Blog

[Video] The Wisdom Worker in the Digital Experience (Robert Rose) - MuraCon 2017

June 27, 2017

Transcript

What I want to talk about is something that's near and dear to my heart. Normally, when you come up and you're going to do a keynote, you will talk about like examples in the industry, customers that are doing this, right.

But what I want to do is a little different today. What I want to do and what I talked with Sean a little bit about was doing something a little different, which was to talk a little bit about what you guys are doing in your career. Just by show of hands, the marketing people show me your hands. How many marketing people do we have? Oh, fantastic. Nice to see you. Then developers, like the folks who came for the bits and bytes and the code? Awesome. The rest of you are here for free Danish, I'm assuming and all of that.

Yeah, so what I want to do is I want to talk a little bit about this idea of where we are with content and technology and how the two are truly meeting--truly intersecting--where we actually work in the world.

Did you guys know that the shipwreck is an invention? The shipwreck is an invention, so is the plane crash, by the way. The plane crash, the shipwreck--these are both inventions. That idea was brought forward by a guy by the name of Paul Virilio. Paul Virilio is a French cultural-ist, sociologist, philosopher. I believe that is the job title for every French person I've ever met. He had a really interesting idea when he talked about inventing the shipwreck. What he said was, when technology invades culture--when we have technology that comes into the culture--we have to realize that when we invent the technology we inevitably invent the disaster resulting from the technology. You invent the plane. You invent the plane crash. You invent the ship. You inevitably invent the shipwreck. You invent a Ben Affleck, you get Batman versus Superman. It's just inevitable. You're going to get these kinds of things happening.

I think it's a really wonderful metaphor for where we are with marketing and technology and content today, because technology has enabled us to do so much over the last 17 years. We've scaled so high with our ability to do digital, to personalize--to do all of these wonderful things--and yet, as marketers, as communicators, as storytellers, in a weird way it's made us almost lazy, because now we sweat and toil over the smallest things, making sure that every graph is going up and to the right. We make sure that we have more Twitter followers day-by-day. We make sure that we have more Facebook likes day-by-day.

We're solving small problems and not really solving the larger issues of creating powerful and informative and valuable experiences for our customers. That's what I want to talk about today is where we are meeting--where technologists are meeting marketers--specifically in content and technology, and really where we can start to drive different kinds of value for ourselves for our career, certainly for our customers. I'll give examples of how that's getting done today--but certainly for ourselves. What does our future look like? What do we really do in the business?

It all comes down really with both technology and in marketing to these three little words--return on investment--both in content, marketing, technology. Anybody tired of these three little words? Any of my marketing people out there tired of return on investment? Yes, thank you. Yes. I am tired. I'm as tired of hearing return on investment as I am email server and Russian hacker. I am definitely tired of hearing these three little words, because quite frankly we don't even really know what kind of investment we're making today. We're looking at different things and trying different technologies and different means of getting our return on investment, but what is it we're actually building?

What kind of investor are we going to actually be, because are we going to be a day trader where we're actually looking for returns and results in minutes and hours and days, or are we a long term value investor where we're actually getting meaningful investment and building an asset that grows in value over time? It's a different investment model. So many of us aren't getting the R because, quite frankly, we ain't getting any I. It's hard to get the R when you don't get the I. Do more with less we were told. Get more exponential R out of the I that we're giving you--but we're not getting any I, so how are we expected to deliver any R there? It's a new game these days. It's a new game.

What I want to talk about is this idea with marketing and technology of wisdom and really evolving into an idea of wisdom--both of us, whether we're developers and we spend our day in front of green screens looking at code, or whether we're storytellers trying to figure out the content that's going to compel our customer to actually do something, or somewhere in between where we're building these experiences, we're managing these experiences, in a way that's impactful for both our business and the customers we're trying to reach.

Let me first start with marketing, since that's where I come from, and let's talk about this new wisdom that we're developing in marketing. Really, when we think about it, marketing's job is really simple. We have a very, very simple idea behind what we do in marketing. We simply create content that we want to maximize the reach of that content in front of our consumers, our audiences, and we want to minimize the frequency with which we have to do so, so that it creates an impact on that consumer to have them make a decision in our favor. It's that simple. That's what we've been doing forever and ever and ever and ever. That's what we do as marketers. We try to maximize the reach of the things that we create, and we try to minimize the frequency with which we have to create it.

On the screen here you'll see it's the beginning of an ad that's not playing, because we don't have technology, but basically this ad is one of the most iconic advertisements in the world. How many of you are familiar with Apple's iconic 1984 ad that ran in 1984? Yeah, so a good number of you. It is one of the most iconic award-winning advertisements that's ever run. Now, those of you who are familiar with it, can you tell me how many times it ran? One time. Twice, actually. Thank you very much. That's the actual correct answer--twice. It ran one time on New Year's Eve in 1983, so that it would qualify for a CLEO award, which it subsequently won, by the way. Then it ran one more time in the third quarter of the Super bowl in 1984--one time. It is now one of the most impactful advertisements and pieces of content that we reference in the marketing and advertising world.

