Q&A with Robert Rose, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at The Content Advisory

Robert Rose, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory has worked with more than 500 companies, including 15 of the Fortune 100 and provided marketing advice and counsel for global brands such as Facebook, Capital One, Dell, Ernst & Young, Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, etc.

Robert is also an early-stage investor and advisor to a number of technology startups, apart from being a featured keynote speaker and workshop teacher at technology and marketing events around the world.

MEDIA 7: If we were talking a year from now celebrating what a great 12 months it’s been for you in this role, what would you have achieved?
ROBERT ROSE: 
We’re on a path to double the size of our business in the next 12 months. We’ve been quite blessed to work with some of the greatest brands on the planet, to help them sort out their content operations and strategy. So, a great year from us is continuing to work with more and more, and different, types of enterprises – while we increase our capacity to deliver the smartest content strategy and education.

M7: In what way is The Content Advisory transforming marketing practices and accelerating the strategic content marketing shift?
RR:
Given our experience, and the number of companies we’ve worked with over the last 7 years, we’ve got a unique perspective on what works in content marketing.  We’ve watched as Content Marketing has gone from this “nice-to-have” addition to demand generation and SEO, to a must-have, strategic function for adding overall value to the business. In other words, we’ve watched content marketing go from marketing tactic, to business strategy. The frameworks (which is really the output of our unique perspective) for setting a foundational operation model for content, along with how to create the teams, the governance and the measurement strategies are what set us apart for our clients’ success.


"Content Marketing has gone from this “nice-to-have” addition to demand generation and SEO, to a must-have, strategic function for adding overall value to the business."

M7: With more than 8 years of content marketing experience, what is the paradigm shift you see in content marketing practices today?
RR:
The biggest shift we see is how content is becoming a strategic business operation, in much the same way as accounting, legal, or R&D. “Content” used to be the thing that was everybody’s job, and nobody’s strategy. Today, because content is such a core output of any business, it has to be treated with the same strategic rigor as any other function in the business. As I’ve said before, we all perform levels of “accounting” in our business. We fill out expense sheets, turn in profit and loss reports, utilize budgets, etc… But we don’t do these things in just any way we like. We conform to a centralized approach to the function of accounting.  The same is true in content.  The companies that are succeeding with content have shifted their approach to the practice to make it a strategic function in the business.

M7: How does strategic consulting help businesses in building passionate, trustworthy audiences for their brands?
RR: 
Well it doesn’t to be honest. It’s very easy to get caught into the classic consulting trap of some kind of “magic button”. As we’re the first to say, we’re not here to tell your story – we’re just here to help you tell it a little better.  Our goal is to help marketing leaders understand the steps – the road map – to building these valuable audiences.  It will be up to them and their team to continually apply what we can instill to engage them, and keep them loyal over time.


"Great customer experiences, continually deliver value to consumers. At the heart of each of those experiences is content – it is what drives every experience."

M7: In what way does the strategic use of content create better customer experiences for any enterprise?
RR: 
The main value I would use is the word “trust���. Great customer experiences, continually deliver value to consumers. The first time I meet a customer I deliver a little bit of value. The second time, I deliver a little more value. The third time, a little more value.  Eventually, I’m delivering enough value through the experience that the customer wants to pay for what comes next and – if designed well – that next experience is the product/service I have in the market place. 
But at the heart of each of those experiences is content – it is what drives every experience. So, we must have a connected, central, and holistic manner of managing our communication within those experiences.  This is why a content strategy is so important.

M7: As a content strategy expert, what is the advice that you would like to give to present marketers for delivering effective content-driven experiences?
RR:
 Focus on the experience, not the asset.  No matter where you are on your journey, stop producing assets – and start producing a “center of gravity” of content.  You might call it a resource center, or a hub, or a blog, or a magazine, or an event, or whatever.  But stop producing random assets that are used only as bait for random marketing campaigns, and start producing content against an editorial theme that will connect together across a platform that builds an audience.  Now, that doesn’t mean that the assets that you create can’t be used to support random campaigns – but in order to produce multiple lines of value, the content must start working harder – and when you have a platform, the next piece you create will work harder for you because the previous one (that is connected in some way) exists.


"Focus on the experience, not the asset.  No matter where you are on your journey, stop producing assets – and start producing a “center of gravity” of content."

