Dave Trott

Content is not a one word answer

It doesn’t matter what you fill it with, the lorry is the delivery system. The lorry will do the job of delivering whatever ‘content’ you put in the back.

This is a quote from Dave Trott’s article, Content, content, content for Campaign Live. Before you read on, I’d like you to do two things.

  1. Read the article. It really is very good.
  2. If you haven’t already, buy one of Dave Trott’s books. My personal favourite is Predatory Thinking.

Dave is an inspiring creative thinker, a brilliant writer and an excellent story-teller. His stories are full of useful insight made easy to access with interesting and funny metaphors. He’s the teacher the UK needs if we’re going to repair the damage we’ve done to creative thinking.

DAve Trott 2

The article from which that quote is taken is also very well written. To paraphrase, Dave illustrates how marketing has become so obsessed with delivery platforms like Facebook (the delivery lorry) that we’ve forgotten all about the content (the product we’re delivering).

My first reaction was “Hoorah!”. I agree with Dave completely. Many (if not most) commissioners and creators in our industry are obsessed with platforms and “Yes!” they have forgotten why we started making delivery platforms in the first place.

I also happen to think that the metaphor is a particularly good one. It makes business sense and, unlike many metaphors, it’s can scale up into a wider discussion.

That’s where things went wrong for me. When I thought more about the metaphor I saw the mistake. A mistake I’ve presented on. A mistake so common I was surprised (and disappointed) to see it here. It’s the pendulum effect. It goes something like this …

  • Content is King
    <Pendulum>
  • Big Tech: Big Data + Big Tools
    <Pendulum>
  • Content, content, content

Yes, I agree with Dave. Yes, our industry is filling lorries with empty boxes. So, yes, we do need to remember the contents. But not at the expense of the lorry. Without the lorry, we’d have no way to deliver good products. And a warehouse full of undelivered good products is as useless as a lorry full of crap.

AND

If someone invents a lorry that can deliver content twice as fast and twice as accurately as current lorries. If those lorries could tell you where they are, when they’ve arrived and if the product was delivered on time, it would be folly to ignore it and say “who cares, so long as my content is good enough, it doesn’t matter when and where it’s delivered”.

If this were the case all the brands with good products and slow delivery would be succeeding and all the companies with crappy products and efficient delivery would be losing customers. But, look at the current market; who’s doing best? Is it craftsmen like Rolls-Royce and Harris Tweed or is it large-scale convenience retailers like ASDA and Amazon?

WHAT IF

The answer isn’t a simple as an either/or metaphor. What if success, both culturally and financially, comes from any one of a thousand combinations of product and delivery? What if, depending on your audience, you had to tailor your business’ output including product type, product quality, price, convenience, longevity and social worth. What if you also had to consider tracking how well you’re doing at meeting these objectives.

What if there isn’t a simple one word answer to a successful business.

The answer isn’t …

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Social
  • Local
  • Content
  • Mobile
  • Personalisation
  • User Generated Content
  • Community
  • Media
  • New Media (remember that?)
  • GeoCities (remember them?)
  • Google
  • Paid
  • Earned
  • Owned
  • Brand
  • Audience
  • Strategy
  • Agile
  • TV
  • Press

… or any other one word answer. It’s all of these things, none of them or a combination. Stop trying to find one word answers to very complex problems. Admit it’s complex. Maybe then more people would respect what you do.

I leave you with one more thing. A quote from Oscar Wilde*.

“Everything in moderation. Even moderation”

* or Horace Porter or Petronius

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