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Talking Content Marketing – With Shafqat Islam


Talking Content Marketing gives a warm welcome to CEO and CoFounder of NewsCred, Shafqat Islam.

NewsCred is a content marketing software platform where Shafqat’s quest is to help marketers create exceptional content that delivers business success. Shafqat wants to help set the bar high for our industry, as he believes, it will make the internet better.

Six questions with a focus on creating a cause to differentiate.

Lets go…

You highlight that the NewsCred mission is to help the journalism industry thrive, not just survive. Do all businesses need a cause that they stand beside?

Yes, I think purpose driven brands are proven to be more successful and more profitable (Jim Stengel writes about this in his book Grow). I believe people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. This has been articulated really nicely in a now-famous TED Talk by Simon Sinek. I also believe that every company has a story to tell about why they exist. That’s what makes them special.

For NewsCred, our social mission is to help the journalism industry thrive and flourish. We also have a broader purpose and mission around making the internet better. We believe traditional advertising has made the internet worse, and that great content can educate, inspire, and entertain in a way that makes the world slightly better for all of us.


What is the main difference between those who are succeeding with a content driven mindset and those who are not? 

In order to create effective content a brand must be in touch with their audience.

A customer-centric mindset is at the root of those who are succeeding with content and that customer centricity is missing in those who are not. If you care about what your customers want and need, you will invest in content and see measurable success. We always tell our customers to focus on their customers and not their competitors.


Do companies struggle with content because there is i) no strategy in place or ii) there is no editorial approach from the outset?

It’s not binary – you need both. 

However just having an Editorial strategy isn’t sufficient for success.  You need to ensure you have the right vision, plan, alignment, process, distribution and measurement frameworks in place to ensure you can get your content in front of the right people, at the right time and truly start driving  your business objectives.

I have found a lot of companies say they have a strategy, but when asked if they have a *documented* strategy, I hear crickets.


How difficult is it for businesses to become differentiated from the rest, particularly within crowded industries ie. financial services

Very difficult.

Constant innovation, taking calculated risks, and reviewing data is an ongoing process – there is no “secret sauce.” And by the way, this is as it always been.

When you’re operating in a commoditized market place, often the only way to differentiate is by establishing a unique brand. How can you help consumers to justify the irrational? How can you drive true brand love? In order to win, you need to think about what makes you different as a brand and why your story is unique.

The world doesn’t need another article on ‘5 ways to save money.’ If you are a financial services firm, think about the data that you have that no one else in the world has. Or access to people that you have? Every company has some data or access or people that is unique to them, and we encourage our customers to tell that story.


Your CMWorld talk mentions developing owned properties that matter. Is this going to become even more critical to brands in order to build audience/knowledge/conversion as we approach 2017?

The only place you own all of the data is on your site.

You own your audience and the data about them, and the data around the actions they are taking. This is where you have the greatest opportunity to personalize your content and build a meaningful relationship with your customer.

Any brand that has a social first strategy will fail. It’s no longer sufficient to have a channel specific approach to content, you need to have a content first approach that can be adapted by channel. One of the biggest challenges CMO’s face is having a disjointed customer experience across channels – having an overarching content strategy, that ties together, or becomes the silver thread through existing strategies is the only to help drive consistency.

Having your hub at the center of this, means your content can become the connective tissue throughout your organization. One other benefit — if you have a site, you can use that to capture email addresses. This opt-in, permission based audience is exceptionally valuable to re-engage on a consistent basis through content.


How do you learn, what inspires you?

I read a ton. I recently read Team of Teams, Shoe Dog and Multipliers. All awesome books. I also make sure I walk around the floor every day, and I am known to stop at everyone’s desk asking a simple question: “what are you working on.” I dont care if you are a programmer, our head of sales, an assistant or an editor. I want to know and learn from them. Curiosity about the world is what inspires me.

Huge thanks to Shafqat for his time. Why not connect and a look over to what is happening his side of the fence.

Shafqat on Twitter: click here

NewsCred Insights: click here

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