Intelligent Content: How to Get Started

ICC get startedby Marcia Riefer Johnston

“I love the idea in theory, but I still don’t know how to put it into practice.”

If you listen even briefly to what people are saying about intelligent content, online and off, you’ll hear lots of variations on that comment (which was posted March 4, 2015, by Erica Holthausen, J.D., on the LinkedIn Content Strategy group’s discussion entitled What is your experience with intelligent content?). Many people want to know this very thing: How do we get started?

The folks speaking at this year’s Intelligent Content Conference (ICC) have stepped up to share their suggestions. Read on to see how some of them answer this question …

What’s the most important advice you would give people getting started with intelligent content in any size organization?


Noz Urbina

Noz Urbina photo_revLots of people are giving good advice on intelligent content. So I’ll concentrate not on the basics, but on the things that I find (with due respect to my peers, of course) get left out of the conversation too often.

First, think about intelligent content not as a technology but as the formalization of your content’s natural essence. Seriously. All of your content already has structure, labels, and all that good stuff because we naturally think about content types, taxonomies, and models, we just don’t call them that. We know what a brochure is and what goes in it, and we know about grouping documents by audience, by relevant products, or by life cycle stages, but all this is rather informal or in our minds.

Making your old content intelligent is about finding those consistent structures and category labels that resonate with the largest numbers of your audience members and content creators, then modeling them into a consistent contract agreed amongst the people and systems that need to work with content. This contract states explicitly, instead of implicitly, your editorial and business rules, like which components make up each of your content types, which are optional, or how many. It should also take into account future needs for delivery and transformation of content.

Once you’ve defined your content formally, you’ve got to implement a way for a computer to validate that everyone is working off your new model. Don’t overengineer. Build models that make sense for users, are feasible and maintainable, and have clear business benefits for the future.

Don’t try to do everything, and definitely don’t try to do everything all at once. Chop the problem up and it’ll be easier to address.

Noz Urbina, Content Strategist and Founder, Urbina Consulting | @nozurbina

Noz’s ICC presentation is The Non-Terrifying Intro to Semantic Content March 24. He also gives a full-day preconference workshop, Writing Adaptive, Reusable Content, March 23.


James Turcotte

Jim Turcotte photo_revDo you deposit checks with mobile banking? Arrange rides with Uber? Use Nest to automatically regulate the temperature of your house? Stream your favorite show through Netflix? To succeed in this new world, delivering superior experiences that engage your customers is critical to success. And it’s all done with software.

We live in the application economy, a place in which everything is driven by a connected, application-based world where customers experience and interact with your brand through a software application rather than a live person.

To survive and thrive in the application economy, companies are turning to high-velocity development practices such as DevOps that leverage automation, continuous testing, and increased collaboration. Yet, despite the focus and continued strides forward in software development, the content supply chain lags far behind or is totally ignored.

Your organization falls into this category if the bulk of your technical content is written by a siloed team of traditional writers. Do you publish PDF/HTML files at the time of general availability? Do your support teams write hundreds of knowledge articles that are posted after general availability to address documentation “bugs”? If your technical content is not helping to generate leads, then your enterprise is not yet ready for the application economy.

DocOps (the content cousin of DevOps) is about creating a content supply chain that is, at its core, collaborative, agile, and continuous. With DocOps, technical writers curate content from a variety of authors collaborating across the enterprise (and even external customers). Content is continuously updated throughout the life cycle of the product based on customer feedback and sophisticated analytical tools including Google Analytics and even machine learning. Both the content updates and translation occur in a near real-time fashion due to the agility of the platform.

And, as if delivering best of breed intelligent content were not enough, DocOps also aids in the sales cycle of the product by helping to attract and identify lead prospects.

Creating intelligent content in the application economy has just taken on a whole new meaning with DocOps.

James Turcotte, Senior Vice President, CA Technologies | @jim_turcotte

At ICC, James is participating in a panel discussion, How to Increase Content Velocity Through Agile Practices, March 25. He’ll be joined by fellow panelists Andrew Bredenkamp , Laurel Counts, and Margo Stern.


