I was at a conference recently and there was a lot of chat about content.

For me, that word has simultaneously become one of opportunity and one of dismay and I think (other) agencies can often be on the wrong side of the equation.

The agency speaker at this conference was your archetypal creative guy – a beard and a presentation full of Gifs.

He talked through examples of his agency’s work which included nice Vines, a few videos and some animations.

We heard how the ideas came from the ‘content team’ – all of whom are fluent in zeitgeist so the content developed is always ‘on fleek’ – and how it was distributed online.

But that is where he stopped. Job done. There was no reference at all to how much the activity contributed to the client’s commercial objectives.

The omission was further compounded by the fact he was followed by two in-house speakers, also talking about content, both of whom focused on the commercial value to their business.

What was important to the agency looked to be completely at odds with what was important to the client.

I can see why that is often the case. The client wants an idea that delivers a measurable commercial benefit to the business. The agency wants to do the creative, memorable work that will get noticed by peers and media.

In communications, true creativity is delivering both.

Content has become a catch all term that clients and advisors think they need to be doing. But that attitude risks the organisation becoming publishers to entertain.

Unless entertainment is your business, that won’t do much for you commercially on its own.

Multiple agencies from all disciplines are suggesting content ideas to their clients, making it hard for them to see the wood for the trees.

If I was on the other side of the table considering a digital content idea I would want to know the answer to some important questions.

Who is engaging with the content? What data I can feed back to Business Development? What marketing permissions can I get from those audiences?  What does reach and engagement look like per channel so I can apportion promotional spend? What does that equate to as cost per engagement measure?

Only when you have both creativity and commercially useful data can you show the true worth of content-led campaigns.

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