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Who is king?

A once-great empire left in his wake, Disney CEO Michael Eisner gave a speech to the Hollywood Radio and Television Society  days before his departure from Mickey's throne saying, "content isn't actually king, as the saying goes, but that it's more of a steadfast queen, the true power behind the throne, who loyally serves whatever king currently holds the distribution scepter."

Setting aside his dubious legacy at Walt Disney's magical world, Eisner has a good point: what good is content if no one sees it. Distribution really is king. Long live the king.

Think of it this way: what you're selling is content, how you're found is distribution. And, oh how that is changing...

Maslow's Hierarchy remains unchanged by technology; we still seek to be recognized, have esteem and so on. And since most customers are human, you can be sure technology isn't driving any change in their motivations. Ah, but how they're able to act on those motivation is exciting for you and terrifying for legacy marketing channels.

What Eisner omits from his comments is erosion of corporate dominance in distribution. Technology has created a world of democratic distribution where your customers are shaping their experiences, casting votes with their attention and dollars.

How you get that attention and the dollars that follow comes down to making your message matter and making sure it can be found. After all, great content without solid distribution is the stuff liquidation sales are made of.

Here's a pop-quiz to check your distribution...

1. Does my message matter to the customer?
Stated in their language about that which matters to them, your message is about THEIR needs, not yours. Be careful not to speak advertalk or me-speak; that's about YOU, not THEM.

2. Is my message easy to understand?
Save your cleverness for dinner parties; give it to customers straight and they'll love you for it. You're time-starved and so is your customer.

3. Do I provide a clear path of action?
Make yourself easy to do business with and you'll gain share. People like doing business with people who make it easy to do business.

4. Am I consistent in delivering my message?
Pick a channel and stay with it. Don't do radio today, TV tomorrow and launch an Internet strategy next week. Pick it and stick with it.

5. Do all my messages match?
The difference between running an ad and running a campaign is whether or not every message amplifies and clarifies the one before it. Stay on message.

6. Am I telling my story online?
Make your web an extension of your marketing campaign; tell the same story, use the same words. Make your site credible--and that will mean spending money; you can't afford to fake it.

7. Do I deliver the goods when they come?
Your message must match the tangible consumer experience of your business--whether that happens in person, on the phone or online.

You put great effort into stocking your business. Give the same attention to your distribution because the scepter more than ever rests in the hands of the consumer.

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