Usefulness Takes the Throne: How "Content is King" is Growing Up

Posted by Kate Jurras on Mon, Sep 17, 2012

Harvey Simmons HeadShot resized 600This post is part of the September blog series. With FutureM coming in October (do you have your pass yet?!), we're thinking a lot about marketers and consumers, and this series reflects that. We asked our writers to answer this question: "what is it going to take for marketers to catch up to consumers?" We'll be sharing several posts each week of the month. Stay tuned for diverse viewpoints and creative answers to this question. This post is by Harvey Simmons. Harvey is Dean of Marketing Affairs atEverTrue, a TechStars and MassChallenge startup that is dedicated to providing school fundraisers better data by connecting traditional alumni CRMS to the social graph. Harvey is a proud  Boston College Alum, and is wild about running, college basketball and everything mobile. You can reach Harvey at @HOSimmons4 or at harvey at 

"Content is King" is every day more cliché. The popular saying seems to take real estate in nearly every presentation on digital marketing. Just as marketers witnessed Web 1.0, 2.0 and are currently experiencing 3.0 with the advent of mobile, it is helpful for marketers to consider where the theory behind the popular saying may be evolving too.

Buyers today are much more than victims to the once-almighty ad dollar; we are no longer gatherers, but instead we are hunters. We have tools like Yelp to help us find the best coffee shop in town and Amazon to help us decide what are the best headphones are for our next run. When we want to make a purchase we either have the tools to make us better at it or are looking for them. Although marketers cannot control all of these conversations, they can contribute by providing their own tools that extend beyond their content of thought leadership.

Take local Boston start-up HelpScout for example. They offer customer service software. Trying to decide what type of help desk is right for you? Download their buyers guide. Not only is this content interesting, but the guide itself is a useful tool in the consumer's purchasing decision. This usefulness does not always have to take the form of "content" either, it can be a free tool like WordStream's keyword tool. Consumer markets need these tools as well -- would not it be awesome if a brewery told you what the waiting lines were for pubs in the City through a mobile app? I would buy their beer in a second.

Of course, giving the customer something useful instead of just selling them a product is not a new concept either, but with the explosion in mobile there are increasingly opportunities for more tools to be released. Being useful tends to spread much more authentically by word of mouth, and while it might not get you a million views on a YouTube it could be your next big key to more business and catching up to the consumer.