THINK Contributor

Your next content marketing plan

By , February 16, 2017

There have never been more opportunities than today for companies of all sizes to utilize technology and outside resources to manage and grow their businesses. The innovative changes taking place in technology are occurring almost daily. The biggest challenge for most entrepreneurs is trying to determine which new tech products and services are right for their companies, and which ones don’t apply. Separately, these companies are approaching social media in a similar style. As new social platforms are launched, business leaders are reviewing them to decide whether or not they are viable channels to engage with customers and prospects.

I predict we will see innovative companies combine their efforts in cognitive technology and social media in 2017 to create content marketing plans that will ultimately increase competitive advantages in their respective industries. Here are three ways in which companies will utilize tech and social to distance themselves from their competitors.

Using Cognitive Technology in Business

Cognitive technology is redefining relationships between businesses and their customers. The machine-learning, speech-recognition tools are strengthening engagement levels regardless of where customers and prospects are in their buying journey. This deeper level of engagement enables companies to automate certain tasks allowing them focus on the bigger picture in their business.

The North Face company provides an excellent example of using cognitive technology to expand the engagement level with their customers. In December 2015, they launched Expert Personal Shopper, a cognitive tool that assists customers visiting their website. Upon entering the website, instead of browsing through different types of jackets, visitors are asked “Where and when will you be using this jacket?” Based on the individual’s response, they are shown 4-6 options, narrowing the list down from over a hundred initial choices.

According to a separate article, “The North Face reported that 60 percent of customers who use the Expert Personal Shopper click through to learn more about particular products—in an industry where single-digit click through rates are common. Eighty percent of those who use Expert Personal Shopper say they would use it again.”

Joining the Conversations on Social Media

The success of The North Face’s online personal shopper program provides the company with valuable insights about consumer shopping habits and preferences. My recommendation to the company would be to turn the information they generate from their website into actionable content that can be distributed on their social media channels. The objective is to engage with potential buyers interested in connecting with The North Face on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social platforms.

It’s a natural extension to take conversations with new and existing customers and share them with like-minded people who have yet to purchase your product or service. The call-to-action on social media channels should send potential buyers to your website where they can use cognitive tools to get a personal, customized tour of your offerings.        

Zach Walchuk, a Development Evangelist for IBM Watson, penned a post on using cognitive computing for improved social media monitoring. He wrote “Text analytics, generated from cognitive APIs, help us ‘listen in’ on Twitter or Facebook and understand our customers’ language and thoughts. Now we can identify what’s working, spot trouble earlier, adjust campaigns for better ROI, track competitor moves and learn how to attract new customers and increase their engagement and satisfaction with our brand.”

The increased levels of effectiveness and efficiency that come from combining cognitive computing and social media is indisputable. Smart brands are guiding customers on their buying journey. They are providing all the information needed, in a timely manner, to help them make better decisions. The net results are happier customers who eventually become the brand’s strongest advocates.

Execute Your Content Marketing Plan

The key to successfully executing your content marketing plan is listening; you need to listen to what your customers and prospects are telling you on your company’s website and on the social media platforms. You “listen” to the data generated from online interactions. Then you respond accordingly to the questions and comments you receive from them. The more you listen, the less you will have to sell.

Take time to create and execute your content marketing plan. Before long, the content marketing plan will morph into a GPS plan—taking you and your customers exactly where you want to go.


Prior to rejoining the world of entrepreneurship, Brian was the Executive Director of Sales Development at The Wall Street Journal where he oversaw the sales development and marketing programs for the financial and small business categories among the many Journal brands. From 2002 to 2010, Brian was President of Veracle Media and Moran Media Group. Brian is a paid contributor to THINK Marketing.

Want to learn more about how your company can redefine customer engagement in the cognitive era? Register to attend Amplify 2017 in March 20-22 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV. Visit the Cognitive Concourse and explore tomorrow’s hottest offerings from 60+ exhibitors and business partners.

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