By Pamela Muldoon published February 17, 2015

Scott Abel Discusses Why Content Marketers Must Embrace Intelligent Content

scot-abel-chief-content-strategist-coverTo prep you for the Intelligent Content Conference March 23-25 in San Francisco, Content Marketing NEXT is speaking with a few of ICC’s speakers.

I continue the Intelligent Content Conference conversations with the past co-organizer of ICC and the original Content Wrangler, Scott Abel. His years of experience in technical content creation, as well as content strategy, give him a unique perspective on the intelligent content conversation.

Listen to Pamela’s full interview with Scott here:

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What’s new, what’s now, what’s next

What’s new:

Scott co-organized the Intelligent Content Conference with founder Ann Rockley primarily to help content-heavy organizations be more productive. The conversation is about “the technology and the approaches that allow us to deliver the right piece of information to the right person at the right time in the right language/format onto the device of their choosing.”

Last year, the Content Marketing Institute purchased ICC. Scott says it’s natural to have content marketing and intelligent content merge.

The ability to address all of the content challenges takes more than people. This is a time when companies need to think differently – learning from other disciplines within the organization and educating those other areas about marketing. There is no longer room for gaps among departments.

It is vital for companies to take an honest assessment of how they work and be brutal about whether it is the most efficient way to accomplish the outcomes. There may be better ways to think about how to solve the problem. People inside the organization may have to let go of long-held beliefs and processes. A true strategist will look at all the opportunities and pinpoint the ones that are best not only for today but also for the future.

What’s now:

Scott challenges you to think of the entire process of content much like a manufacturer would.

What if we were to develop a content factory? Before you panic and think that this eliminates the creative element, consider a Six Sigma approach – detect defects and make them go away. If you know where the defects are in your content process, you can fix, automate, or even eliminate them.

Your content should differentiate your brand from the competition, not from other departments in your organization. So you first must understand the process of content in every area of the company. If you can’t produce and distribute content to all of the places it’s needed in the manner that your target audience wants it, the chances of reaching these people become limited.

People inside of corporations can waste a lot of time looking for information they know exists. They often abandon the search and move forward by recreating the content in the best way they know how. They re-create by recollection, which is not reliable. If you can be brutally honest about what is working, what is not working, and what needs to change in the content process, employee productivity for effective content creation and distribution will increase.

What’s next:

Scott believes that the adoption of the intelligent content approach by brands and organizations is the logical next step. Marketing has to be open to the new ideas on content creation. Change takes time and mistakes will be made, but it will bring about best practices that can be created across departments, and a true content unification will begin.

Scott references the words and work of business expert Peter Drucker, in that now we are all knowledge workers who need to improve our productivity. We need to create an optimized system of work and ensure there are enough workers skilled to work within this system.

Content marketers need to think aggressively on how to increase the pace of talent development and find ways to deploy the best talent against the highest value business opportunities.

Blast the buzzword

Scott’s buzzword: Customer experience

Scott chose this phrase not because it’s a bad idea for companies to discuss but because so many companies only give it lip service. The customer experience is not just at the point of sale. It happens as the consumer researches the product online. It happens post-sale too. Does the content with which the consumer comes in contact at all stages provide an excellent and consistent experience?

According to Scott, we have enough mediocre content. And “good-enough” content sucks. Intelligent content can be created and distributed as a service to the customer, which elevates the experience.

In the hot seat

Here’s a recap of Scott’s hot-seat Q&A:

Q1: What innovation in the last five years has made your life as a content marketer better?

It’s the ability to distribute social media messages to multiple outlets simultaneously. Applications such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social are great examples of using automation to allow content to still be creative, but efficient.

Q2: What is the most valuable advice you have been given personally or professionally?

Scott recently worked with Rexi Media’s neuroscientist Dr. Carmen Simon who studies the neurobiology of the company’s presentations and how to make content memorable. She shared that your audience will forget 90% of what you say. So, focus on the 10% they will remember, leave them wanting the 90%, and have a deliverable you can give them.

You can accomplish this in three steps:

  1. Attention triggers: Deviate in speed of presentation, use of imagery, or sound.
  2. Memory magnets: Map the content to something they recognize.
  3. Decision driver: Provide a deliverable such as “come up and ask me after the presentation.”

Q3: What book have you read that still stays with you today?

Document Engineering by Robert Glushko and Tim McGrath, which teaches that documents are not necessarily pieces of paper but the interfaces through which humans interact with information. This can be through a touch screen, audio, web page, physical document, or even two methods talking to one another. The content in this book is asking us to think differently about the flow of the content conversation.

For a full list of archives, go to the main Content Marketing NEXT page.

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Cover image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Pamela Muldoon

Pamela Muldoon is the Podcast Network Director for the CMI Podcast Network. In her role with CMI, she assists the podcast hosts with the development, production, distribution and promotion of their shows. Pamela is a veteran podcaster who can be heard on the CMI Podcast Network with her latest show "Content Marketing NEXT". To date, she has interviewed over 200 business and marketing professionals as part of her podcast formats. She is also a professional VoiceOver talent specializing in commercial, narration, eLearning, and promo projects. Learn more at or Follow her on Twitter @pamelamuldoon.

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  • rogercparker

    Listening to Pamela’s interview with Scott Abel reminded me of the time I interviewed Ray Dolby before his audio noise reduction became the worldwide standard–i.e., listening to a master simplifier making sense of a complex topic. This interview makes the case for major changes in content management suddenly “obvious.”

    BTW, One of the best examples of the potential offered by the ideas addressed in the interview is Scott’s co-authored book, The Language of Content Strategy.

  • Pamela Muldoon

    It’s not always easy to break down certain topics into an audio interview, but I agree, Scott makes it much easier for me as the interviewer! He has great analogies and understands his topic so well, that getting it down to basics and simplicity is very natural for him. And he’s pretty witty, too! :-)
    Thanks, as always, for being such a diligent podcast listener, Roger!

  • shreya

    To make a good product you need to have a good foundation, a good beginning. Any presentation whether visual, audio-visual or text-scribed begins with an effective, powerful script. See More…

  • GoPromotional

    This is interesting! Content can be automatically adapted to multiple devices with little or no human intervention, reducing costs and increasing speed to delivery.

  • Sandy

    Really enjoyed this podcast episode. I’m trying to learn more about intelligent content and how it integrates into the marketing landscape. This is the first time I’ve heard Scott Abel present and he’s able to turn a pretty complex and potentially “dry” subject into an engaging and entertaining listen. Favorite quote, “Good enough content sucks” pretty much sums it up.

    Wish I could attend the Intelligent Content Conference this year, but that’s not in the budget. However, I saw where the sessions are going to be available after the conference, which is a great option for people who cannot attend in person. Thanks for providing that option.

    • Michele Linn

      Thanks for the nice comment, Sandy. Scott has a way with explaining complex topics in an approachable way.

      You may also like today’s post on intelligent content that breaks down the components and provides an example. Several people have told me this was their “ah ha” moment:

      • Sandy

        Thanks for the link. I subscribe to the CMI blog and this was sitting in my inbox, but I hadn’t seen it yet. What perfect timing!