I just popped out to get some lunch from the local Lebanese restaurant – I particularly fancied a hot wrap filled with kofta and halloumi, I had one of these last week and it was very good! The conversation went like this:

Me “Can I have a hot kofta and halloumi wrap please?”

Him “No!”

Me “Pardon?”

Him “No!”

Me “Why not?”

Him “Not available today!”

Me “But I can see the kofta and the halloumi, why can’t I have them together in a wrap, like I had last week”

Him “Not available today, we recommend kofta is served with potatoes!”

Me “Why? You clearly have the ingredients for the wrap I have asked for!”

Him “No! Not available today, it is best with potatoes today!”

Me “????????????”

It went on like this for a while and became increasingly apparent that I wasn’t going to get what I wanted. The person serving me had decided what he thought I would enjoy (or was keen to get rid of the potatoes!) and there was no moving him. I really should have walked out at this point but I was hungry (and British) so I bought a different wrap and decided against any of the extras that I normally buy. As there are a lot of other options for lunch near my office, I doubt I’ll be going back!

What does this have to do with content? -  Everything!

Like options for lunch in a busy city centre, there are a lot of places I can go to access the sort of content I am interested in. I have the luxury of choice and as such, if I can’t find what I want from a website or newsletter, or I feel they have decided what I want without any input from me, I will go elsewhere. If I go elsewhere and find the content I am interested in, it’s very likely that elsewhere will get my business when I decide to buy.

Today’s marketplace for pretty much anything you can think of is overstuffed with providers. So it is vital that you can differentiate yourselves from the herd and be the company that gives your audience what they want without trying to dictate what you think they want. Send a newsletter about engineering to a list of marketers and people will unsubscribe; tweet a link to a beef recipe to a list of vegetarians and you’ll lose followers. Give the people what they want and you will have an engaged and interested audience that will always think of you first when they need to buy what you sell!