Val Swisher

Val Swisher photoStart with the business case. Understand why you are moving to intelligent content. It’s not for everyone; just because other people are doing it doesn’t mean you should. Have a clear understanding of the goals you need to achieve to succeed.

Then, move on to the content life cycle. Be sure you understand how content is created and moved through the life cycle today. What is the workflow? What works? What doesn’t?

Evaluate the content itself. Are there opportunities for reuse? How will you go about modeling the content? What are the exceptions and what are the norms?

Only then would I consider tools. Far too often (really, really too often) I find that companies choose a tool without evaluating the content and the workflow. Often, this results in chaos. Often, we have to fit the content to the capabilities of the tool rather than the other way around.

This is equally true for large and small companies. For large companies, you have far more constituents to deal with, usually more content, and often more types of content. For small companies, the budget might be the driver. Regardless, understanding the goals, the way things are done today, and the content itself allows you to analyze the gap between where you are and where you want to be. THEN you can look for technologies and workflows that will best help you bridge that gap.

Val Swisher, Founder and CEO, Content Rules, Inc. | @contentrulesinc

Val’s ICC presentation is What’s In a Word: How to Manage Terminology March 24.


Buddy Scalera

Buddy_Scalera-1-150x150Read Ann Rockley’s book Managing Enterprise Content. Read Scott Abel and Rahel Bailie’s book The Language of Content Strategy. Read Mark Lewis’ DITA Metrics 101. Then go to a conference where you can see these authors speak. Take a ton of notes, and follow up with them. They’re all nice people who will reply to your questions about their books.

You can probably figure out everything they have to say on your own, but there are so many things you need to know about working with intelligent content that you need this kind of active curation. Buy extra copies of these books and hand them out to people on your team. This kind of thing works best when everyone is aligned in the same direction for the same goal.

Buddy Scalera, SVP of Interactive Content and Market Research, Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide | @marketingbuddy

Buddy’s ICC presentation is The Long and Short of Content: Strategies for Intelligent Content Planning March 24. He’ll be joined by co-presenter Michelle Killebrew, Program Director of Social Business at IBM.


Cruce Saunders

Cruce Saunders photo_revIf you think of intelligent content as a tree, start with the core concepts “trunk,” and then move to the “branches” in the field. The trunk includes a basic understanding of what content structure is, why it’s important, and which disciplines are involved.

In large versus small organizations, the main difference is in granularity and application of intelligent content. All content should have a basic structure, but not all content needs detailed taxonomy or relationships applied, and not all kinds of markup are needed for all content providers.

Marketers with smaller budgets can start with the basics of content structure and metadata, decide whether they need markup like Schema.org, and start with a longer-term content strategy to understand where content fits in to the outcomes for the business and its customers. Then they can apply defined content types and structure to the existing content to enable content strategy and goals, build out essential taxonomy, and identify which markup tasks are necessary to meet goals and content strategy.

Cruce Saunders, Founder, Simple [A] | @mrcruce

Cruce’s ICC presentation is Orchestrating Intelligent Content: The Role of the Content Engineer March 25.


Ann Rockley

Ann RockleyStart with the content; don’t worry about technology in the beginning. Review your pain points, and determine which ones can be addressed by intelligent content. Even if you have a small budget or no budget, doing the following significantly improves your content and processes and positions you to move forward with intelligent content.

  • Analyze your content.
  • Develop structured content models. Determine whether you can support the structure using templates and structured writing guidelines.
  • Look at your content processes. Simplify and amalgamate them where you can to avoid having multiple people do the same thing.

If you have a budget, take the next step and develop these things:

  • A reuse strategy
  • A taxonomy, not just for delivering content to your customers but also for managing your content in a content management system
  • Workflow to automate and manage your processes
  • A publishing strategy, whether it be electronic only or also includes print and other types of output

Then, and only then, pick tools. Never pick tools until you have completed an analysis of your organizational needs, customer needs, and content strategy. Tools do the heavy lifting in intelligent content, but if you pick them first, there is a good chance your project will fail. Analysis and an awareness of your content strategy helps you to identify what you really need to deliver intelligent content, and it ensures that you evaluate the tools based on those needs.

