Category: Strategy

Artificial or Emotional Intelligence: What’s Right for Your Brand Story?

Artificial or Emotional Intelligence: What’s Right for Your Brand Story?

We’re entering a new world in content marketing. A world of algorithms, datasets, automation, machine learning, predictive analytics and, of course, that misnomer catch-all – artificial intelligence (AI). Many of us are excited about this new adventure, many are anxious, most of us are just plain bewildered. What does it do? What does it mean? What’s my job going to be like—if I even have one?

According to the 2017 Economist Intelligence Unit report, which surveyed more than 200 global business executives, 75% said they would implement AI in their companies within the next three years. 79% believe AI will make their jobs easier and more efficient. According to Gartner, the artificial intelligence market is set to surpass $100 billion by 2025.

So we all know that we need to start planning and preparing for this, but we’re just not sure for what.

At this stage in our evolution as content marketers (and a species), artificial intelligence does not (yet) mean almost-sentient systems of semiconductor synapses that are going to put us all out of jobs.

“Artificial Intelligence” is, at its essence, a shiny short-hand for super-sophisticated organization—the creation of layers of information and the use of technology to understand the relationships between those layers of information. Understanding those layers lets us intuit future relationships, and allows us to prepare for future engagements our customers might have with our brand.

By looking for patterns and combining this information with smart, modular and semantically rich content, we can deliver more authentic communication, more relevant messaging, a better customer experience and thus more sales and more loyal customers.

Segmentation and targeting.

Artificial intelligence systems represent the next frontier of personalization, with the ability to create thousands of tailored content experiences that will enrich your relationships with your customers – albeit only if that personalization allows for more relevant information to be sent their way.

Offer selection and pricing.

The more we know, the more we’re going to be able to guide our customers (and crucially too, people who behave similarly to them) through their experience with our brand. We’ll be able to offer them additional information and provide alternatives, suggestions and upsells. We may even, if we want to take that risk, charge different people different prices dependent on our perceived sense of their future value.

Customer service and support.

And we’ll be able to offer more personalized support – support that is there at the right time and that addresses the right issues. We’ll be able to provide customer service that delivers loyalty and ongoing dialogue.

Necessity of a Human Connection.

But we’re not all going to be swept away (or aside) by big data and automated content. The Washington Post’s experience with automated story-telling technology can help illuminate why. Their proprietary tool, Heliograf, is used to cover areas such as the weather, local political results and high-school football games in the Washington DC metro area and, in so doing achieves two things. Firstly, it enables the Washington Post to deliver more highly localized news easily and efficiently. More importantly, it allows the rest of the news team to focus on more in-depth reporting where a human touch is needed. The most important stories require depth, intuition, nuance and empathy. Heliograf can’t do that; all it can do is provide (admittedly needed) cover for humans to make their best pieces even better.

So, while it’s estimated that in 2018 20% of all business content will be authored by machines, that human touch is always going to be needed. Because, the art of brand storytelling is going to become more, not less, important.

If your brand is going to be successful in a world where people are ordering and engaging through a smart speaker, a smart phone or a chatbot, your brand needs to be the one consumers ask for by name. They will only do that if they feel a connection with you; a bond. And while we can deliver automated content efficiently, we can’t yet deliver automated content that is emotionally rich, that resonates and that has the clearly articulated values which create that bond. That sort of content still needs the craft of a storyteller – a human being.

10 Secrets to Content Marketing Success for Financial Brands

10 Secrets to Content Marketing Success for Financial Brands

The Imprint team is delighted that the Gramercy Institute named us one of the financial sector’s Top Agencies for 2018.

We were especially thrilled to take part in a round table discussion with our peers, where each agency was asked to name one key driver to success in marketing for financial brands. Here are my takeaways.

1. Reuse content

You’ve got reams of content by now and, let’s face it, some pieces could use a face-lift. So don’t keep producing new content unless there’s a clear purpose; optimize what you have first. Focus on repackaging, transforming and enhancing evergreen content so it’s visually engaging, snappier, and optimized for social sharing.

2. Aim for the white space

Figure out what makes your brand stand out. Define what’s different about you, and your unique point of view. Also make sure your solutions and insights are relevant and useful to your customers and clients.

3. Have a purpose

Define how you are helping your customers and clients, as well as the value you’re providing. This can be emotional support, practical help, advice, information, guidance or data – ­or a combination of all of those things.

4. It’s human to human

We can all get caught up in discussing B2B strategies or B2C campaigns, but it’s always H2H – human to human. You’re talking with people. And people respond best to conversations, so you need to listen.

