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The c-word that's OK to say

The original c-word has had its day. That famous term referring to female genitalia has been spoken out loud by a few brave men and by the occasional woman. The thought of it has always been more powerful than the spoken (or written) word itself. And now in times of many gender conversations and delicacies, it may well be on a fast track to dying the death it always deserved.

On a completely different trajectory, another c-word has been slowly but surely growing in power and in importance over the past several decades. C is certainly the letter of choice in the world of marketing and business: ‘customer’ and ‘consumer’ are both vital to thriving businesses, as well as ‘care’, ‘compassion’ and ‘consideration’ for wellbeing and ‘community’ and ‘connectedness’ to link us all up globally.

But the ultimate c-word that glues all of that together, that tells our story, that communicates the messages, that sells the dreams, and ultimately products and services, is ‘content’. You only have to look through the job vacancies to know its popularity – every second marketing job contains the word.

When I got my first private sector job with a well known ‘start up’ as their very first content manager, many people asked if I was in HR, helping people feel at one with themselves and their job.

‘Nope’, I said, ‘I’m telling the company’s story’. End of. And start of, and everything in between.

Without a story, a business is just a brand, and a product or service just fills a need or want. When a customer experiences the story behind what they’re ‘purchasing’ it creates a relationship, fosters an emotional reaction and helps the consumer connect. It justifies their investment. It puts a face to the name. It makes the experience richer, and it makes that organisation, product or service stand out from the rest, making it that much more attractive and desirable.

‘Content’ used to refer simply to words – on your website, in your annual report, in presentations and on printed material. Over time the words have been joined by images, videos, podcasts, reels, stories and so much more that combines sensory touch points. And the channels where content is absorbed have multiplied to include many more mostly digital platforms including social media, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Never has content been so valuable, so in demand, so vital to everyday business and life. And never has the demand for authentic, rich content been so high. Our audiences are disturbingly critical. They know if you copy and pasted from another post, they know if you spent two minutes at 4.48pm pulling it together. Do it well and your audiences will know and appreciate it.

If there’s one thing you invest time and money in for 2022 and beyond, I suggest content. Good, authentic content. Create a content plan that fits your goals and desired outcomes, get dedicated resource (a person) to implement the plan, evaluate what works and do more, and don’t stop – lock it in and carry on. And if you don’t have the capacity or skills to do it inhouse, then talk to someone who does.

Want to know more or to pick my brain about that all-important c-word or any other words that are more than ok to say? I'd love to and am up for a decaf long black anytime – in person or online.


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