M7: When did you start working and what was it?
RR:
I started working in marketing in the mid 1990s in the television industry.  I worked for Showtime Networks in their marketing department.

ABOUT THE CONTENT ADVISORY

Content is everything the business creates in order to communicate. In today’s world, the way we communicate is the only thing that separates us from the next: The next click, the next competitor, the next answer. But mastering content is not simply a creative, business process, or technological challenge. It is both emotional and logical. It is a cultural transformation. It is a fundamental shift in the way we create, collaborate, and collect insight on every communication.

TCA – The Content Advisory is a consulting and training company; blending the art and science of intelligent content to help today’s modern business communication’s strategy.

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First announced at CES and coming soon to the Alibaba.com Smart Assistant is the Instant Help feature, which leverages an AI-powered chatbot to answer basic inquiries and offer real-time insights and resources, regardless of time zones or language barriers. The Instant Help feature provides buyers with essential knowledge and industry insights about a variety of verticals and product types, as well as offer tips to elevate their communications with suppliers. It will help ensure small businesses can increase efficiency, purchase smart and keep up with trends by leveraging AI to increase competitive advantages. Since their launch in September 2023, the first two features of the Smart Assistant – Upgraded Image Search and Smart Request for Quotation (RFQ) – have already provided significant benefit to entrepreneurs using the Alibaba.com desktop platform. Based on Alibaba.com's internal study since September 2023, buyers using the Upgraded Image Search have seen a 28% higher deal closing rate than those only using traditional text search. Buyers who used the Smart RFQ tool saw 29% more quotes from suppliers, while suppliers saw a 21% increase in buyer responses to quotes as compared to the original RFQ process. "Developed from buyer-supplier feedback and embedded with profound industry knowledge, we are excited to demonstrate how the Smart Assistant rapidly and accurately produces product requests and images aligning with buyer needs," Lu said. "Smart Assistant helps buyers embrace their creativity, improve the efficiency of matching buyers and sellers, while making sourcing more accessible for all." Alibaba.com will provide a showcase of Smart Assistant features at their booth on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 at 11:00 AM PT, hosted by smart sourcing expert Stella Shenshen. The Alibaba.com booth is located at the Las Vegas Convention Center's Tech East in the AI and Robotics section in North Hall's Grand Lobby on level 1, Booth 9017. Visitors to the booth will also have the opportunity to network and connect with 20 top-rated suppliers in-person, personally experiencing the ways Alibaba.com offers buyers advanced sourcing solutions and AI-powered tools to take their business to the next level. Tech and AI Power the Future of Businesses, E-commerce and Sourcing In addition to announcing new Smart Assistant features at CES, Alibaba.com leadership will discuss the evolution of e-commerce and sourcing, as well as how sourcing has been influenced and improved by AI and other technological innovations. Going "Entreprenuts" to Support Small Business Innovation To complement its presence at CES, Alibaba.com is also debuting a new campaign celebrating entrepreneurial spirit and innovation. The Entreprenuts campaign highlights how entrepreneurs are willing to bet big, as well as maintain persistence and boundless creativity, against daunting odds. In other words, they can go a little "entreprenuts" to achieve their dreams and create new products – just like the products showcased each year at CES. Throughout the Entreprenuts campaign, which will run from January 8 through February 8, 2024, Alibaba.com will encourage buyers to share stories of their craziest entrepreneurial moments, utilizing the most "nuts'' stories in a video highlight to showcase what it means to be an Entreprenut. Buyers can also earn their Entreprenut badge and profile by answering a questionnaire that will determine their unique Entreprenut characteristic. At the end of each quiz, buyers will be provided with exclusive tools and services to help them achieve their goals as they kickstart 2024. "This campaign demonstrates Alibaba.com's continued support of small and medium-sized businesses in the United States and helping them realize their entrepreneurial dreams and push beyond what others might believe possible," said Rah Mahtani, Head of Marketing for North America at Alibaba.com. "As buyers share their experiences, Alibaba.com will offer innovative new resources and products to help these 'Entreprenuts' succeed on their journey." The campaign debuts at a key crossroads for small business owners. The US has seen a surge in the number of newly registered businesses, which hit record highs in both 2021 (5.4 million) and 2022 (5.1 million). Sadly, 20% of these new businesses face failure within the first two years, and a staggering 45% of startups do not surpass the five-year mark due to challenges such as market volatility, supply chain disruption, shifting consumer demands, and inventory management. This makes the tools and capabilities Alibaba.com offers, which are designed to help entrepreneurs level up their sourcing and supply chain operations in the increasingly competitive small business arena, more valuable than ever. About Alibaba.com Launched in 1999, Alibaba.com is a leading platform for global business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce that serves buyers and suppliers from over 200 countries and regions around the world. It is engaged in services covering all aspects of commerce, including providing businesses with tools that help them reach a global audience for their products and helping buyers discover products, find suppliers and place orders online fast and efficiently. Alibaba.com is part of Alibaba International Digital Commerce Group.

