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The Power of Human Connection in Content: Insights for Today's Marketers

In Conversation with Wendy Lieber

In this episode of E-coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviewed Wendy Lieber, CEO and Co-Founder at ContentBacon, Located in Davie, Florida. Wendy shares insights into ContentBacon’s formation in 2014, addressing the challenge of maintaining valuable digital content. Highlighting the shift to content that adds value and aligns with a company’s culture, Wendy emphasizes leadership involvement in storytelling and understanding the target audience. She advocates for a quality-focused, long-term approach to content creation and discusses the role of AI in efficiency but underscores the irreplaceable human touch in crafting unique content. Wendy concludes with insights into creating irresistible content and a rapid-fire round covering various topics. The discussion centers on the strategic importance of content in digital marketing, evolving audience expectations, and the delicate balance between AI-driven efficiency and human creativity.

The companies that understand the content and the power of content and how it touches everything and it’s part of your culture are the ones that I think win in the marketplace.

Wendy Lieber
CEO and Co-Founder at ContentBacon

Hey, hi, everyone. Welcome to your show, E-Coffee with Experts. This is Ranmay here, your host for today’s episode. Today we have Wendy, who is the CEO and co-founder at ContentBacon with us. Hey, Wendy.

Hi there.

Wendy, before we move forward and pick your brains on SEO content, why don’t you help us understand more about your journey, how ContentBacon was formed, and what you guys specialize in? Then we can take it forward from there on.

Perfect. Thank you for having me. As you mentioned, I’m the CEO and co-founder of ContentBacon. We launched the company in the fall of 2014 and officially got going in 2015. It’s been a wonderful journey. The reason we started ContentBacon was my partner and I both had other companies. I had more of a strategic marketing, boutique consulting type company. It was a great business and I was doing very well. But it was a challenging company for me to scale. That’s what I was interested in. I wasn’t just interested in owning a business. I was interested in building a business that could run without me. I was struggling with how to turn this very boutique agency model that was very dependent on me into a scalable model. I uncovered that no matter what type of company I was working with, whether they were on the small startup side or a larger company, they were all struggling with how to keep up with content. As digital platforms became more and more important and having a consistent presence was vital to look alive, companies just were not prepared on how internally to make that happen.

It sparked an idea in me to create content subscriptions so that these companies could pick and choose what they wanted to do every month and then rest easy knowing that it was going to be done, that they didn’t have to worry about it, they didn’t have to check on it, but that their digital presence was staying up to date and alive. That’s how ContentBacon was birthed, and we’ve been on a very rapid growth trajectory ever since.

Lovely. Quite a journey. Wendy, could you take us back to the beginning of your journey in content marketing in particular? How did you get into this field and how has your perspective evolved over the years?

I think our original goal was to help companies show up more prominently and more significantly so that when their prospects were searching for them or maybe just checking them out because they had been referred to them, their digital presence told a compelling story. It was going from websites and your website being more just a digital brochure and your social media being just a place where you post random what I ate for lunch today too, how do I make sure that the content on my digital platforms is helping my prospects, solving a problem for them? I’m making them better in some way. That’s really how we’ve always approached content. I have a big belief, I still have it today, and I don’t think this has changed much every company has an amazing story to tell. Most are usually doing it very poorly or not at all. That’s because they’re busy working in the business and they don’t think about the website or what’s going on with their social media, or are they outsourcing it to an intern or someone who has no experience? The companies that understand the content and the power of content and how it touches everything and it’s part of your culture are the ones that I think win in the marketplace, create a very strong unique selling proposition, and create a valuable asset.

Lovely. Very rightly mentioned, a lot of companies give it to social media. They have the social media interns doing a lot of content work for them and they expect results out of those interns, merely just out of college or doing summer internships during the break. People who take it seriously, like you mentioned, because that is something that represents your own story. You need to take care of it and know how you want to be represented and how you want to be represented rather than the online space. That is where probably content comes into the picture. Any experts, let’s say, an agency or hiring resources who are experts in this particular domain really helps, rather than giving it out to interns or people who are not so experienced in this particular space.

