Talking Content Marketing returns and welcomes Andrew Bredenkamp. Founder and CEO of Acrolinx.
Andrew has been in the global content business for over 25 years. He founded Acrolinx as a spin-off from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) to bring some unique linguistic technology to market. The Acrolinx engine brings powerful linguistic insights to large-scale enterprise content, but, uniquely, are able to analyze content as it gets created to check whether it is on-brand – is consistent with brand personality and message, and on-target – using the right language to engage a target audience.
Our conversation looks at why the content we create has to have the right tone of voice and the reward that is available when committing to a content driven approach.
Is it easy to lose focus on a content strategy and just resort to tactics ie. lets keep on blogging, which social site are we going with this month?
“Content Strategy” is a big term. Too often, for my liking, it is used to replace the more prosaic sounding “content creation”, or “writing”. But the people who are excelling at “content strategy” are those who take the “strategy” part seriously – thinking about how they are writing for and how best to find resonance with that audience.
An important first step in this is to write these things down, too many companies rely on gut instinct, or just knowing when something is right. But when you have a whole company communicating with your customers, and agencies and freelancers as well, it gets very hard to “speak with one voice” without having stated very clearly who you are and what you have to say.
Is finding our tone of voice one of the biggest challenges to maintain a consistent and trusted brand?
As part of getting closer to their customers, and sounding less corporate, many companies are thinking hard about their tone of voice. Often it goes under the banner of trying to lighten up a bit.
Tone of voice is definitely important in projecting your personality as an organization, and companies like Microsoft have invested a lot of effort in changing from how they spoke to their customers in Windows XP, compared to how they speak to them now in Windows Phones or Surface. But this is often a difficult process: people tend to think that showing off the complexity of their products will earn them respect, or that they might not be taken seriously if they sound too conversation. Experience of Microsoft and others have shown these fears to be unfounded, but nevertheless they are often used as excuses for those afraid of change.
What is the biggest opportunity businesses have when committing to a content driven approach?
Content is in most cases all you have!
It’s not about whether we need to be content-driven or not; the internet changed everything. Most products (with the possible exception of fashion, but even that is changing quickly) are sold without the customer actually touching the product – they only experience it through content.
So being content-driven is not an option, it’s an imperative. Being good at content will make you successful, and being bad at content will almost always cause you to fail, or at least will prevent you from realizing your potential.
Do you see it as a role for businesses to not only inform but entertain?
As a brand, you need to get attention. Imagine you are at a party, and are sitting around with one person who just won’t stop talking, and he’s just talking about himself. You’ll move on, right? You’ll move to another room, and look for someone who’s funny, and is interested in what you have to say. Being a company is no different.
The interesting companies with something interesting to say and an engaging, perhaps funny (where appropriate), way of saying, the companies who listen – they will be popular ones.
How do you learn? What inspires you?
Very simple: I learn by listening.
I have a great job which allows me to talk to content people at most of the smartest brands on the planet. Listening to them carefully and bringing together their experiences gives you insights you can never get on your own. What gets me out of bed in the morning is finding ways in which technology can help people. I love gadgets, and our technology is like a huge content-driven swiss army knife. There are so many cool new things we can do with our technology to help people be more successful with their content – it’s just great fun!
Your Content Marketing World appearance is a few months away, can you share the topic you’ll be discussing?
I’ll be talking together with Steve Wright, VP of Customer Experience at IBM, about how creating great content at a massive scale can be done.
I am regularly struck by how little Acrolinx faces many of the same challenges as IBM, and how being strategic and agile can make you successful at any size.
Many thanks for Andrew for offering the way that he sees the world. To find out more from Andrew’s side:
Andrew on Twitter: Click here
The Acrolinx blog: Click here