Read More

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DREAMSPRING AND WOODFOREST NATIONAL BANK COLLABORATE TO STRENGTHEN SMALL BUSINESS LENDING AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP ACROSS THE U.S.

PR Newswire | January 10, 2024

DreamSpring, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and Small Business Administration (SBA) lender, and Woodforest National Bank® (Woodforest), a national bank with over 760 branches across 17 states, are working together to provide access to $1.5 million in debt capital to low- and moderate-income (LMI) small business entrepreneurs. The influx of lending capital from Woodforest to DreamSpring is a milestone in their shared commitment to spur community development and job creation through expanding peer networks and increasing access to capital. "Our collaboration with Woodforest widens the path for entrepreneurs to access much-needed capital and business resources," said Anne Haines, President and CEO of DreamSpring. "With Woodforest at our side, DreamSpring continues to expand our capacity to help small business owners realize their dreams and build stronger, more resilient communities through entrepreneurship." Daniel Galindo, Senior Vice President & Director of the CRA Program & Strategic Initiatives at Woodforest National Bank added, "Working with a strong CDFI like DreamSpring combines both organizations' financial strengths to provide access to LMI small business owners who struggle to get the funds they need to run and grow their business which is a key focus for our team." Both financial institutions share a commitment to empowering communities through entrepreneurship. The term loan agreement will allow DreamSpring to provide microloans to small business owners and LMI entrepreneurs as they start or grow their businesses across 10 shared states in DreamSpring and Woodforest's national footprints: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina, and Texas. The agreement between DreamSpring and Woodforest also strengthens the teams' vision to expand peer networks across their shared footprint to provide more resources for small business owners. For instance, in South Dallas, both organizations have embraced the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC) acclaimed Dallas REACh initiative, aimed at increasing LMI access to capital. Woodforest facilitated DreamSpring's connection to the monthly Dallas REACh roundtable, bringing together banks, CDFIs, and community stakeholders and leaders. This collaboration has resulted in a greater network of support in South Dallas, enriching the local small business ecosystem. One South Dallas-based small business owner who has felt the life-changing impact of capital is Taylor Symoné. Her small day spa business offers beauty and hair treatments, therapeutic post-operative care, massages, and facials. When she was first getting started, Taylor remembers calling about 15 financial institutions and feeling frustrated every time by the paperwork needed for a small loan, as well as rigid requirements for only helping businesses with at least two years of operational history. DreamSpring was different. Taylor has since repaid three DreamSpring loans to fuel her business growth and create even more opportunities for her family. "I'm really big on generational wealth," says Taylor. "I like to teach my kids about being their own boss, being the star of their own show, and learning and understanding that you can create your own passageway — you just have to want to." For 30 years, DreamSpring has developed small business training and a range of loan products to meet the needs of entrepreneurs like Taylor. Today, DreamSpring offers credit-building small business loans, lines of credit, SBA 7(a) loans, and commercial real estate loans in 27 states to level the playing field by bridging credit and knowledge gaps that hinder economic mobility. About DreamSpring DreamSpring is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) lender dedicated to accelerating the economic inclusion and strength of underserved communities. Founded in 1994, the organization provides rapid access to capital and customized wrap-around support to the most vulnerable small business owners in 27 states, focusing on communities including people of color, women, low- to moderate-income earners, people with disabilities, and start-ups. To date, DreamSpring has issued more than 48,796 loans totaling over $538 million to small businesses that support an estimated 65,138 jobs. About Woodforest National Bank Celebrating over 40 years of community banking service, Woodforest National Bank has successfully stood among the strongest community banks in the nation, proudly offering outstanding customer service since 1980. Woodforest currently operates over 760 branches in 17 states across the United States and is an Outstanding CRA rated institution.

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