and Amazon, you’re finished before you even start. If you’re advertising in traditional channels without a Facebook strategy, you’re flushing money down the toilet.
Content Strategy is Critical
This is where content strategy comes in to play, and why I’m such a huge evangelist about it. Content strategy is just that — a strategy. It starts with a set of business goals, just like any strategy. Then you design tactics around those goals, measuring and iterating along the way. If you’re doing it right, you see constant growth — not just in revenue, but in trust, relationship-building, and advocacy. It never ends, either. It’s like gardening — you can’t do it all at once.
But if you’ll forgive me for underscoring this point again — if you’ve designed your strategy around yesterday’s players and yesterday’s rules, IT WILL FAIL. The dominant platforms make the rules, and they change them week to week. Are you up on all this? Do you understand how your content needs to be constructed so that it will be searchable and discoverable? Are you building a set of cornerstone content as a business asset?
If you’re not, I urge you to take action immediately. Content marketing used to be a tough sell to the corner office. Now it’s an accepted practice. But there are so many people doing a bad job at, pumping out 20th century “look at me” content chum. While I cringe whenever I see clickbait, listicles, and pop-up ads, I also see an opportunity to rise above.
That’s what you’ll do too. You’ll rise above the noise, create value for your customers before they’re actually your customers, and build your business to be “future-proof.” The only way to do that is to earn trust, little by little, every day. Trust over time becomes advocacy, and advocacy is the only way to move your message node to node over the network. It’s the only path to scalable growth.
Ignore this at your own peril. Your customers are depending on you. Your employees are depending on you. Your shareholders are depending on you. Now’s not the time to wait it out to see what happens. If you’re not taking care of your audience with good content, someone else will.
If you’re completely new to content marketing as a part of a cohesive content strategy, let me help. Here’s a curated list of episodes from my podcast, Marketing Without the Marketing. This will serve as a good introduction to both the philosophy and the methods needed to nurture your online audience — your greatest business asset.
You can listen to them in this playlist:
- Why Content Marketing is Your Only Choice
- The Three Core Elements of Content Marketing
- Content as an Asset
- An Audience is Your Greatest Asset
- Unlocking the Power of Content Marketing
- Running Your Business the Right Way
Or read the short posts that go with each episode:
- Why Content Marketing is Your Only Choice http://bit.ly/mwm-003
- The Three Core Elements of Content Marketing http://bit.ly/mwm-005
- Content Strategy: Content as an Asset http://bit.ly/mwm-010
- An Audience is Your Greatest Asset http://bit.ly/mwm-022
- Unlocking the Power of Content Marketing http://bit.ly/mwm-023
- Running Your Business the Right Way http://bit.ly/mwm-031
See the sidebar on the right or click here for a complete list of episodes.