That's the brass ring--creative piece of content that only has to appear one time to completely change the course of your business. That's an amazing thing, but it really speaks to a different time here. It speaks to the fact that our content investment--the investment that we make in content and advertising and the technology that supports it--is solely based upon our current relationship with the media. Whatever current relationship we have with the media is really the way that we make our investment choices. That's a really interesting thing as we start to look at where we are today and where we're going in terms of the kinds of investments that we're going to make.

What do you do? What do you do--depending on where you put the emphasis on that word. What do you do? What do you do? What do you do about this? What can we do about this? What can we do with looking at this? Well, what I'll contend is that as marketers, your future--the future of your career, the future of the businesses that you work for--does not depend upon your ability to create smart copy and content and be driven by technology. It does not. Your future does not. It evolves. It is about evolving your business through this evolution of the relationship with our media and becoming something different.

Your ability to move the business is what's going to actually further your career. It is not going to be about creating more content. It is not going to be about putting more adjectives in front of nouns. It is not going to be about writing smarter and smarter copy and more bullet points in an email. It is going to be about your ability to move the business. How can you move the business, because quite frankly the ability for us to move the business is going to be the only thing that differentiates us in the careers that we want to have as marketing people.

Now, I could be wrong. I could be wrong on this. I'm not, but I could be. I could be wrong on this. I may be wrong about the future, but I've been looking at this for some time, and it feels like we're moving into something different here. This is something I call Robert's digital content value curve. Yeah, it's copyright, trademarked. Your mileage may vary. When I start talking about the value of content--and, yeah, we talk about content marketing, but let's just talk about the value of content strategically in the business and look at it historically over the last few years--when we look pre-digital, content value was quite high. Why? It was hard to make. It was actually a considered purchase to make a printout. It was actually a considered purchase to make something on television.

When we talk about content marketing, when we look back--and of course the content marketing institute will contend that content marketing has been around 100+ years. It's nothing new. We've been doing it forever. We've been creating content forever. The difference is, is that when we look at content marketing specifically and the kind of content we were creating, we really created it as a loyalty packet. It was created to drive loyalty. Why? Because this was an audience we could reach--our customers. We knew where we lived. We knew where we worked. We knew how to deliver this thing to the customers we were trying to reach. We knew their address.

We knew how to reach them, so what did we do? If we were an association, we sent you a loyalty magazine. If we were an automobile dealership, we sent you the auto dealership magazine. If we were a non-profit, we maybe sent you the weekly or yearly update in terms of a magazine or some sort of loyalty appreciation magazine to make you feel better about the purchase that you made or the service that you actually subscribed to. That's what we did.

Then a really interesting thing happened. As digital started to enter into the picture, we as marketers, as companies, as people, made a decision. We went, "You know what? We don't need this anymore. We can actually create content ourselves. It's democratized. We have technology now. We have CMS systems that can help us publish. We can publish, publish, publish--long tail of search--all of that. We can absolutely publish."

I worked with a company that had seven products, and they had 57,000 pages on their website--57,000 pages on their website. They had 10,000 PDFs. We are a PDF-creating machine nowadays. We love creating PDFs--PDFs everywhere. The interesting thing about this company with the 10,000 PDFs is that they actually said, "You know what? We're going to do a rebrand. We're going to change our logo. We're going to change the colors and everything." Guess how many PDFs they went and changed? All 10,000 of them. Then somebody said, "You know we should probably look and see how many of those PDFs have actually been read." Four had actually been read--ever--not even read--downloaded, so they didn't even know if they got read.

That's where we are today--where we publish scads of content. Why? Because we have the big red publish button. Of course, publish it--the long tail. The search crew said if we're not publishing everyday, we're going to not be found by Google. That's what we did pre-digital, and it became a marketing tactic. We got on social media. What did we do? We gave it to our nephew or our niece or that kid down the street. Maybe you were the kid down the street in the early 2000s that did a My Space strategy. Anybody here do a My Space strategy? Yeah. Blinking lights and blinking GIFs, and it was awesome. We did My Space. We created all of this wonderful content in order to be found.

Then all of a sudden something happened as it started to evolve. We started getting good at it. Some companies started to get really good at it and started to base a strategy around it. As we entered into the 2012, 2013, 2014, we started to see content and content marketing become a big thing, creating experiences that go beyond just selling our customers something, but actually creating digital experiences for our customers started to get some traction. It started to become a bit of a marketing strategy. We worked on that. We worked on that very hard. It started to work a little bit. That's where I'll contend we are today.

Now, where I contend we'll go tomorrow, where we are going literally as we speak tomorrow, is as we start to try and evolve our businesses into content as a business strategy. As I've been saying lately, content is not a marketing strategy. It is a business strategy that marketing people and technology people happen to perform. It is a business strategy that marketing people happen to perform, and that is the change of it. I'll tell why, because as we move forward and it goes from being business strategy into business model, that will become incumbent upon us to be there for that. Maybe that seems far fetched. Content as a business model? Something that actually drives part of our business? We're not in the content business. We make widgets. We make candy bars. We're a non-profit. We don't do that.

