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“Content is Still King”, Says Dorian Gray, But…

What do the following big industries have in common?

  •   Broadcast Television
  •   Broadcast Radio
  •   Movies
  •   Newspapers
  •   Recorded Music
  •   Textbooks
  •   Traditional Education and Training

All of the above industries are historically driven by an own-and-control business model and they all follow the old mantra, “Content is King”.  This saying is the basis for businesses whose model is based on the fact that they own and/or distribute particular content and therefore derive profit from the content.

But this closed own-and-control model has been blown wide-open for quite some time with the advent of the Internet and related technologies which allow us to consume the content anywhere at any time, and as frequently as we want. That’s old news, right? So what’s my point?  My point is that too many businesses still don’t see how these external forces shake the very foundation of their business model.  So an amazing amount of businesses and industries still hold onto the old model even as they watch their market-share and profits tank.

How does this continue to happen?  Frequent readers of this blog may not be surprised to read that the way the individual and collective mind works has more than a little to do with it.

Why Businesses Cling to Old Business Models, like “Content is King”

Reason # 1 – Normalcy Bias (I’ve blogged about this before).

Reason # 2 – Company & Culture Self-Definitions (More here and here).

Yet, this blog is about something different. I am of the mind that content is still king, but only in some regards, and only with some deference to access. Intellectual property can still be a marketable commodity, and will be for some time to come. The challenge is that those who want access to that content want something else even more. They want easy and nearly unlimited access. Which brings me to the main point of this blog.

Reason # 3 – Content is King, but Access is Ace
My clients who provide content, products and services know that while today’s consumer may value the quality they uniquely provide, it is not the sole driver of their customer’s buying decisions. These days Content may still be King, but Access is Ace. Even with all the changes the digital world brings to the marketplace, Ace trumps King.

So why do some businesses still cling to old business models that no longer work like they used to? In 25 years of advising clients, there are two truisms that haven’t changed much.

1.     Businesses tend to be more in love with their own product or service than their customers are.  (If you don’t believe me, check out their websites.)

2.     The most important moment in a business transaction is the moment of purchase. Why? Because, until that moment, there is no business transaction.

Today’s instant-gratification marketplace demands that when we buy something, we want to have it right away. And if we can’t get it right away, we just might choose not to buy it at all. Further, once we have it, we want instant access to it as often as we want. In fact, we don’t even care if there’s a small charge just for us to access it again and again.

Most Americans know that access is a huge factor in making a purchase. However, there are still some pretty significant businesses who still can’t organize the way they do business around that simple, proven fact.

Most of them know who they are. I call them the Dorian Gray Companies. They’re the ones who look into the proverbial mirror and still admire the classic and unique features of their legacy and heritage. Then they look at the latest version of their P&L and see an ugly picture of profits and market share that continue to wither and fade with each passing day.

So when you review the industries I named at the beginning of this blog, think about how many Dorian Gray companies you can name in each category.  Hopefully, your company isn’t among them.

By the way, feel free to access this and other blogs for free on my website as often as you’d like.  And please, share it with others by using the share links below.


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