The content path from A to B should be simple. But very quickly content's success as a useful tool for driving sales meant it was dubbed content marketing.
"As con men through the ages have discovered, nothing sells better than a good story," American academic Aswath Damodaran recently wrote in his new book Narrative and Numbers.
The same is true of entertaining, informing and educating. Storytelling is a very effective way of communicating information.
That's why every chance I get I try to remind people that storytelling and content are the cardiovascular system of the digital business and should not be considered the sole province of the marketing department.
Damodaran is Professor of Finance at the Stern School of Business at New York University where he teaches valuation.
He started looking at narrative and numbers when he started looking at why many businesses had higher valuations than their bottom line's warranted. It came down to their story. He points to a lot of unicorns (start ups with billion dollar valuations) in a list of companies whose numbers don't justify their valuation. The valuation is built on the brand's story.
In fact Damodaran believes the amount of information we have available to us now has actually made storytelling more of a factor in our opinions.
"Behavioural economists have established conclusively, our decision making has become even more simplistic and irrational because we have all this data at our disposal," he said.
"As numbers come to dominate so many business discussions, people are trusting them less, not more, and falling back on stories."
Damodaran starts making a case for defining what is good storytelling in business. For one it is factual. Brands that experiment with fake news do so at their peril.
He identifies three possible audiences, customers, investors and employees. I'd add one more from our client experience as a content agency -- stakeholders such as regulators, partners, suppliers and vendors.
In my role as Treasurer at the Asia Content Marketing Association (ACMA) we look at the role standards might play in our industry, much like the IAB does with digital advertising. Helping define how content works across the digital business is a first step.
Over the last few years we've heard a lot about companies being digital-first, mobile-first. For many forward thinking brands this is now a given. Many more are starting down that path.
What we're seeing now is the need for the most forward-thinking brands to be content first - and not just in sales and marketing.
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