Well, take a look at just a couple of things here. In the left-hand side what you see are three different brands. One of them is one of the sponsors of this conference. There are three different brands here acting as trusted advisor by creating digital experiences that drive value for their customer. The really interesting thing there is what L'Oréal is doing. L'Oréal sells makeup. Of course, they have acquired different properties over the ages. One of them is makeup.com. Now, makeup.com offers products that they don't sell--that is offered not by necessarily their competitors but by other companies that sit adjacent to what they do--so moisturizers and creams and those kinds of things--that they recommend and link to on their site that go outside of there. It's not just about them. It's about actually bringing in other products, other companies' products, into their mix.

AdobeCMO.com--a wonderful, wonderful example of a digital experience that's driving incredible value for Adobe. The interesting thing with them is that with 25,000 subscribes--senior level marketers, CMOs, VPs, directors, etcetera--they've got direct access and permission to talk with all of those marketing people at Adobe. The interesting thing there is that they offered. They have articles being written by the VP of marketing at OpenText or by Mirror or by wonderful other companies that are not in many ways competitive with what Adobe does, but they're not there to sell anything. They're there to create valuable experiences. They're there to become a trusted advisor for marketers, because they know that once they get into a situation, they hope that their product will ultimately rise above the noise.

Lastly, I just want to mention Arrow Electronics. Arrow Electronics--if you asked me who the biggest media company is in electronics, I'll tell you it's not a media company. It's Arrow Electronics--Arrow Electronics, one of the biggest manufacturers of electronics components in the world. They've actually just purchased, acquired, 16 magazines and websites from Hurst and about 10 magazines and websites from--it's CMI's parent company--UBM. They now have 26 different magazines and websites--more than 3 million subscribers to all of the different magazines and websites.

If you go to those magazines and websites now, you'll see that 90% of the advertising are for Arrow products, Arrow services, Arrow events. They have become a media company with all of those wonderful magazines and websites and events that they throw. They're making money from it because the other 10% that they're selling to other companies. They're selling advertising, sponsorships, event space, to their competitors and to non-competitors because they're competent in their ability to become a media company to deliver.

On the right-hand side you start to see an internal--what's going on with marketing is becoming media. Every one of those companies that you see listed on the right there have and/or building an in-house content studio. Three of them are doing so to do so at a profit. Mondelez--Red Bull--its content in its marketing--so by the way, I'm required by law to mention Red Bull, so Red Bull--there you go. I've contractually met my obligation--but the interesting about Red Bull is that they actually make money. If you ask Red Bull publishing house, they'll tell you that they're not in the marketing arm of Red Bull. They're actually a company that makes money. They sell advertising. They sell sponsorships. They sell subscriptions to their print magazine. They're there to make money as a content experience, and also be the main marketing arm of the soft drink.

Mondelez is doing theirs through partnerships. Pepsi is actually building an entire in-house content studio in Manhattan where they will sell their services--the ability to go shoot video, create all sorts of wonderful content, create film content--for other brands. The revenue from that will drive and grow their ability to create content for their own brands like Frito-Lay and Pepsi. They're operating a content studio as the head of the studio there at Pepsi has said, "We're there to be like any other Hollywood studio. We're there to create content and do so at a profit." Content as a business model is a lot shorter in coming than you might think.

But let's take a step back and let's look at evolved owned media for just a second. Let's look at some of these experiences, because how technology drives these and how data drives these things is in many ways something that can inform the way that we manage technology. Maybe you knew Johnson & Johnson owned Baby Center. Maybe you don't know Johnson & Johnson owns Baby Center, but they do. You won't find Johnson & Johnson's logo anywhere on babycenter.com. Four and a half million moms and some dads subscribe to Baby Center, and they reach 40 million people every month with their content. They have scads of data. They have wonderful data--4.5 million subscribers of people who want to give them that data, yet, they know for a fact. You go why would they do that? Why would they actually create this thing?

They're not selling anything of their products. There's no in-house advertising to their products. They do sell advertising, by the way. This is a marketing platform that actually makes them money. Why would they do this? Well, with the access to 4.5 million moms and some dads, they can give that over to their other marketing folks, and they get incredible intelligence out of that. They know for a fact, by the way, whether sleep through the night, sleep tonight, or sleep overnight, will resonate more with moms. Sleep through the night, by the way, is the winner, if you wanted to know. Although sleep, in general, for parents is pretty much the winner there.

They also know for a fact that moms plan their baby's first birthday at 10 months, which is incredibly valuable information for their product managers who are looking to launch a new product. The data that they get out of that powered by the technology that they're creating enables them to be a more competent organization. It is a customer experience that's developed to help them be smarter about the way they do everything else. It has nothing to do with them selling more product, except that it does. It's all about them creating value for their customers.

