Nicole France of Contentful – Content is the Story a Company Tells About Itself

The term creator has been gaining a lot of attention lately, as companies need to consistently produce engaging content in order to grab the attention of people who are looking to do business long enough to convert views into revenue. But the traditional role that content has played in the business model has changed dramatically in the past two years, and especially the past 18 months with the pandemic.

During The last episode of CRM Playaz With co-host Paul Greenberg, we spoke with two CEOs contentA leading content platform for digital business first. Dina Apostolo, Vice President of Product Marketing, and Nicole France, The Angelist, share with us how the role of content has evolved into a more central role in business, going beyond lead generation and SEO to help tell the full story of an organization.

Below is an edited version of part of our conversation. Click the built-in SoundCloud player to listen to the full conversation.

Dina Apostolo: The past two years have been explosive. The content is no longer just about the front end of the trip and the back end of the trip. There are a lot of complications there, especially in terms of the types of income generating activities and cross selling … the analyzes it generates around it, but it kind of puts it in context.

Nicole France: I would argue that if you are going to zoom out and take a big picture, the content is valid, the story the company tells. She tells her clients, she even tells her employees, and all the different elements of that. It’s everything from brand promise, advertising, and the way it’s perceived. It’s the set of things you sell, tangible or not, how you describe them, and how you put them. It’s all the things you use in your communications, interactions, and dealings with customers.

Sometimes this is expressed in specific origins. A PDF document, image, brochure or billboard advertisement whatever. But it’s sometimes a bit more blurry than that, too. So, if we’re talking about content and Sven’s question, how do you monetize it? I think the answer would be very subjective, because it’s not the same in every company. But if you can think about what it is from a big picture perspective, this is where you will get the best and most effective answer for how to make it work for you.

It’s really cool when you start talking about the content, because first of all, it’s not like the thing at the end of the line, that’s just the copywriters doing it and they go to the website and not necessarily an afterthought. But content really is an integral part of how businesses communicate with their customers. What they are, what they do, what they sell, what they care about, what they think is important to their customers, all of these things are really content in one form or another.

So what gets really interesting about a completely headless concept, the idea that we separate content from where it goes and where it’s shown has some really interesting implications for who designs it, who creates it, and how they think about creating he-she. Because by virtue of changing that process, we’re actually able to change some thinking about what goes into the entire content lifecycle, not just where it ends up rendering.

Brent Leary: All the talk about digital transformation, has that changed the way companies generally view content and how it is used? Especially digital native companies or cloud companies that were born to think this way. But what about the meat and potato companies that focus more on product than message and content, are you starting to see them change their approach and look at content in a way that is more strategically central to everyone, not just collecting potential customers or one just driving the general?

Dina Apostolo: There has been this massive shift towards digital. But even when you think about companies that are naturally built on a physical footprint, they still have a digital aspect to them. And you hit one of those, right? There’s the outgoing stuff, but then you think about all the data captures. At this point, let’s say, the sale. Or indulgences and the kinds of experiences you might have there. These are the forms of content that generate data. Regardless, content is a very important key component of a business. It is not a final step of implementation, but in fact it lies in the core component of a digital strategy. And so we are seeing more business and more customers who belong to this mindset.

If you’re thinking about games, that’s a good example of services and how they think about content and where they talk about games, whether they talk about the whole nurture experience or they talk about the community. There are many forms of content. Voice versus action, physical versus verbal, there are all of these things. So it is no longer about content in the form of text on the page. It is really widespread. And we see customers, it’s not just about digital natives as well, but those that will survive are those who rethink their strategy with digital at its center and content as one of those core assets of their business, they can get an IP around.

Nicole France: To the extent that it’s not just about digital natives. I think every business over the last 18 months has discovered that this whole digital thing isn’t just a fad. And I think what’s interesting is that it’s not so much about operating as a more traditional company in all of these digital channels, but I think what we’ve seen over recent months is the realization that it really requires a different way of thinking and a different way of working. This is as much about changing some of the processes as it is about making sure you have the right tools to do it. So, think of companies like Moderna and CVS, they’ve had the last year or the last year or two with some crazy things going on. They are very much driven to change the way they think about content and what it means to be digital first, like Netflix or Spotify or whoever has been a digital native offers things like streaming content.

And it’s really cool to watch because you’re starting to see that whole concept of digital first, I think, really starting to understand it better. It does not mean that it is all about owning a business channel. This may be part of a more comprehensive strategy. And if you don’t really think about all of these things holistically, even when you have retail stores, even when you do things face to face and then in person, digital is still pervasive in all of those areas as well. So if you don’t build a broad understanding of what that means and how to support it efficiently, you will be kind of crushed under your own weight because you will duplicate the effort and you will pay at the expense of the odds to make it happen. And frankly, it would be painful and slow.

This is part of a series of one-on-one interviews with thought leaders. The text has been edited for publication. If it’s an audio or video interview, click the embedded player above, or sign up via iTunes or via Stitcher.

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