100%. Yeah, because leadership is really what drives the story. Often, it’s the founder, depending on what type of company it is. But if leadership isn’t involved in communicating the story to the world, then no one beneath is going to be able to be effective. Bringing in someone who might be savvy at social media and understand all the different available tools is very different than working with someone who understands what creates content, what creates connection, and what creates that audience wanting to know more, and do more. It’s two very distinct skill sets.

Absolutely. And Wendy, you are an expert in generating awareness through content. It’ll be great if we can elaborate on some key elements that make content a powerful tool for creating brand awareness given today’s competitive landscape that we are all in.

Absolutely. Yeah, I think a lot of people have the general perception that there’s too much content out there. It’s overwhelming. I don’t necessarily want to participate in adding more. I think there’s something to that, but I think that to me, what makes content valuable is when it’s useful and when you’re thinking about your target audience and what’s going to be useful to them. Maybe the audience might be smaller, but if you’re providing value and thinking about what problems they have, what opportunities they may be missing out on, and you approach it from that mindset of, how can I make sure I’m adding value? Then your audience will want to read it, want to engage with it, want to view it. If you’re just putting out content for the sake of putting out content because it’s easy to do through different AI tools, hey, I can create 1,000 blogs in 10 minutes. Sure, you can, but is that adding value? I think the challenge today for companies is not to get sucked into the, oh, let me just do more content because now all these tools make it easy. I think the opportunity today is even greater for those companies who take the time to understand what is their audience dealing with.

And how can I be that go-to expert, that go-to resource that’s going to make their life easier versus just putting more stuff out there that’s what everyone else is doing? Distinguishing from generic content to content that only you can do because your company or you, as the brand of the company, have that knowledge that no one else has, and you can’t get it from search engines or AI tools.

Wendy, you have been in this space for quite some time now. Now, as you mentioned, AI has taken this particular space by storm since last year. It has been a year to ChatGPT now. Apart from AI, or including let’s say, how have you seen the expectations and demands of the audiences change in terms of the content that they engage with? Because during the last 10 years, this particular industry has boomed like anything. There’s a lot of content these days, like you mentioned, on social media. How do you feel that the audience’s perspective has changed over time? And then how do you also, at ContentBacon or your team adapt to these shifts in audience preferences in your content creation process for your clients?

Sure. I think that the biggest thing that most companies want when they’re investing in anything and content being one of them is they want that ROI. They want to know that, hey, if I’m investing in this, I want to see that it works. I think that can be, listen that makes sense. That’s what everyone wants. We’re in business to make money. But I think looking at that initially is the wrong lens. I think you’ve got to look at content as a long-term game, and you’ve got to be willing to give before you get. I think what we’ve seen change is companies want everything cheaper and faster. That’s not going to get you what you want. That’s not going to get you results. What’s going to get you results is taking the time to create content that’s high quality, engages, and provides value. And that often takes time or ROI isn’t necessarily revenue coming in the door immediately, but it is you’re growing your audience, you’re growing your database, you’re engaging with your community, you’re seeing activity, you’re getting information. Also, the process of creating content for your company, helps your company be better because, again, everyone wants everything like this.

Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Those companies that take the time to make sure that they understand what value we add. You may need to shift your offering because what you’re offering today is no longer connecting with your audience. And oftentimes, doing content is the way that starts to unravel and you start to realize, wow, we need to innovate. It’s time for us to come up with some new offerings, some new products, and some new ways to communicate. It’s really when you invest in content and storytelling and talking about what you do, it forces you as a company to be introspective, to be aligned as a company, and to be better. I think it makes companies so much better that value the impact and the influence their content can have because they’re really speaking about it from the heart and not just, let me just try to reach more people and blast a bunch of people. We are all on the receiving end of that content. I spend a good portion of my mornings.
Just deleting 100 things because I can just tell it will not be meaningful content for me.

