You didn't need to think too long about your answer did you?
Let's face it, content is just another word for stuff. Information is stuff. It is data, statistics and facts which are sterile, abstract and devoid of personality.
Content makes all of that creative "stuff" you're putting out there sound like a commodity. Nuts and bolts are a commodity. Seen one, seen 'em all. Not a whole lot of differentiation there.
But much of what we now collectively call content is different. At least it started out that way. When did movies, books and music become content? When Martin Scorcese spends two years of his life making a movie, do we really believe he's thinking of it as content? When Bruce Springsteen is in the studio laying down tracks for a new album, is he hearing content in his head? C'mon.
So why should any of us approach how we're communicating, creating and reaching out to establish relationships as simply a commodity play, a/k/a content? OK, not every effort can be a masterpiece of brilliance, insight or inspiration, but it better have more value than a bunch of nails.
So what's a marketer or PR practitioner to do? For starters, like any good marketers, let's spot an opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. The demand to generate content means there's more of it out there, so the chances of it being perceived as a commodity increase exponentially. But that also means your creative efforts have more of a chance to shine if you approach each effort as a do-or-die opportunity to create an immediate bond with your audience.
Content becomes the aggregate of everything that's sitting on your website. But each individual effort remains special. Your stories, ebooks, webinars, podcasts and video interviews become more than just informational commodities. They make it or break it based on relevance, awe, moments of inspiration, challenge, emotional tugs, personality. Anything that will draw like a magnet.
If you need inspiration for how to create magnets, here are a few suggestions. For how to write better copy or create a headline that screams read me, you'll want to check out copyblogger for some great advice on "headline fail." Do you need an incentive package to ramp up your overall creative output? Then be sure to check out Conversation Agent where Valeria Maltoni consistently gives excellent advice on putting more context and meaning into what you put "out there."
And if it's creative spark you're looking for when it comes to telling a better story, you can't do better than listening to Don Hewitt, the man who invented the art of video storytelling with CBS' 60 Minutes. His advice: if you can get someone to say "I didn't know that" you've done your job. You've created more than content. You've created a memorable moment.
So what will you have? A moment or a page of content? A website with a side of personality or a content commodity play? How do you approach it? Do you think about it as content or a series of individual efforts? Is it about generating content or producing something of real value?
There's never been a better time to tell a good business story.