MarTech Interview with Ben Plummer, VP of Marketing at Knotch

Please tell us about your current role and the team you handle. How did you arrive at the company?

I currently serve as the EVP of Marketing. I oversee a 10-member team sitting across five verticals, including product marketing, customer marketing, demand generation, communications, and design. I joined the company in December of 2020 after having an informal meeting with Anda Gansca, the Co-Founder and CEO. From our first conversation, I saw a lot of similarities between the business intelligence space, which I helped create, and what Knotch was building for content marketers. I knew I could add value to the organization as it faced its next stage of growth, and I saw great partnership potential with Anda and myself.

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What have been the greatest challenges for you in the pandemic times with respect to your work?

I joined Knotch six months after the pandemic hit and they shifted to a remote-first model. They had navigated COVID-19 well by offering their solution free of charge to companies that were leaning in on COVID-related communications and content. The biggest challenge I faced coming in involved accelerating our brand reach and ramping up our lead generation. Knotch has always done a lot of events, and during the pandemic, their events grossed an audience of over 15,000 people. The audience and interest were there, but the systems to convert the audience into leads and ultimately reach the right people were something I prioritized during my first few months at the organization.  

What is the most contemporary definition of Content Intelligence? How is a Content Intelligence platform different from marketing analytics and customer intelligence platforms that have grown astronomically in the last 5 years? 

Forrester defines Content Intelligence as “the use of AI and ML to understand and capture qualities inherent to content.” As Knotch defines it, Content Intelligence delivers a 360-degree view of the performance of a brand’s owned and paid content by consolidating content engagement, sentiment, social, demographic, firmographic, market and other datasets generated by Knotch and its technology partners. This information helps content teams plan, measure and optimize their strategy – including what content to create and how it is influencing brand, ROI and audience. Knotch also has a Market Research and Intelligence module enabling users to monitor competitors’ content activity in real time. While Marketing Analytics and Customer Intelligence cover some of the same ground, they offer only partial information (web analytics on the one hand and sentiment on the other) and also lack a specific focus on content.

What are the various types of content intelligence and how should marketing teams approach these to enhance brand value?

The Knotch content intelligence platform focuses on content strategy and optimization. Other platforms in the content intelligence space such as Persado and Writer.com focus on content creation. Both technologies are crucial innovations for marketing teams because they help create content faster, determine success in real time, and ultimately course-correct and learn for the future. If COVID-19 has taught marketers anything, it is that the market is evolving faster than ever before. It is no longer possible to plan content creation and strategy a year-plus in advance. Today, things need to be created and published in near-real-time. Content Intelligence helps marketers meet that need. 

Where do you see Knotch racing ahead of others in this explosive galaxy of Martech solutions? What does your product roadmap look like for 2021- 2025?

We are really leaning in on value. Content leaders have told us that they are being tasked with directly tying their content to brand enhancement, return on investment, and audience development. Everyone knows that content is a crucial function, but companies still struggle to determine if it works. Knotch helps marketers and content leaders understand that faster. 

In terms of our product roadmap, our three areas for continued innovation include: data and integration; intelligence and predictability; and automation and intuitiveness. We aim to be a more integrated solution, with the opportunity to bring data in from other reliable sources. We strive to make our intelligence smarter through more AI and predictive capabilities. And, lastly, we want our overall platform to be more intuitive and self-service so it can be used across all content, from marketing to sales enablement, customer engagement, investor relations and beyond. What organizations forget, or don’t realize, is that content is everywhere and they are frequently spending millions of dollars without a way to measure the impact of that content consistently and easily. The Knotch content intelligence platform offers that kind of insight.

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Why do CMOs need a Content intelligence platform in 2021? How does it work for B2B companies?  

In the same way that content leaders are being asked by their CMOs to tie content to business outcomes, CEOs are asking CMOs to do the same thing. Our content intelligence helps provide CMOs with a map, including benchmarks, insights, outcomes and scores. This combination helps equip CMOs with the data to justify their content spend, strategy and headcount. Our B2B clients use our solution in the same way as our B2C clients. Their high value actions or the metrics needed to complete an outcome might be different, but B2B marketers are still selling to people, despite the people working for a business. Content still must connect with pain points, experiences and so on, even in a B2B environment. 

Tell us more about your ‘Pros and Content’ community? How can CMOs and digital marketing teams better leverage the resources available here?

In spring 2020, as the world turned upside down, our CEO gathered CMOs from different companies and sectors to talk about common pain points and learnings. What started as a one-time conversation evolved into a 12-week movement that snowballed into a three-day conference with Salesforce. Following that June 2020 event, content leaders wanted to formalize a group to continue the conversation, and the Pros & Content Community was born. Today, roughly 300 marketers representing more than 150 brands meet bi-monthly to discuss common problems, inspiring content and industry trends. 

When we developed the community, we realized that CMOs and content leaders were still craving connection. There are resources and channels out there, but most were fragmented or disjointed. The P&C community set out to be an open space for them to let their guard down and share with each other openly – an option not conducive to a webinar or panel discussion. 

Your prediction on the future of Content intelligence and how it will shape marketing campaigns in omnichannel ecosystem?

As companies of every type undergo some degree of digital transformation, they are realizing that content is the customer communications currency of the future. I believe the content space will only have a larger omnichannel presence in the years to come, with newer technologies like TikTok and Clubhouse constantly being created and presented to companies as opportunities to connect with different audiences and markets. Given that scenario, the need to measure and optimize content – including segmenting it per channel and per market based on performance – will be even more critical to brand marketers. Content Intelligence will therefore become an essential part of the martech stack for companies of all sizes.

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Knotch is a SaaS platform that helps brands connect their content to desired business outcomes.

Ben Plummer is the VP of Marketing at Knotch