Review of The Content Trap

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  • Analytical
  • Applicable
  • Eye Opening


Business professor Bharat Anand explains three critical connections – those you encourage among your users, those you find and leverage among your products, and your “functional connections” – the collective choices you make and the priorities you set. Examine the connections you build, your decisions and product “complements.” Good connections, the author notes, differentiate your business and protect you from imitation. His last four chapters chronicling the development of Harvard’s HBX – its online business skills academy – are especially worthwhile reading.

About the Author

Bharat Anand teaches at Harvard Business School. He used the principles in The Content Trap to build HBX, Harvard’s online business school.


Content alone will not make or break your business.

Anand begins with a bedrock thesis of today’s world: producers and owners of TV shows, movies, books, music, videos, social media and newspapers want to protect their investments. They build firewalls, catch “pirates” who download their wares and protect the media on which they deliver content. This drive, Anand believes, sometimes leads people to fall into the “Content Trap”: Artists, producers, authors and editors believe their content sets them apart and makes or breaks their business. Surprisingly, Anand insists that it doesn’t.

Businesses focus on their content while ignoring more important differentiators. They fail to see the business they should be in.

Connections, Anand explains, often prove more valuable than content. The extent to which people can share often matters more than the quality of what they’re sharing. Protecting popular content rather than leveraging it, and ignoring context by blindly following “best practices” can lead to the content trap. “Focus on your relationships with individual customers one by one, or on the content you produce for each of them,” the author writes, “and you’ll miss the secret of success in a connected world.”

More on this topic

The Relationship Economy
Cracking the Leadership Code
How to Listen and How to Be Heard
The Rumble Zone
Words That Change Minds
Strategies for Being Visible

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