Indium--this is the part where I get to say you can't out-boring me. I allow boring you all day long, because Indium makes soldering. I know more about soldering now than I ever wanted to know, but they make solder. I didn't know this. There were 17 different flavors of solder, but they have and they do. They have these 17, and they have an engineer that writes a blog for every single flavor of solder. It's called from one engineer to another. This is their content platform. It is a network of blogs. These guys are not a big company. These guys are not a huge organization, but they have 17 different blogs--one for every different flavor of solder, and they translate every single one of those into six different languages.

The technology around that and the network that they put is incredible to power 17 different blogs, translate it into 17 different languages. If you said who is the biggest media company in soldering, I would tell you it's not a media company. It's Indium. They're driving 700% more business, more leads, year-over-year using this program than anything else. It is now a physical event. They're now transformed it into a YouTube channel. It's an amazing process for winning a customer.

How about growing an advocate? One of my favorites here is TD Ameritrade--a financial services company. What TD Ameritrade is doing is really nothing short of remarkable. They actually acquired--and you will notice a theme here about the acquisition thing--they actually acquired a print magazine called Think Money magazine. What they did with Think Money magazine is that they started sending it to people who actually signed up for their services. If you are a TD Ameritrade platform, you go on and you sign up for TD Ameritrade--your trading velocity on average is one time per week.

What they found was, as they started sending you this print magazine over and over and over again, a few months after you started getting this magazine, your trading velocity went up to five times per week. Their VP of marketing has called it the best marketing investment they ever made. They quintupled their trading velocity from their customers by simply sending them a thought leadership in teaching you how to be a better investor. They have now transferred this into what they call their Ticker Tape digital experience, which is a mobile app, a blog, a digital magazine, that actually operates at the top of the funnel to actually get people interested in TD Ameritrade in the very beginning.

The question is, as you start thinking through these days, as you're sitting together here as marketers, developers, technology managers, software engineers--as you sit together, what is it we do? What do you do out there? What is it you're doing today? What is it we're actually doing? Let me now flip the switch and talk a little bit on the technology side. What are we doing on technology? How are we managing technology and creation of technology? Well, it's a really interesting thing.

One of my favorite things here is this--if any of you--and I have no doubt looking at the audience out here that many of you serve Reddit, so I know there are Reddit users out there--but one of the funny things on Reddit that you'll see a lot is laughing at the cop shows about the enhance feature. You watch the cop show CSI and all of that, and if they're looking at trying to solve some various crime and they're looking at the security camera footage that's grainy and black and white. The guy goes, "Enhance that. Roll it back five frames and enhance that." They go cho, cho, cho, cho, cho and they enhance it. He goes, "Now, sharpen it," and they sharpen it up. Now we can see in the reflection of the eyeball the murderer that actually killed the poor girl as she tried to exit the 7-11, and case solved, except it's real. It's actually real.

What you're looking at there on the screen--and I'm just going to delete this so that you can actually see it here, because it had all of these really cool builds and all of this stuff. It was awesome. This is actually real--what you're looking at. Two years ago in the UK they actually did an experiment with the high definition cameras that they have available to them now, and they actually took a picture of this guy and actually four people behind the camera. You're actually seeing them actually do visual identification on a guy through the reflection in the eyeball 30,000 times smaller than they actually appear. Technology is getting good. We're actually getting beyond our jokes now in terms of what we can actually do. There's a really fascinating thing. Technology is outpacing our ability to actually deal with it even.

There's this other wonderful thing in medicine that's really happening right now. A quick story--in the early 2000s my dad--and my dad has passed away now--but in the early 2000s he went in for surgery--a typical sort of surgery. I know there's no such thing as typical surgery when you're that old, but he goes in for a typical surgery. It's one of his joints was messed up, and he had to get surgery. A couple of weeks he gets out of the hospital. Everything goes fine. He gets out of the hospital and he goes back and he goes back for a checkup. They do a MRI on him. The doctor notices something. He notices a blood clot. The doctor says, "You've got a blood clot there." They consult with the physician and another physician and another physician, and they say, "You know what? We're going to give you some blood thinner for this blood clot." He says, "Okay." They give him the blood thinner, and it all went fine.

That's fine, but there's more interesting thing, because this is actually something that's starting to happen more and more and more now as the detection and technology gets better in medicine. It's actually quite the interesting ethical dilemma in medicine right now. It's something they call the incidental finding, which is the technology that we're using is actually now starting to show up. There is a really interesting debate going on about whether or not they should actually treat these incidental findings. For example, they find the tiniest of sand grain tumors in an old woman's brain. She's 74 years old, and they find this tumor that will probably most likely never ever, ever bother her in the remainder of her life, but should they tell her? Should they risk setting her in a panic about the fact that she has a sand grain-sized brain tumor in her head or do they let it go?

