One of the more common cliches you hear, especially online, is that Content is King.
In reality it’s only half true.
Great content is extremely helpful, but not sufficient.
What is just as important, if not more important is execution and context.
With any creative and free society, people are bound to imitate each other. This of course leads to the very similar products, but generally different results.
The different results come from two different factors:
1. Execution – You can have two identical screenplays but two completely different movies depending on the director. The same joke, but completely different level of comedy based on how the comedian tells it. Two identical social media start-ups, but one goes on to be worth 100 million and the other doesn’t turn a profit.
2. Context – Sometimes content takes a backseat to context. Create the appropriate context and your content will be more welcome. Once comedians or copywriters have built up a context on Twitter as being funny, their tweets will be viewed within that lens. Anything @BadBanana says will be seen as funny on Twitter. I’ve watched his account grow from 1,000 followers. He worked hard at creating that context, while only occasionally tweeting something that wasn’t funny at first. If he tried to be serious now, it wouldn’t work because he’s built up a strong context of humor in his tweets.
Four comedians telling the same joke:
It’s inevitable that comedians will repeat each other. Watch four comedians below tell the same joke with the same punchline below (put on headphones if at work). I don’t think there is any doubt that Arj Barker delivered that joke far better than the other three. Same joke, different execution.
Carl Perkins originally wrote the song “Blue Suede Shoes” but that didn’t mean he owned the execution of that song. Most people would recognize Elvis alone for singing it. Watching the two videos below it’s clear Elvis could better execute that song. He was just a better overall performer, while Carl Perkins was only a better song writer. Execution is more memorable than content. (Dave Trott has a great explanation of this).
Carl Perkins – Blue Suede Shoes
Elvis performing Blue Suede Shoes:
How this applies to business:
What makes a successful startup? Not necessarily just what you’re selling, but how you’re selling it and how well you can execute on it. When Facebook launched places, a lot of tech writers forecasted the end of Foursquare, but now Foursquare is bigger than ever and Facebook is retreating on location (and Gowalla admitted defeat/changed course). Foursquare was by far the better service.
After writing this I’m left with at least a little optimism. The market to take what someone else is doing (content) innovate upon it and deliver it better (execute) is huge.
The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player.
Apple wasn’t the first company to introduce a smart phone.
Zappos wasn’t the first company to sell shoes online.
Facebook wasn’t the first social network.
Craigslist wasn’t the first classifieds service online.
In a society where copying someone else’s content is easier than ever, execution stands apart.
Connect with me on Twitter: @BenNesvig