Ann Rockley, CEO, The Rockley Group | @arockley

Ann’s ICC presentation is How to Create an Agile Content Factory March 25. She also gives a full-day preconference workshop, Building a FrameWork for Intelligent Content, March 23. And don’t miss out on the Healthcare Roundtable Ann is leading March 24, along with Buddy Scalera and Ahava Leibtag.


Sarah O’Keefe

Sarah OKeefe photo_revThe first step is to understand the business problem you are trying to solve. Then, attack the technical problem. Start seeing content not as a static thing, but as a living entity that you can manipulate into various containers and shapes.

Sarah O’Keefe, President and Founder, Scriptorium Publishing | @sarahokeefe

Sarah’s ICC presentation is Crown Equipment Case Study: Getting Started With Intelligent Content March 25. She’ll be joined by co-presenter Jodi Shimp, Global Content Manager at Crown Equipment.


James Mathewson

James Mathewson photo_revLearn about your audiences and listen to them. That’s job #1. Easier said than done, I know. But as hard as it is, it is possible only now because we can gather data about our audiences and feed it into our content publishing systems.

Here is a rough process for getting started:

Listen for keywords. Search engines are the best sources of data on what your target audiences need. The practice starts with Google AdWords. But AdWords does not provide the intelligence needed to sort and filter keywords by their relevance to your target audience. You need a data analyst or ontologist to do this – someone who can categorize the keywords into meaningful segments. One place to start is your corporate taxonomy. This is a decent representation of the way your company names things. If you can associate these values with the keywords you discover in your research, you can find out how your audience describes the categories of products or services you sell. Then you can turn your taxonomies outside-in, and start using client language in your user experiences.

Use your audience’s language. Perform an audit of your current publishing systems to determine who needs the keyword data in what phases of the process and in what form. Then build APIs into those tools to give the authors and editors access to the data as they are writing.

Measure your content effectiveness. As close as your authors can get with keyword data, it will not meet audience needs perfectly. They will miss the mark, and need to adjust content after it is published. Several metrics tools can measure to what extent your content is used. Build these tools into your authoring environment so that authors and editors can continue to learn audience preferences and adjust content accordingly.

Practice agile iterationAuthors and editors need to adjust the expectation that they will publish perfection. They need to embrace a culture of rapidly publishing their best efforts, and adjusting live content as the audience votes for its quality with clicks. This kind of culture change only happens if you give them the incentives to work with agility, and reward them when they do.

James Mathewson, Program Director, Global Search and Content Marketing, IBM | @James_Mathewson

James’ ICC presentation is IBM Case Study: Making Marketing Content Intelligent March 24. He’ll be joined by co-presenter Michael Priestley, Enterprise Content Technology Strategist at IBM.


Don Day

Don Day photo_revIntelligent content begins with understanding the implicit structure and semantic nature of your content. Regardless of the size of your organization, the process is more of an approach to design than a series of steps.

Imagine a conversation between your business, your customer, and your content. As a content strategist stepping up to this new role of content design, your aim is to facilitate that conversation so that your content can interact with both the customer and your business, deftly offering the right information in the right amount of detail when needed.

Start with a bottom-up analysis (that is, looking for small, common characteristics in your content). Identify some common terms used in your industry or that describe parts of a product or service. The vocabulary you or your client both talk and write about may represent bits of meaning or knowledge that, when captured, add to the intelligence of your content (by representing implicit links to related information, for example).

Then, do a top-down analysis (that is, looking for major differences across your content). First look for suggestions of organization in the existing content (inherent templates, as it were). Then imagine how you would change things, if you could, to make the existing content better suit the needs of your reader and your business.

I recommend repeating this process several times because on each new pass you will identify additional or better associations between your content and the needs of your business and your customers. The eventual model that you come up with, once documented, will be your ongoing road map for both developing and using that information in smart new ways.

Don Day, Consultant, Learning by Wrote | @donrday

Don’s ICC presentation is Getting Started With Adaptive Content March 24. He’ll be joined by co-presenter Jenny Magic, Content and Branding Strategist, Raise Your Hand Texas.