It's a really interesting dilemma going on--this incidental finding and the ethics of medicine, but here what I think is interesting is that how many of our technology capabilities now have given us and the marketing people that we work with to be basically the incidental finders of everything. You give me Google analytics and I'll tell you a story about anything you'd like me to tell you a story about. You give me the data, and I'll tell you anything you'd like me to say. We go into the data and we try and find the stories that make us look great, that make us look, that build a business case for something. We're trying to build a business case by looking at the pours of data that we find from the amazing technology that we have, and we can find stories to tell ourselves. We can find the incidental findings and do sometimes interesting things and sometimes quite wasteful things as we try and deal with technology.

The interesting thing to me is--and when we start looking at that--is how we've evolved over this. Let's not forget the computer used to be a job title. This is an actual photograph from the NASA computer room in the early 1950s. First of all, the thing I love about this is that you'll notice they're all women, by the way. If you have not seen the movie, it's just an absolutely fantastic movie, but the wonderful thing here is that the computer was a job title.

As we started to evolve technology, things started to happen and we started to change with it--our ability to have jobs--the kind of jobs we have--and where we are today we're even related to that, because in 1974, this was the headline that graced The New York Times. The headline was basically "Is it a Boon for Secretaries--Or an Automated Ghetto? The automated ghetto that they were talking about was actually word processing and office automation. In 1974 this was huge. There were actually people who were word processors who would process words, who would sit at special computers that did just word processing. This is where many of our technical SGNL and all of those things evolved out of some of those early word processors and what they did as a very special.

There were rooms set up--word processing rooms--where if you were a marketing person and you wanted to go down and get something word processed, you would go down to that room and you would actually ask the person to word process it for you, and they would do so. This article was asking how this was going to evolve because as computers started to come online, these word processors were starting to take over. In other words, the computers were actually enabling the democratization of that--the enabling of the people to actually create their own documents, their own things. Was it going to be this wonderful career path for people who found themselves in a secretarial pool and now were in the word processing pool, but/or was it going to be something different than that?

This is where we are today. Now, the technology that we have can create content. I'm going to try and play this. I don't know that it's going to work, but I'm going to try and play this because this was something that I actually created specific for this conference. I actually had an artificial intelligence BOT--oh, awesome, even better--artificial intelligence BOT that went out. I'm going to play you this. Hopefully, it will play. I call this Muracon today. I know it sounds like I'm a fan of electronic 1980s music. I had the article from a television spot create this wonderful 1985 time. This was all created by a robot. All I did was put in the parameters and the artificial intelligence, and it basically built this song for me. It's awesome, isn't it? Isn't it just the most awesome song you've ever heard?

Here's the thing. After the artificial intelligence BOT creates this piece of music for you, you can choose whether you want to become the author of it. You can actually buy the copyright from this company. You can buy the copyright so you can actually--now, if we don't think that this is going to do interesting things for music composition, we're wrong. It's going to change music composition in many ways. Certainly, it will change the idea of music composition for music that is not necessarily something that important for us--where we just need background music, where we're looking for elevator music, where we're looking for things where we don't want to pay a licensing to artists. As we see technology start to evolve into that, that's a really interesting thing for what we're looking at, as marketers, as technologists.

As we start looking at content and technology, the democratization of that, we actually know all about this. Photography has been democratized to the point where photography--these poor guys. yeah, they got a gig today, but everybody can do this now. Everybody can just stick up a DSRL camera, right? You guys don't have any special talents at this, right? Anybody can stick up a piece of music. We just open up Garage Band and we now create music. Anybody can write content now. Anybody can create a blog. Anybody can create a YouTube channel.

With the technology being so democratized, we have basically democratized content creation with technology to such a point that we've really devalued content altogether. If we don't think that that's happened in our business with the advent of technology--content management technology--the ability to automate and create content automatically, repurpose content automatically, do all of these wonderful things automatically--then we're kidding ourselves because it's affected us too. We now publish 57,000 pages. Why? Because we can.

We now personalize a site that has no business being personalized. Why? Because somebody told us that personalization was a big deal and we needed to go do that, so we'll spend six years building and customizing our CMS. Why? Because somebody said at a marketing conference personalization was a big deal, so let's spend a bunch of time recoding all of our pages so that they're personalized against the four attributes that we have. Yeah.

We're really working with technology in a commoditized way because of the content. We now focus on data that we're gathering in giant mounds--clicks, emails, form fills, email addresses, ZIP codes, geo tagging. If I see one more demo--I hope there's not a demo here today that does this--if I see one more demo that optimizes my shopping cart by whether it's raining in Idaho, I'm going to scream.

We look at this--like page views, personalization--we are now focused on this commoditized set of data where data drives everything that we're doing in the technology. We're not looking at the emotion behind the data. The emotional data is what I call it. Here is what I mean by that. When we look at data--when the machines look at data--we tend to look at it in a commoditized fashion, and data is a commodity for the machine. What I mean by that is in a retail sector--there's a great example of this. Pretend for a minute you're in a store and you're browsing luggage in a store, and you find a bag that is amazing--this new brand of bag. You just think it's amazing. You look at it and you're like, "I'm going to buy this bag."