5. Collaborate

Of course your agencies are vendors, but they’re also partners. They’re full of fresh ideas and expertise, and they want your business to be successful—that’s why you hired them. So involve your external teams in every stage of your program from ideation to implementation.

6. Try new things

Don’t be afraid of pushing against brand guidelines. Take risks and innovate. Your audience, whether B2B or B2C, is expecting to see new formats and approaches to brand story telling. Fortune favors the brave.

7. Confront your internal hurdles around social media

You need to be where your customers and clients are having conversations. And that’s often on social channels—not a website. We’re in a highly regulated industry, but all brands need to get to grips with the compliance and approval obstacles that prevent them from taking true advantage of social media’s opportunities. You need to tie social into content development process and also plan for some spontaneity.

8. Create an emotional connection

People want interaction on social media, so leverage that. Be personal, warm, and informal and you’ll create a dialogue that will be incredibly valuable both to you and your customer or client. Ensure your content makes sense to your audience’s life or business.

9. Inspire action

Give your audience a way to respond to your content—and not only through a 1-800 number or an email address. Ensure your audience will want to share and comment on your content.

10. Be strategic not tactical

Every piece of content you create or repackage should be built around a goal, a target audience, a customer journey and a message that supports, builds and brings to life your brand’s business.


To the teams at:


Congratulations! We’re proud to be part of such a smart, thoughtful and committed industry. Thanks for your insight. Here’s to a successful, strategic and engaging year of financial content marketing.

How to Become Agency of the Year

How to Become Agency of the Year


2017 was an amazing year for Imprint. We had been nominated as Small Content Marketing Agency of the Year by CMA three times, and winning last September on our fourth consecutive nomination put a real spring in our step. Among other accolades, we were just named to Gramercy Institute’s Top 12 Financial Agencies for 2018.

To date, there have been over 50 awards for our clients and ourselves, and we haven’t yet reached our fifth year anniversary!

What’s the thread to creating the winning work? Some Imprint team members weigh in with six tips:


  • Tap the best of others

I think one of the strong suits of the team here is collaboration. There’s a real team effort in strategy and optimization, not the traditional silos that you see in other agencies.

– Brendan Burke, strategy @Imprint_Brendan


  • Don’t settle for cookie cutter

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to our work. Our content programs are strategic and highly tailored to the needs to our clients and their audiences. From scheduling and process, to editorial and creative, everything we do is customized to deliver the best end results for our clients. We push our clients out of their comfort zones and encourage them to try new formats and approaches that we believe can strategically help them reach their goals.

– Kim Papa, editorial @Imprint_KimP


  • Get your hands dirty

We combine strategy and creativity with roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-it-done delivery.

– Meg Staknis, strategy 


  • Look outwards, not inwards

We’re laser-focused on our clients and on their business. We’re focused on their markets, their challenges, their audiences and the opportunities that content provides to create relationships and deliver results. We’re always looking at the bigger picture, the trends and technologies that will make our work as resonant, effective and innovative as possible.

– Duncan Milne, strategy @ContentDuncan


  • Be audience-first

Our work embodies the perspective of the audience. Always.

– Ashley Brenner, design @Imprint_AshleyB


  • Speak up!

The Imprint team is not afraid to question the norm, to voice an opinion.

– Ken Williams, business development @Imprint_KenW

5 Essential Content Marketing Ideas for 2018

5 Essential Content Marketing Ideas for 2018

A New Year can be a new beginning. Some people make resolutions, while others just reflect on the past. The Imprint team is all about looking ahead, and we’ve compiled five ideas to incorporate into your fresh thinking for 2018.

1. Stay nimble, stay ahead

Make 2018 all about testing, reading results and switching up your approach based on what you find. For example, when it comes to social, don’t just rely on organic engagement. Make sure you are testing paid promotion and leveraging influencers. You can be tactical using A/B testing on the fundamentals, and strategic by testing on new platforms, if your audiences are there.

2. Break the B2B mold

For years we’ve been moving our clients away from traditional B2B company talk and toward having a conversation with the audience that’s true to who they are: people.

3. Make it real

To exhibit expertise, brands create white papers. To drive engagement? Brands should tell stories, create a narrative and make their content relatable.

4. Use data wisely

In the age of Big Data, content marketers need to be thoughtful about the use of data in their programs. The key question to ask: what is the desired outcome of the use of data? Look at a customer’s journey through the sales funnel, and use data to serve up relevant content to increase engagement, if possible, at every interaction. In terms of showing personalization, we recommend layering that on more as the client moves deeper in the funnel.

