We live in a document-based, cut-and-paste world, but it has profound limitations when it comes to effective messaging in the sales and marketing world. What usually happens is that the output of the messaging project, buyer-persona, messaging components and templates are posted in the sales portal to nowhere or in the shared file system. In many cases, they are never seen again, except by a few marketers and the top sales guys who see their value and save them on their local system when the one and only email announcing their existence is sent. But a black swan is now disrupting the way companies create marketing content and how people consume it.
From frustration comes innovation and, from my 10 years of consulting with more than 50 corporations on their marketing, I experimented with ways to create a SaaS product within which I could collaboratively develop messaging with my clients. As soon as I saw WittyParrot, I decided to build it on this platform. The critical idea is to link the messaging development with deployment to end consumers in one end-to-end system. On completion of the project, messaging is made immediately available as a service for salespeople and marketers on their desktop or mobile device of choice. I could maintain the message for the client and remain connected and enhance the value of the messaging.
Last month WittyParrot exhibited at the Intelligent Content Conference in San Jose, billed as an annual gathering of the best and brightest content professionals on the planet.
We spent two days at the conference and spoke in-depth to speakers, analysts and practitioners about their issues and saw a pattern in the problems people were trying to solve. The Internet permanently changed the way people communicate, buy goods and services and consume information. But the vast majority of people create content in fixed documents that might as well be stone tablets. Let’s stay with the stone-tablet metaphor for a moment.
If I want to share some wisdom from a stone tablet, I have to go to where the stone tablets are kept, find the right tablet, find the right section in the tablet, get out a hammer and chisel and copy it onto another tablet, edit the mistakes, put the original tablet back and then carry the copy to the point of use. Today we have copy-paste, but we haven’t come very far from stone-tablet documents used 3,000 years ago.
Intelligent reusable content is the future of content
Content is a key driver of every business. But today, the same information exists in a variation of stone tablets — hundreds of variants in dozens of different repositories. Consumers can’t find this content when they look for it or, if they find it, they have to cut, paste and edit it to use it.
For content to serve the business and deliver a return on the marketing investment, it must be reusable, easily found, relevant, immediately useful and quickly deployed.
For content to be reusable it must be intelligent. By intelligent, I mean it is structured in chunks or components (of any size), and each chunk is self-describing; it has metadata or tags that describe it and comments on how it should be used.
Intelligent content is discoverable and reusable and has the potential to:
- Lower the cost of the marketing-sales content life cycle
- Save marketers and salespeople time and improve responsiveness
- Improve the quality and consistency of messaging
- Improve message quality over time through monitoring its effectiveness
- Enable governance strategies to protect message usage in regulated industries.
A black swan
The market for intelligent content is nascent. There are early practitioners, vendors pioneering XML authoring, Component Content Management Systems (CCMS), and various systems for classifying components, e.g., Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA).
However the XML, DITA world is currently the domain of a small cadre of specialist publishers and technical writers.
Nicholas Taleb coined the phrase “black swan” to describe an innovation that disrupts existing markets and behavior. Intelligent Reusable Content is a “black swan” that is set to disrupt the way people create and consume content.
But for intelligent content reuse to break out and the black swan to take flight, the general publishing, marketing, sales, support and business community must understand the massive competitive advantages in using it.
For this to happen:
- The compelling advantages of content reuse and the use cases must be proven and obvious.
- The complexity of creating reusable content has to be completely hidden from the content creator and the end consumer.
- The source of the content and intermediate steps to tag and share it should be masked from consumers so that content updates are transparent to all users.
- The underlying systems must provide a complete end-to-end life cycle for creating, managing, sharing, ranking, delivering and maintaining the content. This means the content is developed and consumed on the same system.
- The system must be affordable and very easy to use; and the content output should be consumable on any device.
There are a number of innovative vendors working in this space on different aspects of the problem with different tools and approaches.
WittyParrot is a harbinger of the change coming and is interested in working with early adopters and innovators that wish to begin the journey.
Mark Gibson is CEO and founder of Advanced Marketing Concepts (Admarco), a B2B marketing messaging agency founded in the UK in 2004 and now based in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Admarco helps sales and marketing organizations develop better content, better content process and improve content ROI. Engagements include content strategy and frameworks to create content that resonates with buyers to drive inbound leads, and conversation support tools to connect with buyers. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.