Burgess Management


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Content Development is the new verbiage penetrating every industry.  Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corporation, believes that content development encompasses more than just words and pictures.  Content is not just a means by which companies communicate their messages to customers and stockholders.  Content has become a pseudonym for all forms of media used for communication purposes, including everything from the hard copy to the electronic page.

While most companies still deliver most of their content in the traditional format of the printed page, times are rapidly changing! Combine the concept of niche marketing (communicating with small numbers of similar buyers), with electronically creating and distributing content, and it is easy to see that a fundamental shift is taking place in communications development.

Additional media that are rapidly becoming the communication norm include video animation and sound. Advances in today’s electronic world are opening up new avenues in the area of content development.  However, the dynamics of content creation, in terms of long-term usage, have only been analyzed by a few.  The implications of rapidly changing communication methods, from standard approaches to electronic distribution, are just beginning to be fully understood. 

Many trends support the rapidly growing movement to coordinate content development.  One such trend is the level of consumer expectations, which are higher than ever before.  Consumers are demanding immediate access to as well as requiring more information than ever before. Consumers believe they deserve to be entertained and informed—any time and in anyway that their circumstances require.

Indeed, today’s consumers (led forward by the Baby Boomer generation) are information junkies. These independent thinkers, do not like salespeople telling them what to buy (especially when they believe that the salespeople don’t know as much as they do).  They are the most educated cohort in the world, distrusting the status quo, as well as the “system” that created it.  Boomers are more successfully sold on ideas when they are completely informed; they must feel that they are in control of their decisions.

In the Fifties, Disney set the standard for the entertainment experience with Disneyland.  Since then, movie and video game industries have set a high standard for their products: videos and interactive entertainment.  As a result, children of the Boomers (20 to 35 year olds), otherwise known as

Generation X, grew up expecting much more than what the written page can produce.  As a result, those fifty years old and younger, (computer and video game generations) are naturally drawn to the high-tech stimulus of multi-media-words, movement, and audio.  In other words, the development of today’s high standards in communications is directly related to the expectations of the Boomer and X Generations.

The common denominator of both Boomers and Generation X groups is immediate gratification.  They want to have information and see action taken without delay.  McDonalds set the standards for “instant.”  Today’s double breadwinner and single parent households hold time at a premium.  To keep up the pace, needs must be met, information processed, and decisions made in record time.

Enter Technology

Today’s technology allows consumer needs and wants to be fulfilled.  How-ever, it will be years before companies fully realize how the trend of immediacy is a dominant factor in today’s market.  The lack of current awareness is partially due to being uninformed, as well as to budgetary and organizational limitations. 

Developing content in an orderly manner provides a means to meet consumers’ needs in an efficient and cost effective way. Organizing a company’s content needs is strategic marketing.  Clearly developed content provides a way to economically use available media.

The term content was coined because it represents much more than just the written word. Content represents the base knowledge, as well as the presentation.  It includes facts, figures, visually stimulating video, animation and sound.  While text remains important, new mediums are increasingly providing more complete ways of expressing messages than simply printing words on paper.

Content is a combination of all media, visual, text, sound, video and animation, numbers and graphs. . . . Content is key to the future of economical communication.

For example, while most have never read the description of the Hindenburg airship fire,  this exploding inferno of hydrogen is etched on our visual mind’s eye.  Kennedy’s statement, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” is vividly etched as a sound, not the words you have just read.  Content is a combination of all media forms: visual, text, sound, video and animation, numbers and graphs. Content development is now economical for many companies.  However, while most companies are gradually adding new methods of communicating their traditional message, complete implementation is far from complete.

There is a way in which content development can be strategically developed, ensuring that the transition from traditional publications to electronic distribution is economical. This can be done by carefully constructing information with the intent to reuse the content in a variety of ways. 

When writing a brochure or letter, most companies start from scratch, rather than building on carefully constructed blocks of information.  This approach can be likened to “re-inventing the wheel”; it is a very costly and time consuming method.  The strategic approach is a more economical way to expedite communication needs.  By carefully developing a method by which content development can be used to its maximum potential, the transition into the innovative world of multi-media becomes economically viable.

In many companies,  writing the basic copy for a corporate brochure or new product description can take weeks, and over a dozen revisions before all parties have fully examined and approved the text.  While this may not be necessary for some companies, it is the reality for most.  Add charts, and other graphic elements, and job production can stretch into months.  The time spent on future projects can be shortened by organizing the final contentinto a form that can be used in another form, extending the life of completed content.

This can be accomplished through planning and new database publishing software.  Distribution of materialscan be organized and rapidly processed through the Internet.  (In fact, the term “content” may largely be a result of the Internet itself and the need to describe a new way to organize data, words, pictures, videos, animation, and working drawings.)

Content development is the means to the future in providing economical, electronic communication.  It is the key to a strong future when it comes to building a communications system capable of serving your customers’ information, entertainment, and immediate access needs.

Ron Burgess