What is the most important thing in marketing?
We often talk about the most important C in marketing because Bill Gates said “content is king” most people don’t know that quote came from an essay he wrote in 1996 and he declared that “content is king”. I can totally understand why in 1996 content was king because the internet wasn’t yet awash with billions of pieces of content that we now have to wade through all the time.
In fact slightly before that, I was doing a master’s dissertation and I discovered that the future of publishing, which is all about content, was going to be totally about search and find. That’s kind of borne out over the last two decades.
Search has dominated for a very logical reason because as more and more content was produced, we needed smarter and faster ways of getting to the most relevant content.
After content was king, I think for a brief while we noticed that context was king, and context is the key when you’ve got an absolute sea of content, context becomes everything doesn’t it?
In a world full of content, what you need is the context, the relevance, the location, where is the content, in what format, how can I get it, is it free, is it paid for, who’s written it, what format is it in, what format can I consume it in.
The recent explosion of video means that video is really valuable, but video without captions is 80% less valuable, because 80% of people watch the video with the sound off.
So context has become almost a layer above content, and we’ve seen more than just context being king, we’ve seen more than just content being king, we’ve seen authority being king;
Who is the most reputable authoritative voice to talk about a topic?
Who should we be paying attention to?
In an ocean of content, what voices do we need to pay attention to and listen to? Who has the right authority to be able to tell us what matters? Who is editing the world for us, so that we can better understand and better appreciate who to listen to? And the reality is that even beyond authority, there is more.
Recently Gary Vee told the world that the most important word in marketing is care. Gary Vee brilliantly said, I’ve never heard it put so simply, that the most important marketing strategy you can have, the best marketing strategy for your business is just to care.
Care about your customers.
Care about your team.
Care about your business.
Care about your brand.
Care about the ethics of what you supply, the service, the product.
Care about the reality that your clients and customers and users and prospects face.
Care, care, care.
You can’t care enough.
You can monetize care, which is brilliant but it’s not enough for us. For us, there is a new C that’s King. We’ve seen it for a while, I’ve been tracking this probably for about ten years, I felt it viscerally at first it became obvious to me, it’s what we craved, it’s what we wanted, it’s what everyone in the business sought after and asked after. I think the first time it was verbalized to me, was in the context of a client telling us that we just understood buzz. We understood how to put a business into the middle of its marketplace, into the middle of its conversation.
So for us the most important C in marketing, the most important strategy in marketing, most important metric in marketing, everything points at conversation.
Conversation is the king.
Ultimately that’s what we all want, we want relevant and timely discussions to take place, we want our market to talk to us.
In 1999 the Cluetrain manifesto, which I absolutely still love to this day, and 20 years down the line those luminaries who created it are just absolutely bang on about what they said. It’s an amazing piece of work; 95 theses about how the Internet was gonna change in 1999, was gonna change the way the world does business and the way the world interacts.
The first thesis was markets are conversations. Markets are conversations. Meditate on that, your market is a conversation. You’re either in that conversation or you’re out that conversation.
You’re either in the middle of that conversation or you’re at the back of that conversation in a cul-de-sac somewhere, you’re either in the Piccadilly Circus, downtown, Times Square of that conversation or you are in the suburbs, chilling out and relaxing and no one’s coming to visit, no one’s having a conversation with you.
Ultimately for us that’s what it’s about, our objective is to create conversations for our clients, to create strategies and brands and all the elements that go around everything that needs to happen, so that we can create conversations for our clients.
That’s what we crave for ourselves and that’s what you need to be craving for you and your business. I say for you and your business because you’ve got personal brand and you’ve got a corporate brand, you’ve got a business and you’ve got you, and ultimately being in the middle of the conversations around you and your business are what fuels us as human beings, since the beginning of humanity really we’ve congregated and gathered together, we are social animals and we’ve done that so that we can converse, so that we can swap stories, so that we can survive longer and live better and it’s still true today.
The only difference is today, is we don’t congregate around a watering hole so much (maybe a water cooler) and we don’t congregate around a fireplace so much (there are other examples of fireplaces today). Twitter’s a fireplace, Facebook is a watering hole.
Focus on the conversations;
Where are the conversations in your market?
Who’s having them?
Who’s influential in that conversation?
Who should you be getting next to, near to?
Who should you be listening to and paying attention to?
Who should you be serving and giving to in those conversations?
Thrust yourself into the middle of your conversation and you absolutely cannot go wrong, because ultimately everybody wants to be near the king.