#BrandTalkWithLamide: Much Ado About The Real King; Content Or Customer?
For long now, the conversation has been ongoing about who really should be crowned king of the dynamic sphere of marketing communications; content or customer. Scholars have argued severally, for and against the superiority of both concepts with numerous case points to analyse, dissect and emphasizes their positions. For many, the kingship of content need not be questioned as it is unarguably the core of marketing. Their argument largely hinges on the fact that before there can be a customer, there must be content, which can be anything at all, so long it satisfies customer’s desires. After all, every customer is out for something.
What really is content and why is it a worthy candidate for ‘kingship’?
An attempt at a definition based on Google’s many options would mean that content is anything that is created, distributed, valuable, relevant and with a capacity to attract and retain a clearly defined audience to take certain actions that may be considered profitable. This definition points out a whole lot of things, its relevance even but not in any way, its rulership. Something did.
The Bill Gates Effect
Safe to say that the hot-air balloon upon which Content now rides and pose as King, was inflated by the Microsoft Boss in his 1996 article where he expounded on the future of content, describing it as the gold dust, there would be, in the internet age. He continued, forecasting intense competition from several industries from entertainment to sports, advertising and several others in their bid to, although he didn’t explicitly state, get the customer’s attention. Mr. Gates, while also encouraging writers to adopt quickly, the internet age, warned ‘if people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will’.
The entirety of the article calls attention to only one thing and that is the need to create, modify, and do all there needs to, to ensure that the growth of the internet which had just been bolstered by the Tim Berners-Lee1990 invention of World Wide Web, is sustained. When critically considered, his position is very understandable, seeing that his own invention, the Microsoft, was going to get wider acceptance. What is more important to note, however, is that not a single line in his famous article implied that content was the be-all, as is now being reported. Instead, Gate’s constant repetition of people could only have meant one thing that people, who in this case can safely be assumed to be customers, are the ones for whom content is made.
But is content not King?
Let’s assume Gates’ intent was misunderstood and attempt to look at content from a totally different angle, strictly as what is being sold to customers. But then, the relevance of this viewpoint was over 100 hundred years ago, in the early 90s during the production and product market orientation where customers were practically dictated to. ‘Content’ was produced based on what the producers thought was best and customers had to adjust their expectations to fit was what available. This era may have seen the kingship of content but once the marketing orientation started, a new reign began. Truth is, content no doubt, wields a lot of power and as Steve Olenski in his Forbes article aptly puts it, in all its various forms, it is the definition of the word king “something preeminent in its class.” The only but is that this sort of King if we agree to call it that, bends to the whims of customers, which automatically nullifies its authority.
Who Then Is King?
The top two responses one is likely to get after asking Google who a customer is, is to succinctly put, two major worldviews about marketing. The first defines a customer as ‘a person who buys goods or services from a shop or business’ and the other, ‘a person of a specified kind with whom one has to deal with’. From both definitions, it is safe to agree that a customer is an individual whose existence affects the course of certain things and actions. The depth of the second definition drives home a vital point; the individuality of a customer and shares insight as to how customers should be treated because of the vital role it plays in the grand scheme of things.
The many definitions of marketing have also, always stated clearly the relevance of customers in the scheme of things. According to American Marketing Association, it is an activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society. Philip Kotler, the father of modern-day Marketing while defining, stated clearly the need to satisfy the needs of a target market, which in fact, is the customer. Needless to say then who the one true King is.
Olamide Jasanya, a Marketing Communications practitioner based in Lagos can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org