The Intelligent Content Conference was this week – an overwhelming success. We had great speakers, amazing attendees (I continually learn so much from this group), and beautiful weather in our host city of San Francisco.
Over and over, I heard about the challenge that many organizations face in transforming the way they treat content as a strategic asset. “Acting like a media company is super-neat-o,” goes the thinking – until, you know, we have to convince people to do it. Then comes the familiar word.
It might be fear of change, fear of failure, or (yes, really) fear of success. The type of fear matters less than the ultimate outcome: inaction. One senior executive told me, “Every time I bring up the idea of centralizing content creation as a strategic function of the business, I get told that we shouldn’t upset the way we’re doing things.”
Quick story. Starbucks had a bad week. They launched their #RaceTogether campaign this week, which encouraged baristas to write the hashtag on cups and to have a conversation about race in the local stores. It was immediately met with a backlash on social media, and it was ridiculed by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight and on marketing blogs all over.
It doesn’t matter what you think of the Starbucks campaign. It doesn’t matter whether its strategy or execution was flawed. They tried something big.
So they failed. Will this “mistake” hurt their business in the long run? Of course not.
As content marketing – including the development of differentiated, content-driven experiences – becomes a larger part of a business’ strategy, brands will have to create content that has a distinct point of view. This means that some brands will attempt to take on tougher, more difficult issues. Sometimes their efforts will be met with derision. Sometimes they will have a point of view that is unpopular, or seems unjustified. Sometimes it may seem superficial, and make people uncomfortable.
But sometimes people will like what they do. Really like it.
For example, Dove has seen both kinds of response to their “real beauty” efforts. They’ve been lauded, and they’ve been called “creepy.” They keep going. The only way they would ultimately lose is if they stopped. The only way Starbucks loses is if they stop. Because that would prove it’s merely a marketing campaign – and not really a distinct point of view in which they really believe.
And this is the key with becoming strategic with content for creating differentiated customer experiences. Every action we take reduces the risk of the next. It’s only through continued inaction that the risk of the first step increases.
And so, after a conference like the one this week, it’s easy to come home and let all those great big ideas that accumulated in our notebooks sit. Unused. It’s easy to convince ourselves that our situation (our inaction) is unique, or unsolvable.
Can we pick one? Take one action?
Even if we fail at it, that one action reduces the fear of the next. And one of those actions just might be the one that changes everything. If not for our company – for us.
This post originally appears on LinkedIn.