Foreword - The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web (2014)

The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web (2014)


“A few strong instincts and a few plain rules suffice us.” – Ralph Waldo Edison

As toddlers, they keep us safe: don’t touch the stove. Look both ways before you cross the street. Dessert comes after broccoli.

In school, they keep us orderly: Raise your hand. Get to class on time. No running in the hallways.

And the older we get, the more we have to remember: Pay your bills on time. Use your turn signal. Don’t wear white before Memorial Day. Call your mother.

To be honest, I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about rules, at least not when it comes to my work. As Thomas Edison once said, “Hell, there are no rules here—we’re trying to accomplish something!”

And yet, when it comes to content, I think the main problem we face is that we don’t have enough rules. Or, in many cases, any at all.

Why? Is it that, like me, we often find them unnecessarily restrictive—as in, “These shouldn’t apply to me, because I am a unique snowflake?” Is it just too hard to fight the battle, so we stay with the status quo? Or is it simply that we don’t know where to start?

Over the past ten years, I’ve worked with clients of all shapes and sizes, from small startups to Fortune 100 enterprises. But no matter where I go or who I talk to, time and time again, I hear the same woeful complaints:

• “We have too much content.”

• “We don’t have enough content.”

• “Our content is off-brand/inconsistent/out-of-date/inaccurate.”

• “We don’t know where all our content is or where it’s coming from.”

• “Content is being produced in silos.”

• “No one is in charge of the content.”

• “The technology we use/don’t use to manage our content doesn’t work the way we want it to.”

• “We can’t keep up with the [fill in a scary number] digital properties we’ve launched over the past [fill in a scary number] of years.

This, my friend, is what we call chaos.

I’ll tell you what, though. The one that always breaks my heart is when people say:

• “This is all so very embarrassing.”

There is no need to feel embarrassed, dear reader. Visit any website and do a little digging, and you quickly realize that you are not the only one whose content could use some help. And although you may be in caught in a quagmire of content ickiness, it’s important to understand that most likely, you, personally, haven’t done anything wrong. You are a simply working for a company that lacks the infrastructure that supports the ongoing creation, delivery, and governance of content people actually care about.

But, really. Why would we expect your company—any company—to have that in place? That’s what a publisher does. You are not a publisher. You are a service or product provider. That’s where your core competencies lie.

Except, of course, the minute you launched a website … the minute you put up a Facebook page, or started a video channel, or signed up for Twitter … you assumed the mantle of publisher. You’re creating content. You’re curating it. You've started a conversation people expect you to continue for as long as that digital property lives on.

Welcome to your new reality.

Here’s something to consider. The more work I do with organizations, the more convinced I become that there is, in fact, a finite set of content problems to be solved. This implies that, perhaps, there are some common solutions that might be shared among anyone who deals with content. We’ve been sold on a variety of silver bullets—buy this expensive CMS! Let your users create all the content!—but, frankly, nothing has really, truly addressed one of the core problems that exists within organizations: when it comes to content, people often either don’t get it or don’t care.

The Digital Crown will go a long way in changing that. By offering seven hard-and-fast rules for delivering valuable content to your core audiences, Ahava has provided you with an extraordinarily valuable framework to build sustainable, profitable content marketing campaigns. Her seven unbreakable rules are real-world solutions that will help you get on track for both today’s complex content environments and tomorrow’s unpredictable challenges.

Finally, here is something that every marketer needs to understand: when it comes to winning at digital strategy, you are not an exception to the rules. For too long, companies simply have refused to step up and acknowledge that content—far from being a simple byproduct of necessary business activities—is in fact a valuable business asset that deserves our strategic consideration. In order to fully realize its value, it’s critical that we invest our thought, time, and resources to get it right … not just the first time, but every time.

The Digital Crown changes the content game. Follow the seven rules, and you’ll win. Beat that!

Kristina Halvorson

CEO, Brain Traffic

Author, Content Strategy for the Web