You go up to the shopping and you buy the bag. You're not a local. This is some--I'm from Los Angeles. I'm in Sacramento and I find this bag, and it's amazing. I go up to the counter and I buy the bag. One scenario--the guy says, "Can I get your email address and your ZIP code before I ring you up here?" You're like--and let's say you care a little bit about your data--and you're like, "Okay. My name is SeanSpicer@gmail.com. Yeah, my ZIP code is 005793." How many? Was that five? Okay, that's five. Yeah. Correct. That's what you do.

That data goes into our CRM, goes into our database, goes into our marketing database. It is what is used to personalize all of these wonderful experiences that we're creating. That is what we are using right now. How many times have I looked at a marketing database from a B2B organization and 25% of it is MickeyMouse@gmail.com? My own personal favorite--the one I own--is GiveMeTheDamnWhitePaper@gmail.com. That's what our marketing database is these days. We're extracting this in a way. We're gathering the data, scraping the data from our customer.

Instead what if that operation went a little like this? As you walk up to the thing and the guy is ringing you up, and he's got a wonderful thing. There's maybe a little sign that actually says we have an email. He says, "Hey, can I join some email? I'm not local, and I really want to join your email database because I'd like to get more emails about what other bags you have and when you're going to have new products and stuff like that." I know that rarely happens, but when it does which data do we think is more valuable?--the one that was given with an emotion to say I want to hear more from you, or the data that was extracted because it was the command screen that you had to get through before you could actually ring the customer up? I'll dare say the latter. Humans are the people that can actually understand the difference in that interaction. That's one of the true values where we look at it.

If we start asking ourselves as we collect data and use data, as technologists--as we start looking at the ways to use data--we can ask why? Why did they give it to us? Can we create experiences that we can understand why they're giving it to us? As I like to say, in your digital experiences--your blogs, your resource centers--when you actually--if you're gating content--the one thing that drives the decisions for all marketing mankind--gating content--if you're having a debate in your organization right now of whether you should gate content or not gate content, you do not have a content strategy. You have a direct sales strategy in which you're trying to determine which pieces of content are worth extracting data from your customers. If you're arguing about it, you're pretty sure that they don't. If we can instead figure out how to develop experiences where customers want to give us the data, want to actually create the experience and look at--yes, page views, yes, personalization, ye--but use an infrastructure and a data collection process that is actually emotional in nature, we can start to differentiate ourselves as we start building the things.

What do you both do? As we come together, what do you both do in this situation? I was thinking and trying to figure out how these things come together lately. I was in the shower--I promise, not too much information here--and I'm thinking about this. What came back to me--so if any of you went to economics class, you'll be familiar with that curve. It's the marginal cost curve. The marginal cost curve, for those of you who didn't or skipped the economics class that day, basically really simple. On the left-hand axis you have cost. On the right you have output of product. Isn't it wonderful, by the way, where we are with content and technology today? As you output product, the cost goes down as you get good at it. As you get good at outputting product, the cost per widget goes down until it doesn't. You have to build a new factory. You have to install a new CMS. You have to do something that basically makes the cost rise.

Then you have your marginal revenue which is how much money you're making. The whole point is that if you can keep your marginal costs down below your marginal revenue, you make money. That's where the value is. The whole point of the marginal cost curve is to extend that thing out, to keep it below, or to raise the marginal revenue requisite with the cost, because that's what's going to have to happen in order for you to actually make money. I've looked at that and I went wow, that looks really familiar. That shape of that curve looks really familiar. I went oh my goodness gracious, that is actually the very, very same curve as we're looking here. The difference is when we start looking at this wall of anxiety of our CEOs, of the value, that is the marginal revenue. That is our marginal value.

What we're doing with content now and commoditized data and the technology that drives those experiences is we're actually operating underneath that wall of anxiety. As we start to move through and have content in the digital experiences we create become a business strategy--become something we can help evolve the business through--we are going to have to show value above that wall of anxiety line. You're going to have to get into the business of actually driving more value than just more leads in the top of the funnel. You just have to do it. Content marketing, content strategies, building digital experiences, is not cheaper than advertising. It is not. It will never be cheaper than advertising. Doing content well is more expensive than advertising. It is more expensive than SEO. It is more expensive, but it has the opportunity to drive exponentially more value.

There are only two things that we care about--revenue and cost. How much revenue am I making and how much does it cost me to get that revenue? This is where as both technologists and content practitioners and marketing people, we can drive value, both as you heard from Johnson & Johnson or you heard with TD Ameritrade in multiple parts of the funnel or you hear with Indium, we can drive value at both parts. It doesn't have to just be more visitors, more leads. It can actually be something different.