Laurel Counts

Laurel Counts photo_revAt Moody’s Analytics, we haven’t yet gotten deep into intelligent content. The team has just started analyzing a wide selection of documents to identify our high-level content chunks. I am as eager as anybody to hear other responses on this question!

Even so, I already have two pieces of advice:

  • Get the needed experience and skill on your team.
  • Take a phased approach.

Get the needed experience and skill on your team

We have two key players on our CMS project team: one writer who previously worked at a company that developed an in-house CMS, and another who started as a programmer. These two worked together to develop our prototype. If you don’t have this experience and skill on your team now, be looking to bring it in with every open position. If you remain dependent on the engineers to provide technical expertise, your project will go to the back burner when product release schedules start to slip. Send other team members to training so they understand the concepts. We are using this option for those who are joining the original two on our CMS team.

Take a phased approach

Our top priority is to continue delivering documentation for product releases, and our CMS has to be developed around this. With many products, multiple documents, thousands of pages, ongoing releases – and no extra staff – we saw too much risk in attempting to convert all documents within a short period. We developed a phased approach to reduce that risk.

We broke the project into manageable pieces. Our first phase includes the development of transformation sheets that will allow us to generate PDF files and help files that are similar to the PDFs and help files we currently produce. With these, we can begin using our new system (XML) and continue using our old system (FrameMaker and RoboHelp) simultaneously without the customer noticing a difference in the final documents. Now, we can migrate our documents into the new system gradually, according to priorities that we define.

Laurel Counts, Director of Technical Communications, Moody’s Analytics | @techcommcounts

At ICC, Laurel is participating in a panel discussion, How to Increase Content Velocity Through Agile Practices, March 25. She’ll be joined by fellow panelists Andrew Bredenkamp , Margo Stern, and James Turcotte.


Rahel Anne Bailie

rahelbailiePeople seem to have little interest in figuring out intelligent content until the pain of creating and maintaining content becomes so great that it creates a willingness to look at alternative solutions.

Intelligent content solutions require two basic things:

  • An understanding of the mechanics
  • The tools to make the mechanics work

The most counterintuitive request I hear is whether it’s possible to “dumb down” the system so that writers don’t have to think about it or whether the writers can “just write” and then have a more technical person go and do the “techie stuff.” To me, that’s like putting someone in the driver’s seat of a fancy car without expecting them to know how to use the gas pedal, the brakes, or the clutch.

Now, I’m not advocating that every driver needs to know how to put in a new transmission, change the oil, or even understand everything going on under the hood (the way content engineers work with the mechanics behind intelligent content). But if you want to be a professional communicator, particularly one who can create intelligent content, you’ve got to learn at least the basics. You must know how to adjust your mirrors, shift gears, steer, etc. (structure your content properly, create content for reuse, apply metadata tags appropriately, etc.) so that you can get where you want to go.

Rahel Anne Bailie, Founder, International Design | @rahelab

Rahel’s ICC presentation is Stories That Sell: What Content Marketing Can Learn From Content Engineering March 25. She also gives a full-day preconference workshop, The Nuts and Bolts of Intelligent Content, March 23.


Michael Arnold

Michael Arnold photoIn my opinion, modularity is key when setting up your content. What does that mean? It means that the structure of your data allows pieces of information to be reused –  used unchanged – in as many places and contexts as possible.

Take a company that sells motorcycles. This company must provide an owner’s manual for every motorcycle. Some details will vary across the manuals, but other information appears in every manual in the same way, for example, warning labels. Every motorcycle has brakes, and the underlying principle is always the same: Don’t lock up the wheels under braking. Finish braking before going into a corner. Don’t overheat the brakes.

With modular content, these warning labels can be saved in one location. Instead of copying and pasting them into separate owner’s manuals, writers can link to them so that every document refers to the same set of warning labels. This way, every label only needs to be translated once, and changes are made in one place only instead of manually changing every occurrence.

Small companies may reap the benefits of modular content faster than large companies because the ratio of reusable to variable content is more favorable if only a small amount of product variation is documented.

