I recently had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion at the Intelligent Content Conference held in Las Vegas earlier this month. Joining me on the panel were several diverse content experts, including Arjé Cahn (CTO and Co-Founder of Hippo), Josh Manton (the CEO and Chief Software Architect at Kanban Solutions), and Greg Marlin (Founder and CEO of Marketing.AI). Serving as moderator was Tim Walters, the Co-Founder and Principal Analyst at Digital Clarity Group.

As a group we discussed intelligent content from various angles, including consumer expectations and consistency, scale and velocity, content development agility, and personalized content experiences. Below I’ve summarized some of the key takeaways from the session.

  1. Moving to an intelligent content framework is a business imperative. That’s because it’s essential to ensure that all your company’s content — no matter where in the organization it comes from — is aligned. If it’s not, but your competitors’ content is, you’re going to be in big trouble.
  1. Content consistency is critical. Customers can interact with a brand in many different ways through various platforms and devices. If your content and messaging aren’t consistent from one touch point to the next, your customers may begin to question your brand’s authority.
  1. Demonstrating that you’re a trusted authority means acting like it. As brands lose control of the conversations that they used to have (typically as a monologue with their customers), they’re increasingly being forced to show that they’re a trusted authority. To do so they need to act the part, which is what’s driving the need for consistency across channels.
  1. Every piece of content is an opportunity to either add or subtract from your brand equity. If your content isn’t working hard for you by accurately and consistently representing your brand voice, it can do more harm than good. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to the quality of your content.
  1. More and more companies are adopting a conversational tone. Rigid, impersonal corporate speak has fallen out of favor. Today’s customers want to be treated like real people. For this to work, companies need to make sure that they’re using a conversational tone in all their customer-facing content — not just the stuff that comes from marketing.
  1. Achieving scale takes more than project management tools and spreadsheets. You need a strategy in place that focuses you on the right themes and messages, and then a structure that aligns with your strategy and incorporates the workflows you need to drive execution. The key is making sure that your structure is as simple as possible, and then iterating upon it until you get it right.
  1. Your content needs to be flexible. Content can come from and get used with many different systems and platforms. That means you need to create your content with various potential uses and ways of storing it in mind. To do this, you need to have the right workflows and processes in place.
  1. Agility isn’t about producing more content. It’s about producing better content in smarter ways. For example, you might use Agile practices and wind up publishing less content. However, thanks to those practices, the content might be more responsive and customer-centric than it would have been otherwise.
  1. You can’t measure content marketing ROI in weeks or months. Remember, content marketing is a marathon and not a sprint. You measure results in years, which means that you’ve got to have a real vision for the long haul.
  1. Content marketing done right is getting everyone in your organization involved. To make that possible, you’ve got to get buy-in by broadly communicating the value of content marketing. When it becomes a company-wide priority, it will be much easier to get everyone on board and aligned.
  1. Personas are the key to personalization. They’re useful ways of grouping people by interests, needs, and desires. Doing so then allows you to think about how to engage those specific groups, what stories you need to tell them, and what language you need to use to get and keep their attention.

I hope these takeaways are useful. It was certainly a very interesting and lively discussion, and one that I was honored to be a part of. If it’s not already on your radar, make sure to keep an eye out for details about next year’s Intelligent Content Conference.