Where does this leave us? Well, it means we're in this together, as we start developing our careers, as you start developing where you want to go in your career as a developer, as a practitioner of content, or as a marketing person, because as we start looking at this, content as a strategic business opportunity or emotional data and how we sort of apply technology more broadly, it's not going to be a departmental job. It's not going to be something. There in the future there will be no such thing as a content marketer. There will be no such thing as a HTML developer. There will be no such thing as a digital marketing guru. These will all just be competencies within the business, as the technology evolves to a point where it basically gets subsumed into the business, and that feels weird. That's like oh, shit. Okay. That's anxiety-producing. That's different. That's fear. There's things. My job--are you saying my job could go? Maybe, maybe, maybe. I can be wrong. I could be wrong here about what's going to happen. I could be wrong in terms of what we're talking about.

Let me just read you a quote here. This is a wonderful quote. I love this. Basically, there has been a sharp rise in employment opportunities associated with a substantial increase for the need of content. This has given impetus to the development of technology for handling the ever growing volume. Is this sounding familiar? At the same time, the added amount of work has encouraged a number of people that they can find content-oriented jobs. That sounds like it could've been written yesterday or the day before yesterday or last year, but it was actually Ida Hoos, who was actually a social critic of this office automation development that happened in the 1950s and 1960s--in 1959, predicting that it was going to happen.

She actually ran a study where she looked at office automation, and she said in this office automation world, it's going to lead to the recentralization--basically, everything coming back together in the enterprise. Big businesses were going to basically subsume all of these different things into the business as a function here. They will change their operational model in order to adopt the new technology and the capabilities that it provides. What changed? What actually changed in that era as office automation started? Well, the forward-leaning technologists--they were actually the wonder kids, right. They actually absolutely--they built entire empires undercutting--basically saying, "We can do things better. We can do this thing." They built little empires over here. This is sounding familiar, where we can actually do special things that nobody else in the business can do--the digital team. The office automation team became very special.

The displaced departments--the ones that were getting displaced by this--the word processing department--were like, "That's not how we do business here." I can't tell you how many times I've heard that from B2B organizations of late. "We don't do business like that. We don't do digital content. We don't do digital business. That's not what we do here." That was the same thing they said. Senior executives--of course, they sided with the new kids. They said, "This is what's going to happen. This is the future. We're not going to get left on the sidelines. We're going to do this." Middle managers--they said, "Our jobs are changing. We used to lead teams, and now we have to roll up our sleeves and show ROI. We have to actually get into the weeds and do stuff"--these middle managers said. If you have a digital marketing VP and a regular marketing VP, somebody is going to be out of a job soon.

As we look to the lower level workers--those that were actually doing the work--they were out of luck altogether. They just basically got replaced. They basically just got replaced, and their job was basically eaten up. The winners here were the technology elite--basically the people who could actually make this stuff happen--the EDP--the electronic data processing people--the people who could actually make this stuff happen in the '50s, '60s, and early '70s. They were there to win the game until the bureaucratization, as Ida Hoos said, would basically come back in and the cycle would start all over again. In fact, in short, in summary, your job was eaten by the information age, and that gave birth to what?--what Peter Drucker called the knowledge worker. That's where we are today--the knowledge worker. That's what we all are theoretically, whether we're in marketing, content practitioners, developers. We're all knowledge workers. We're building off of the knowledge of what we do, and the cycle continues. We're working through a new cycle, as we develop technology.

This is something that was put out by the government, actually, that MarTech advisor, Scott Brinker--if you know him--a marketing technologist put out. I think it's just a wonderful thing. He talks about the computerization of selected occupations. It's a little hard to read, but it shows you the likelihood and probability of your job becoming automated and/or replaced by a machine. I can tell you, just as a general trend, the bottom there where it's all red hot and basically very, very likely, these are the folks where, if you're doing something that can be automated, then you probably know if you can, including by the way folks writing press releases, writing news releases, in fact, people doing coding, in fact, people doing template after template after template. Those are things that will ultimately be automated and created and computerized.

Up at the top, those are the people who are bringing and synthesizing different skills together. Call them the artists, if you like. Call them creative, if you like. I like to call them inventors. They're inventing new things. That's the thing that the machine cannot do--cannot really do. Now, I can be wrong. I can be wrong. I might be wrong here. It gets back to this what do we really do? What do we really do? I'll contend that the knowledge workers' days are over, that we are moving into a new era, whether we are a developer and a coder. Whether we're a marketer or a content practitioner, we are moving into a different era, one where wisdom work will become the way that we differentiate in our career.

It is not good enough. Facts are commodities, and if you don't think so, just look at the news. Facts are commodities these days. Facts don't matter. Having access to facts is not a differentiator. Having the knowledge is not a differentiator. You're one voice search away on Google or Alexia from finding a fact. Having the facts, having the knowledge, is no longer the differentiator for you in your job. You must be able to synthesize those things together and invent new things, evolve the business to actually move things forward.

Wisdom, as the dictionary says, is the ability to judge rightly, pull things together, and actually founded on the soundest course of action, helping the business evolve through the soundest course of action to move forward in a smart way--not just being a repository of facts. We might call is street smarts. It's basically having understanding. You understand the context. That's the real key and the differentiator.