Michael Arnold, Technical Editor, KTM Motorrad AG

Michael’s ICC presentation is KTM Motorcycle Case Study: Lessons Learned in Developing Intelligent Content March 25. He’ll be joined by co-presenter Alan Horvath, Managing Director of STAR Group America, who will share additional insights into the benefits of creating and maintaining technical information in intelligent content structures applicable to any industry sector.


Summary

If you’re among the many who are drawn to the idea of intelligent content but aren’t sure where to begin, I hope you’ve found a few pointers here that make sense for your situation. Maybe you found it reassuring to hear that you don’t have to do it all at once, and, in fact, you couldn’t if you tried. You may have found it useful to hear that you can – and should – get started with a common-sense, business-minded evaluation of your content before you give a thought to expensive, complex tools. Isn’t it nice to know that you can start today without buying a thing?

Still, you have a challenge ahead.  Many of us are looking for examples to follow. In the LinkedIn discussion I referred to previously, Joe Pack speaks for many of us, I’m sure, when he says, “I wish someone could predict the future and give us a little insight into how we should structure content marketing strategies over the long-haul. I guess what we’re all going to have to do is set ourselves to continually adapt and change as trends come and go.”

You don’t have to be a marketer to share Joe’s sentiment. People in various roles across the organization are looking for stories that can “give us a little insight” into ways intelligent content might work for them and their departments.

Do you have a story or insight to share? Got an example that others might be grateful to hear about? Please leave a comment below.

Intelligent Content Conference 2015

Want to hear more from these speakers? Want to learn more about getting started with intelligent content? Here are three things you can do right now:

About the author

marcia riefer johnston Marcia Riefer Johnston (@marciarjohnston), managing editor of Intelligent Content for the Content Marketing Institute, has attended several Intelligent Content Conferences and looks forward to the next one. She is the author of Word Up! How to Write Powerful Sentences and Paragraphs (And Everything You Build From Them). See Writing.Rocks.

The answers provided by the ICC speakers above were submitted via email and edited according to Content Marketing Institute style guidelines.

Title image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski, Content Marketing Institute


  • http://www.vinishgarg.com/ Vinish Garg

    Another gem in the series. Cannot agree more on a few points:

    (a) Don’t overengineer
    (b) Start seeing content not as a static thing, but as a living entity that you can manipulate into various containers and shapes.

    (c) Tools are secondary

  • http://howtowriteeverything.com/ Marcia Riefer Johnston

    Vinish, You refer to manipulating the content “into various containers and shapes.” People sometimes use the analogy of the Play-Doh machine. I often envision content that way. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2e/Playdoh.jpg

  • http://www.vinishgarg.com/ Vinish Garg

    Perfect!

    My three takeaways were direct picks from the experts in the post. it was Sarah’s note where she adds “…manipulate into various containers and shapes.”.

    When it comes to analogies, I often refer to either Master Chef series (you saw it on Tom’s blog once), or traffic and transportation solutions. 🙂

  • Sarah O’Keefe

    Traffic is an interesting one, especially if you take into account big city traffic! I hadn’t thought of Play-Doh…I’m more about Legos since content does have *some* defined shape.

    I also use a lot of buildings/architecture/building materials analogies.

  • http://www.vinishgarg.com/ Vinish Garg

    When I stop my car at a red point signal, and then start when it turns green, I see a lot of parallels in the ‘cars’ and ‘content chunks’.

    Primarily, it is about synchronization of how one traffic streams makes its space in another stream. La Information flow in an organization.

    Most often while driving, we are not seeing other drivers but we make decisions to slow down or accelerate based on the body language of car itself. (Indian context at least, or particularly when driving in the dark.) Likewise, content too is intelligent, and it has its body language; not everyone in the organization give it the space that it needs 🙂

    I wrote a related post in late 2013, http://www.vinishgarg.com/2013/10/content-has-its-emotional-needs/, may not be too relevant to make a business case (something you always advocate).

  • http://www.honestmarketingrevolution.com/ Erica Holthausen

    This post, along with the conversation in the LinkedIn group, has been immensely helpful. Noz’s comment about putting the technology aside, and focusing on the structure and taxonomy of various types of content was a light bulb moment for me. With that simple statement, everything else started to fall into place. And as someone who has a tendency to want everything to be done perfectly right out of the gate, the repeat reminders to take a step-by-step approach and let the process evolve have been very helpful.

