Contrary to the claims of a narrow-minded niche group of digital strategists, content is not king. Content is pawn.
The metaphor is intentional — the elements that must come together to build strategies for a digital world are akin to the pieces on a chess board.
The customer is KING. This is the piece you need in order to win. Treasure it. Protect it. Build strategies around it. But don’t be fooled into thinking you can follow the customer into battle — like the chess piece, customers can be frustratingly slow in their movements and need a lot of help.
Software is QUEEN. The most powerful piece on the board. Software holds the strategy together and without it and without understanding code failure is almost guaranteed.
User Experience is BISHOP. The slick, side-sliding piece that elegantly can turn the game in your favour if used correctly. Whether serving a B2C market or a B2B, a great user experience is a requirement.
Data is KNIGHT. Often under appreciated and at times maddeningly difficult to work with, data — like the knight — moves differently than any other piece on the board. A wicked tool in the hands of experts but don’t be fooled into thinking this piece alone can win the game.
The (social) networks are ROOK. The connector that can both defend the customer from attacks and find new ways to drive a strategy forward. The networks— the social and other channels that can amplify the visibility of a product — are the bookends to a any successful strategy and are critical to driving growth and success.
Content is PAWN. With apologies to Taylor Swift, The New York Timesand content marketers everywhere, content is pawn. There is lots of it and it can be used as needed to deliver a strategy. And if one content pawn is sacrificed, there are many others that can be used.
The winners use all the pieces. If Garry Kasparov sat down to play Magnus Carlsen, you can be sure he’d build a strategy that incorporated everything. He wouldn’t waste time trying to make pawns behave like kings or not bothering to move his bishops. The best digital strategists understand the importance of each piece, know how they work together and build and execute their plans accordingly.
And that is the key take-away: There is terrible risk in falsely inflating the role of one piece over the others, the trick it to bring them all together into a singular approach that takes care of the king, your customer.