5. Choose quality over quantity

Content marketing continues to become more complex, sophisticated and messy. Make sure that you are not creating new content just for the sake of creating it. Refresh and reimagine wherever possible and focus new content creation efforts on what you need to engage your key targeted audiences.

We’re starting the New Year off with renewed energy and ready to kick 2018 into high gear!

4 Essential Steps for Creating an Effective Journey Map

4 Essential Steps for Creating an Effective Journey Map

We recently headed out to a mutual fund marketing conference at Morningstar’s Chicago headquarters to lead a roundtable on customer journey mapping. It was a great discussion about why having a journey map—and in particular a digital journey map—is so important.  The participants were not shy about sharing the challenges they and their brands are facing.

During the session, we shared what the Imprint team has found to be the four essential steps to creating an effective map, with the objectives to drive a better experience for the customer and smarter decisions for the brand.

1. Define your goal

The first thing you should do is envision the end of the journey. What actions do you ultimately want your customer to take? Consider what you feel will help get them there.

2. Create personas

But don’t overcomplicate the number of journeys. Aim for five to eight total. Too many personas increases complexity in content creation.

3. Look at a “day in the life” of your customer

Think about what they’re doing, where they are and how they feel. Look to understand where pain points are within the current user journey and where there are new opportunities.

4. Create the map

As with personas, simplicity is key. Limit to the number of steps that can effectively be managed and don’t try to put equal emphasis on every step. Moments where there are calls to action should take priority.

As content marketing and creating custom content becomes more complex, having the core foundations for a program is essential.  And knowing your audience and understanding their journeys is key.

What You Can Learn from Russia’s Content Marketing

What You Can Learn from Russia’s Content Marketing

If you’re on Facebook, there is a good chance you’ve been exposed to a post produced by Russian-backed agents. Exploring Russian’s influence on the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, Facebook has reported that the Russians reached 126 million Americans on its network.

You might be angry, you may need to see more evidence. But one thing is clear—it’s a classic case study of content marketing.

Let’s review the five steps Russia took to master content marketing:

  1. Know your audience and segments. Russia was able to read the divide that was happening between major political parties, and within the parties.
  2. Understand the message that needs to be told in order to resonate. What are the issues that were motivating segments? From feeling the Bern to being with Her, there was much emotion to navigate.
  3. Create content that drives action. In this case, the messages were overwhelmingly controversial and hateful―and unfortunately well done for the strategy.
  4. Be smart and strategic with targeted distribution. The Russians were able to use social platforms to target specific states, groups and individuals.
  5. Effectively spend and measure. While the budget wasn’t large, it showed just how much impact a $100,000 toward media can have.

The Russians may have influenced our elections, but they definitely stole content marketing.

Content Marketing Agency of the Year: Thank You

Content Marketing Agency of the Year: Thank You

It was our fourth nomination, and it turns out this was our year.  At the 2017 Content Marketing World conference, run by the Content Marketing Institute, Imprint was named “Content Marketing Agency of the Year” (<100 employees).  It was truly a surprise!  We were in great company, as the five other nominees seem to do really interesting work.

Our clients are amazing, and they are the thread to why we were honored with this award.

  • They push us to think differently. Our clients want us to respect the past, but not be hindered by legacy.  We make sure their brand is clearly infused in the work so even the most common of concepts stand out and can be owned.
  • We relentlessly focus on a client’s audience.  It’s not just asking the why that is important, but really the for who.  Because when you concentrate on what audiences need and want, you don’t really need to justify why content is created.
  • They trust us. We value quality over quantity and are measurement obsessed.

We’re committed to bringing our clients excellence and drive for results.  But at this moment, we’re taking a breath and saying, thank you!

CC 17: Four Tips to Win a Content Marketing Award

CC 17: Four Tips to Win a Content Marketing Award

The number of content marketing award programs are growing, as are the number of submissions per category.  And submissions aren’t inexpensive!  So if you have ever submitted a project for an award – or if you are planning to – you may want to listen to this podcast.  Two of Imprint’s analysts outline four of their key tips to better your chances of winning the award you want.

Intro music Golden Sunrise by Josh Woodward // CC BY

The Call for Audio Content Marketing Gets Louder

The Call for Audio Content Marketing Gets Louder

In the piece below from, Imprint Managing Partner Andy Seibert offers his insights regarding audio content, and how content marketers can best make use of it (if they should use it at all).

Branded podcasts helped spark a new craze for audio content marketing, but they’re hardly alone in the space anymore. Home digital assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home, along with other IoT offerings including smart cars, are opening up new audio possibilities for brands.


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