    Val also reminded me that just because the cool kids are doing it, doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. And that the technology is a tool, not a magic wand. But the right tool can make the entire process easier and the right tool might change as your own process evolves. I imagine that right tool could take any number of forms, especially for smaller businesses.

    I deeply appreciate Buddy’s book suggestions. As a former bookseller, I tend to turn to books to solve whatever challenge I am facing at the moment. And as an amateur genealogist, Cruce’s tree metaphor instantly resonated with me.

    By the time I started reading Ann’s advice, I was nodding along. And the relationship between a taxonomy and content management system finally clicked. Light dawns on marble head!

    The rest of the post served to reinforce the idea that Intelligent Content is simply good content marketing, refined. It helps us do our jobs even more effectively. It isn’t about data versus story but a meeting of the two. Thank you, Marcia, for pointing us to this great resource. I’ve learned a hell of a lot in the last few days!

  • http://howtowriteeverything.com/ Marcia Riefer Johnston

    Erica, You’re welcome. I’m delighted to hear about your aha moments. I learn from these collaborative posts myself. Thanks for taking the time to share the things you found helpful.

    I like your phrase “It isn’t about data versus story but a meeting of the two.” People sometimes argue against automation on the basis of defending quality content. The thing is, quality content and well-executed automation are not at odds. We have to start with good content (good stories, etc.), or nothing else is worth a penny’s investment. But we can’t stop there. We need smart strategy and intelligent uses of technology to get that good content to the right people in the right way at the right time.

    Given your appreciation for the books that Buddy suggested, you’ll want to check out the whole set of five in the Content Wrangler Content Strategy series: http://xmlpress.net/content-strategy/

  • http://www.honestmarketingrevolution.com/ Erica Holthausen

    One of the things I’m thinking about is if it would be possible (or indeed wise) to create a somewhat standard taxonomy of content. I can envision an excel spreadsheet with certain fields standard and required. The spreadsheet could be used as the first step towards populating the selected application. Is there anything like this out there already? In truth, I’m not sure if this idea is genius or boneheaded.

    Oh, and thank you for the link to those books! I’ve got some reading to do!

  • Guest

    Oh, and thank you for the link to those books! I’ve got some reading to do.

  • http://howtowriteeverything.com/ Marcia Riefer Johnston

    You’re welcome, Erica.

  • http://howtowriteeverything.com/ Marcia Riefer Johnston

    Erica, Definitely not a boneheaded idea. In fact, one of the terms you’ll discover in the book “The Language of Content Strategy” is “content standard.” The semiofficial definition can be tough to wrangle with if you’re not deep into this lingo (see Mark Lewis’s definition here: http://www.thelanguageofcontentstrategy.com/2014/03/term-of-the-week%3A-content-standard#.VQCUYUKP6fI). Basically, a content standard gives people across various industries and organizations a common basis for structuring content. DITA is one example of a content standard. (That’s a huge topic I won’t take on here.)

    That kind of content standard isn’t a taxonomy, though. I haven’t heard of standard taxonomies in the sense of “standard” across industries. As Rachel Lovinger defines the term “taxonomy,” it’s usually unique to a specific area of knowledge. (Here’s her definition: (http://www.thelanguageofcontentstrategy.com/2014/07/term-of-the-week%3A-taxonomy#.VQCVxUKP6fI)

  • http://www.honestmarketingrevolution.com/ Erica Holthausen

    And more good stuff to dig into!

  • http://www.urbinaconsulting.com/ B. Noz Urbina

    Hi Erica,

    Thanks for the comment. I really want to help take the ‘fear factor’ out of Intelligent Content for people. There’s so many terms and ideas flying at the content professional today that many are starting to get a rabbit-in-headlights look and that the thought leaders community sometimes seems to be trying to get as many modifiers on “content” as they can manage (adaptive, responsive, intelligent, nimble, agile, structured, semantic…).