I think the word is inventor, invention. It is about inventing things. Whether you're a developer, whether you're a technology practitioner, whether you're a software engineer, whether you're a marketing person, a content practitioner, a writer, a PR, a marketing manager, it is about inventing new things--taking lots of old things and inventing new things out of them. That is the wisdom worker. That is the skill that will propel us into the future here.

Now, it's not just about merging job titles. I'm not suggesting that if you are a developer you have to go out and learn to be a photographer, or if you're a photographer you have to go out and learn to be a coder. I'm not telling you not to do that. I think that's an incredible, wonderful thing to do. What I'm saying is that within your special skills, your special talents--whether it's coding, whether it's photography, whether it's marketing--figure out how you invent new things, bring you into the process, bring you into the invention. That is the way to differentiate yourself from the computerization. Marketing is experience. Technology is emotional. It must bring new things.

Ask yourself, if you're a marketing person, can you actually invent remarkable experiences--new, interesting, remarkable experiences for you, your customers, etcetera? Can you add you into the experience? If you're a technology practitioner or a coder, can you ask more meaningful questions of the data? Can you actually ask more meaningful questions of the technology to invent new things that differentiate and evolve the business that you're in, instead of just being a repository of facts? Can you find the emotion in the data?

What does it look like? One of my favorite examples of this is Vishal Khanna. I love Vishal so much. He's such a great guy. He ran and runs the content and digital experience strategy for Wake Forest University and their research group. He's built a network of blogs and websites that actually connect all together. He's got this content management software that runs underneath all of them. He came from journalism, and he was a writer. He wrote all of these wonderful things, and he's a great writer, but he really recognized that as head of digital for the Wake Forest research group, he didn't know enough. He went out and found out about technology and measurement and content and content management technology and started to really try and understand how he can invent something new at Wake Forest to really drive this.

He invented this wonderful network of content experiences which is just a series of blogs that are measured together, measured rightly, created the personas, targeted them, got results, and learned both the technology, the measurement, and the digital aspects of his job as he applied his own writing skills to it. What he says to me that is so wonderful is that he recognized right away that Google analytics--yeah, was just stories we were telling ourselves. The Marketo analytics--yeah, just stories that we're telling ourselves. That's all data that we can find whatever story we're looking for. He says measurement isn't found in a form fill. It's not found in a digital dashboard.

To truly attribute digital experiences to the values that they provide to business, you actually have to go out and find the people. Get out of your cube. Get beyond the digital measurement and look at things like front desk receptionist. Look at the sales people. Go to the events. Interview people, talk to them, argue with them. Get the attribution. One of the best things he did was he went to the sales people and said, "Let's talk about content and how it actually gets attributed and the data that it provides and let's figure out together what that data needs and really figure out how to apply technology to that data in a smart and meaningful way--not just vanity metrics of what we're doing.

When it comes down to what do you really do, I hope ultimately the question is answered with you invent shipwrecks. That's your job is to go out and invent shipwrecks, because when you invent shipwrecks, you inevitably invent the ship. When you invent the plane crash, it's because you've invented the plane. When you invent that--never mind. That's a metaphor. It's too far. Okay, but believe in it. You have to believe in that ability for you to do the invention because that's the way we will propel ourselves forward.

I love this, and I'll finish with this. This analogy is so well because one of the things that I love--this is one of my favorite pictures of history of all time--is the Wright brothers, of course, at Kitty Hawk and the first time they flew an airplane. You would think, especially in today's world, when they did this in the early 1900s, you would've thought that the world would've exploded, right. Plane flight, human flight has been achieved. We've achieved human flight. I mean this is the first time in history we have achieved human flight. You would've thought the world would go crazy. In fact, it didn't. When they flew at Kitty Hawk it wasn't like nobody knew. It wasn't like there was some big secret or something like that. Just it was so ingrained in our head that human flight was impossible that nobody could wrap their arms around it, their mind around the idea that we actually flew.

Three years after they flew at Kitty Hawk there was an article in The New York Times, and they were interviewing somebody was doing balloon flights. They said, "Do you think that human flight will ever be possible?" He said, "Yeah, I think there's some interesting experiments going on right now in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina." That was three years after they flew for the first time. They were already doing amazing wonderful things at that point, because they believed. They believed in building the shipwreck and the plane crash and the plane.

What I would just charge you with as you go forward into this day, tomorrow, and the days forward as you start thinking about wisdom and how you can apply wisdom into your own work, is let's just go out there and invent some shipwrecks together.

Thank you very much. I hope you have a great couple of days here, enjoy yourself. I'm around for the rest of the day, if you have any questions.

About the Author

Robert Rose

As the Chief Content Adviser for the Content Marketing Institute, Robert innovates creative and technical content marketing strategies for his clients. An early Internet pioneer, Robert has more than 15 years of experience, and a track record of helping brands and businesses develop successful Web and content marketing strategies. Robert just recently released Experiences: The 7th Era Of Marketing with co-author Carla Johnson.

@robert_rose