CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with Zahara Kanchwalla – Co-founder & CEO, Rite KnowledgeLabs
We started Rite KnowledgeLabs as a content-first digital agency, 7 years ago. We’d identified a need-gap in the industry where there was a need for quality content that could help businesses establish thought leadership. Our vision was to provide business content and storytelling that could meet this need. So, we set out to create a ‘Storytelling as a Service’ platform that could help businesses achieve their stakeholder reputation and thought-leadership goals.
Over the years, we have worked with marquee clients both multinational and domestic. Being self-funded, it has been a challenging yet rewarding journey. We have been recognized as one of India’s Top 10 Independent Content Agencies (India Content Leadership Awards 2022) and are among India’s Fastest Growing Digital Agencies (Agency Reporter 2023).
Today, we are delighted to see that the content industry is finally maturing. Businesses are recognizing the importance of having a strong digital presence and are investing in quality content to build and strengthen thought leadership. We are grateful to have played a role in this transformation and continue to strive towards moving the bar of content-driven thought-leadership higher and higher.
In our client engagements, we typically kick off with an Immersion Workshop to understand the needs and goals of our clients. I’ve come across some common misconceptions during these initial interactions with clients. People think content is about selling. Push-driven salesy content can put-off audiences. While driving sales can be a goal, it cannot be the only one. A brand content strategy is about building awareness, establishing thought leadership, educating your audience and providing value.
Also, marketers sometimes mistake clever copywriting that resembles advertisements for content writing.
Another misconception is that social media is not for CXOs. Anyone can be on social media with the aim of building thought leadership, regardless of their position, function or role in the company. The idea is to share not just your knowledge and views, but also inspiring anecdotes, all with the aim of positioning yourself as a trusted expert in your field.
People think that content is a one-time effort. However, it is actually like cycling – an ongoing process. To establish thought leadership and keep your audience engaged, you need to consistently and regularly produce high-quality content.
Building thought-leadership around a business’ unique positioning requires a deep understanding of the client’s diverse stakeholder audience, its competitors, and its own strengths and weaknesses. Post our Immersion Workshop, we work on defining a few key parameters to arrive at a messaging and storytelling framework. It helps us understand how to position the business in a way that resonates with the target audience.
We perform a thorough and detailed competitive study, analyzing competitors’ strengths and weaknesses to differentiate the business from others.
This helps us pin down on the client’s niche, determining the areas of expertise they want to drive awareness around and want to be known for. This forms the basis of our messaging framework for building thought leadership. We then create a content strategy identifying topics, themes, formats and a rhythm of publishing. The content plan typically includes a content-rich corporate website supported by regular publishing of blog posts, whitepapers, videos, podcasts, or any other format that resonates with the client’s audience and also social media.
Building thought-leadership is like a marathon and not a sprint. It is a long game. And measuring the success of such programmes requires clear goal setting from the beginning. While there are certain metrics like ‘organic’ engagement that help you understand how your content is resonating with your audience, success should be measured by the impact and influence that your ideas and insights have on your audience. And, the overall reputation it contributes to.
Measuring influence and reputation is a qualitative and multi-faceted process. An indication of progress is the quality of followers and comments on the content, increase in brand mentions, share of voice and so on.
In Abraham Lincoln’s words, “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Ultimately the actions and values of a business determine its true character and long-term success. When the content narrative is in line with the real character and actions of the business and drives an increase in organic engagement, your efforts can be considered successful.
Seven years ago, Zahara Kanchwalla, Co-founder and CEO of the content-first digital consulting firm RiteKnowledge Labs, saw a yawning gap in the online business content space. While most business content was focused on advertising and promotions, no one seemed to be telling compelling narratives about the brand that help it win customer trust and engagement. In an interview, Kanchwalla tells us why Storytelling-as-a-Service or SaaS, as she calls it, will remain the defining USP of her digital consulting startup.
As 2020 became the year of ‘virtual everything’, leaders and brands bolstered their digital content to build and maintain relationships with stakeholders. We saw unprecedented acceleration in digitalisation, e-commerce and remote working. Businesses navigated the cycle of reset, restoration and recovery; as did their content narratives, underpinned by shifts in the market, customer preferences, economic landscape and societal needs.
Gone are the days when writing was considered an art form, mastered only by a chosen few who possessed the elusive talent of weaving magic with words. Now, with the power of AI and language models like ChatGPT, it seems that anyone can pick up a quill (or keyboard) and write their way to literary greatness. Writing is no longer a magic trick, it’s a universal skill.