Soumitra Sengupta

Fractional CMO/Growth Advisor

A Conversation with Soumitra Sengupta on the Future of Content Creation

In this illuminating conversation, marketing expert Soumitra Sengupta discusses AI's transformative power in content marketing. With the emergence of advanced technologies like GPT-3, GPT-3.5, and GPT-4, Sengupta anticipates a significant boost in productivity and efficiency for marketers. He also shares his insights on the ever-evolving content marketing landscape, underscores the importance of A/B testing, and provides a glimpse into the future of operational efficiency.

Furthermore, the conversation delves into Sengupta's perspective on crafting the 'ideal content marketing stack' and offers valuable insights into his approach to understanding the target audience's pain points. This enlightening conversation between Prateek Kalra, Associate Director - Sales at Pepper Content, and Soumitra Sengupta, Fractional CMO/Growth Advisor, promises to be a valuable resource for professionals navigating the intersection of AI and content creation in the marketing world.

1. Please tell us about your journey.

I've spent over a decade in the world of marketing and startups. It all began after college when I realized that coding wasn't my calling. This was around 2009-2010 when startups were taking off in India. Fortunately, I had a friend who was deeply involved in the startup scene, and I decided to jump in with them. We embarked on a journey to create an online platform for mentorship. This was the start of my adventure in the startup world, and I've been on this exciting path ever since.

Over the years, I've been a part of numerous early-stage and growth-stage companies. To be more precise, I've been involved in almost double-digit ventures. My expertise lies in growth and marketing, mainly digital marketing. Back in the day, there were no formal courses for digital marketing, so I had to learn everything hands-on. I did everything from running PPC campaigns to handling SEO and content marketing, from crafting email marketing strategies to various other tasks. This hands-on approach allowed me to gain deep insights into digital marketing.

Today, I am a consultant, helping startups with their growth strategies. My focus is primarily on digital growth, and I mainly collaborate with B2C companies that are transitioning into the growth phase after finding their product-market fit.

"What we see in terms of the capability of AI is immense. How it will pan out essentially on a high level for marketers is that it will increase productivity for marketers. And it will also increase the number of iterations that any marketer needs in terms of molding their content formats in a very fast way."

2. With your extensive experience overseeing multiple brands, how do you view the evolution of marketing as a function in the past few years?

At a high level, one of the most noteworthy changes has been the massive influx of professionals into the digital marketing space, leaving behind traditional methods. This migration has been driven by the undeniable shift in consumer behavior towards digital platforms. What's truly fascinating is how companies that once hesitated or couldn't see the value in digital marketing have undergone a complete about-face over the past decade. They've recognized the immense potential and reach that digital marketing offers, and as a result, they've wholeheartedly embraced it. This shift has been particularly pronounced in sectors that were historically rooted in traditional advertising methods.

For instance, newspapers have long been a stronghold for print advertisements. With the advent of digital media, the readership of these traditional print publications has gradually dwindled. More people now consume news and content through online platforms, and advertisers have followed suit, redirecting their budgets toward digital channels.

The crux of this transformation lies in acknowledging that the digital landscape is where the audience is, and businesses must adapt to effectively connect with their target demographics. This shift has also forced marketers to evolve their strategies, employing data-driven approaches, SEO, content marketing, and social media engagement to reach their audiences where they are most active.

3. Regarding content marketing, what's your ideal definition of good content, and how do you establish the proper framework for it?

Let's talk about content marketing without getting lost in the SEO maze. Content marketing isn't just about SEO; it goes beyond that. At its core, content marketing is about creating valuable content tailored to your potential audience. This content can align with your brand or service or address your target audience's pain points. The goal is for your brand to become visible while helping your audience solve their problems through your content.

Content marketing takes various forms, and one of the distribution channels is writing. You can craft written content and distribute it through channels like SEO, email marketing newsletters, or even transform it into videos for platforms like YouTube. Content marketing is about providing solutions and engaging your target audience through various content forms.

"I think the biggest piece of any content marketing stack is getting the strategy right, a good content strategist who will ask the right questions and get the right answers from the target audience to understand the pain point is what it is below that."

4. What are the challenges content marketers face today in the world of evolving digital media and diverse channels?

That's a fantastic question. What keeps content marketers up at night, and has for quite some time, is the challenge of demonstrating the value of their content marketing efforts to their superiors. Justifying the allocation of funds to content marketing and explaining the lack of immediate results in a specific channel can be daunting.

The real problem lies in how to effectively measure the return on investment (ROI) from content marketing. This question has been floating around the industry for a while, and a concrete answer remains elusive. While there are numerous methods to measure attribution through content marketing, there's still a scarcity of straightforward, direct ways to do so. The struggle to prove the worth of content marketing continues to be a significant concern for practitioners in the field.

5. When it comes to the buzz around AI, what's your take on its future, considering both its promising aspects and potential risks, and how do you foresee it shaping our future?

In the world of social media and online content, you've probably noticed the buzz around AI lately. Whether it's LinkedIn posts or YouTube videos, AI is making its presence felt, especially in areas like marketing and coding assistance. Those who are already incorporating AI into their workflows are ahead of the game, as they're getting a firsthand look at how AI is reshaping the marketing landscape.

The unexpected part is how rapidly AI has transformed marketing. In just six months, we've witnessed groundbreaking developments. While AI, including GPT-3, has been around for a while, the recent integration and advancements in AI, like GPT-3.5 and GPT-4, have truly opened our eyes to its potential. Having personally used tools like OpenAI's GPT, I can attest to their incredible capabilities.

So, what can marketers expect from AI? At a high level, AI is set to boost productivity significantly. It will enable marketers to iterate and adapt their content formats faster than ever before, leading to increased efficiency. While we're still in the early stages, we're witnessing the emergence of various AI-powered products, from video editing to content generation tools. In the following year, I believe the marketing landscape will undergo a profound transformation, making it an exciting time for the industry.

"Having a complete suite to manage all these pieces, because still, the majority of this, across enterprises, happens either in generic task management like Asana or Trello or, let's say, Excel sheets, which obviously will require a lot of input from the project manager to make the whole system running smoothly."

6. Is A/B testing the key to improving efficiency and audience connection? What elements make up an ideal content marketing stack without naming specific tools?

Addressing your question about an ideal content marketing stack, let's break it down step by step. At the core, the most critical component is a well-defined strategy. This begins with having a skilled content strategist who can engage with the target audience, comprehend their unique needs, and identify their pain points. The next step involves categorizing these insights into content angles or story arcs that resonate with both the audience's pain points and our brand's objectives.

Once this strategic foundation is established, it's essential to implement systems to streamline the content creation process. Initially, this may require a human touch, with the content strategist asking pertinent questions and extracting valuable answers from the audience. Tools like Typeform can complement this process, but the human element remains crucial.

Moving forward, a content suite becomes valuable in efficiently orchestrating the content production process. This suite helps create a structured system where content types, story arcs, pain points, and target keywords are clearly defined. It enables seamless communication between content creators, such as writers and video scriptwriters, and the project management team.

Speaking of project management, a dedicated content task management system is crucial. While many organizations rely on generic task management tools like Asana or Trello, a specialized system tailored to the unique workflows of content teams can significantly enhance efficiency. Such a system should facilitate collaboration, oversee content production stages, and ensure a smooth transition from creation to editing, quality control, and publishing.

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