    So, let me publicly apologies for that on behalf of my fellow ICC speakers. We’re nice people, really! : )

    Regarding your spreadsheet idea, that’s exactly how we do it. I, Ann Rockley, Kevin Nichols, Lindy Roux and many more modellers and strategists all use spreadsheets to map out the ‘Intelligence’ bit of intelligent / adaptive content (plug: see my ICC workshop). Although we’ve got our own methods each with a different focus and flavour, the core concepts of “What is it? How many are allowed vs required? Where?” for each element of the content are basically standard.

    Think about this: Intelligent Content is like a ‘half-way house’ between document and database. A person can read it like a document, but a machine can parse and manipulate it like data. Spreadsheets, have a nice simple UI, but are still highly tabular and structured nature and can do linking and duplicating of content between cells. This works very well for planning out structured, reusable content.

    So, the reality may not be exactly as you were envisaging in your mind (I can’t know) but your core concept was spot on what most of the specialists speaking at ICC would also recommend; and we like to think we’re not boneheads. 🙂

  • http://www.wordspicturesweb.com/ Buddy Scalera

    Erica,

    I try to keep up with at least one business or professional book per month. Some months are better than others. If you really want to get deep into a topic, you have to commit yourself, and that often means book-length content.

    At work, my personal library is constantly in flux. I typically have to buy really good books more than once, since people borrow them and forget to return them. I’m just happy that people are hungry enough for information that they’ll keep a book on the nightstand.

    Buddy

    @MarketingBuddy

  • http://www.honestmarketingrevolution.com/ Erica Holthausen

    I do the same thing–both with business books and pleasure reading. Early in my career, my boss told me to read something related to my area of expertise for at least 30 minutes every day. I never forgot that advice and it has served me well over the years. And I understand that revolving door of good books!

  • http://www.honestmarketingrevolution.com/ Erica Holthausen

    In marketing as in life, sometimes the simplest solution really is the best! I’ve so enjoyed digging into this topic–and while I’ve only just scratched the surface, it makes a whole lot of sense and now I *do* know how to get started.

  • Jaffer Wilson

    Thank you all for sharing your enlightening thoughts with me. But can anybody tell me what will happen when search engines become intelligent?

  • http://howtowriteeverything.com/ Marcia Riefer Johnston

    Jaffer, I would like to know that myself.

  • http://www.urbinaconsulting.com/ B. Noz Urbina

    Hi Both,

    I started replying twice and then when I couldn’t stop answering, it expanded into an article on its own:

    http://urbinaconsulting.com/2015/04/08/what-happens-when-search-engines-become-intelligent-intelligent-content-15/

    The nutshell answer is:

    Search engines are already intelligent. In fact, one of the reasons that people need to get their own content more intelligent in a hurry is to keep up with the possibilities of modern SERPs. A tiny fraction of companies in the world (the ones you might see presenting
    case studies at the Intelligent Content Conference) are ahead of what engines are doing, but the mass market is still in the dark ages.

    Search engines are working bring the world forward – Google, Bing, Yandex and Yahoo! in collaboration in fact – and enticing them with the almighty “better SEO” if they step up to the challenge.

    However, Search Engine providers will only focus on their own part of the value chain.100% of what they do is focused on making sure that content can be intelligently exchanged between sites and engines. Your reuse across formats, or anything else that they don’t profit from, doesn’t makes sense for them to invest in. So if your brand is suffering because your content is not intelligent enough, no relevant tips will come up in any materials they publish. You could have great, intelligent delivery to SERPS and still be squandering budget unnecessarily or missing opportunities during content creation, translation, governance; not adapting sufficiently for user needs or failing to optimize content personalization; underperforming on alternate channels; or allowing inconsistent messaging, facts and branding to get out to market.

    That’s why events like the ICC are so important and why
    I’m running my legs off trying to raise awareness beyond the web and
    search engines. The more educated the market is on the omnichannel
    benefits of intelligent and adaptive content, the more fun my job is.

  • http://www.urbinaconsulting.com/ B. Noz Urbina

    PS – check out the ‘fun fact’ at the end. VERY cool!

  • http://howtowriteeverything.com/ Marcia Riefer Johnston

    Noz, I won’t spoil the suspense by giving away that “fun fact,” but I will say that it made me chuckle. Thanks for all those insights and examples.

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