Very true. Then when there is this concept of irresistible content, what is your take on it?

Yeah, I think it in some ways is simple. It’s adding value to your audience. The first step is to understand your audience. You’d be surprised, maybe you wouldn’t. When I ask my prospect or talk to a business, Tell me about your ideal customer, your buyer persona. What’s important to them? What are they like? What are they dealing with? A lot of companies don’t know. The way to create irresistible content is to first understand your audience and understand what they’re dealing with and how what you do could potentially help them, and then create content from that perspective. I think a very easy… I say this all the time. It’s so simple, but it’s so effective. Spending time internally talking about what are the frequently asked questions that your prospects are typically asking you or what you wish they would ask you. That can create a whole lot of ideas for what type of content you can create that is irresistible. It always goes back to your audience and makes sure that what you’re creating is from the lens of what they would find valuable, not what you find valuable. I think the other thing to think about is we’re not just talking about content to create prospects, to create leads.

There’s also, what are you doing for your current customers? Often companies forget that they have customers who may refer them, and may buy more if they knew. A lot of times companies forget to communicate the additional services that they may provide or ask for referrals. Even your internal team, companies that have larger teams, and a lot of companies are working remotely, may not have the opportunity to talk to their team consistently, so using content to build culture. It’s not just leads. It also current customers, past customers, employees, and referral sources. Thinking about that then what are you doing to connect with each of those audiences consistently? There’s usually a gold mine there that’s untouched because companies are just focused on new versus nurturing what they already have.

Absolutely. In a lot of businesses, unfortunately in this industry, content also is looked at for what ROI is there if we do so, which is so unfortunate because a lot of content at the end is also educational wherein we want to put out content just to make people aware not only about your brand, which is part of your strategy but also about, let’s say, the niche, let’s say, your industry, let’s say, any product of yours, which is, let’s say, generic. By the by, let’s say, you pitch your brand, but it’s more about informational content or educational content for the industry or your customer segment at large. Then probably you pitch in your brand with a strategy out there. Let’s not look at direct ROI, for example.

No, I 100 % agree. I think it’s so important to do that. We have a saying internally; an educated customer is our best customer. A lot of times, a prospect will perhaps want to try to do it themselves and they’ll research. If you are the source for really great educational content on how they could do it themselves if they want to, then you build trust with them. We would like to create content too that isn’t what everyone else will create. We’ll say what others won’t because we’re not trying to protect anything. Listen, if you want to go and create your content and be your content resource, here’s how to go do it. Because most companies, when they determine what it’s going to take to do it, they’re like, no, thank you. Let me outsource it. Because this is what we do. It’s the only thing we do. We’re not trying to do 100 different things. This is what we do. We’re very good at it. We’re very effective at it. It’s outsourcing. We have that saying also, what gets outsourced gets done. We don’t try to do everything. If we have a good partner, it’s let’s use them.

I think that educational content is such a strong piece of a marketing plan.

Great, Wendy. The last one I cannot let you go without asking this one, the growing prevalence of AI-driven tools in marketing. It all started with content folks fearing for their jobs to know them using it probably the most versus anyone else in any other segment. How do you balance the human touch and content creation while harnessing the efficiency and insights that an AI tool or AI technologies provide?

Absolutely. I think it just depends on the type of content that’s being created. There is some basic foundational content that most companies need and AI can be a very effective tool to create the baseline. We’re big believers. Everything’s got to have a human editor because you just have to fact-check formatting. That’s just so important. That hasn’t gone away. But the only thing AI will do today is regurgitate some version of what’s already been done. Again, there is a time for that. We work with some companies where it’s very informational and they’re just wanting to make sure that their audience gets that content. AI can be a powerful tool to help us create that quicker with, again, the human editor. But I think the myth there is, what are you creating that’s new and innovative and that hasn’t already been said before? Ai is not going to do that. And thought leadership type content that is provocative, content that’s controversial, that’s also very irresistible content when done correctly. I think there’s more of an opportunity today for great copywriters, great content writers who are willing to challenge and think and contemplate ideas before just spitting them out there.

I think this prevalence of so many companies using AI tools to create a lot of generic content has created, on the flip side, the opportunity for those companies willing to think, contemplate, and be innovative to create content that is captivating, irresistible, and more of that human connection. Because for me, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. If what we’re creating isn’t somehow impacting someone on the other side of the computer, then we’ve not done our job. We’re working on behalf of our customers to create a human connection. Maybe we’re going to get to the point where it’s just bots speaking to bots and bots doing transactions, and that could be. But what we’re in the human game, we’re in the human connection game, and we use words, images, and sounds to create that human connection. Ai is not going to, right now, because I will never say never, maybe I’m AI not going to do that right now.

Yeah, absolutely. As you said, the humanization part at the end of, let’s say, content creation by AI tool, human-edited, as we all say, is very crucial because the content is going to get consumed by humans, like we were discussing in the green room, to trigger that decision making. While we’re using it to achieve better efficiency, human aspect. Content writers or let’s say, copywriters, who have started using AI and have become more tech-savvy, have landed higher-paying jobs. This is how it started them getting scared of the jobs in the first place, let’s say, last December, around this time of the year. It’s about adapting to change the name of the game.

Like you mentioned I resonate with that thought process. That’s a human game. We are there. We’ll still be there. While we never said we don’t say never, but yeah, we are still in the game. I hope we will always stay in the game. But yeah, you have to use it as a weapon in your Armor versus thinking otherwise.

I think it’s a tool similar to CRM, sales automation. I think it’s a more powerful tool in some ways. Automation tools are a wonderful support for company needs where, again, if you’ve got the right content, you can set up the triggers and automation can do things so much easier than if you’re relying on a human being. I think we’re always trying to balance where using technology makes the experience better and where using technology lessens the experience. We’re always trying to determine because there are many instances where using technology makes the experience better for the person on the other end. That’s always, to me, the lens I’m looking at it through versus, Can I do this cheaper? Can I do this faster? It’s like, how much faster can we do things? It’s like, We’re already 24/7. You get a text if you don’t respond in 30 seconds. It’s like, how much faster do we want this world to go? To me, that’s not the part that excites me. The part that excites me about AI and all these tools is providing a better experience that creates a better result. If I can do that with AI or whatever, I’m going to be looking at it.

Absolutely. Can’t agree more. Great. It has been a brilliant conversation, Wendy. But before I finally let you go; we’ll play a quick rapid-fire. I hope you’re ready for it.

Okay, I’m ready.

Perfect. You’re my last Google search, Wendy.

My last Google searches. Oh, my goodness.

Feel free to look that up. It’s open book.

I was looking this morning for the definition of a brand because I. Yes, What’s the best definition of a brand?

Sure. Okay, great. Moving on to your celebrity crush?

Oh, it would be. Oh, my goodness, his name just escaped me. I’m looking at him from Silver Linings playbook, Bradley Cooper.

Okay, great. What did you do with your first paycheck, Wendy? First paycheck of your life.

What did I do with my first paycheck? I probably went out and had a party with my friends.

That was an honest one. Great. All right, the last one will not grill you any further. Where do we find Wendy on Friday evenings after office or work? Work, rather, because you guys operate remotely.

Yes, I have a great Friday ritual. I go and I do an infrared sauna and a cold plunge. That’s how I end my week. Then usually after that, you’ll find me somewhere having a great dinner, great drinks, and just chilling out.

Lovely. Great, Wendy it has been a great conversation. Appreciate you taking out time to do this with us here. Thank you so much.

Thank you.

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