Carlos Abler was given the opportunity to jump in as the “content czar” at 3M after he had been working for the company as a contractor in 2010. From a cross-vertical customer-focused perspective, the opportunity to work in that capacity for a multibillion-dollar company with tens of thousands of products in every vertical there is was hugely attractive.
He has been working hard to evolve the culture of content marketing ever since.
One of his major initiatives includes a program called Content to Customer, a toolkit that helps various areas within 3M achieve content excellence while focusing on technology, process, and strategy. And for the past few years, Carlos has been taking this content acceleration framework and applying it across all levels of the organization. Through workshops, visual storytelling, and information design, he helps everyone from marketing to sales to customer care anchor themselves around strategically managing the customer experience.
“Content is an interface at all those touch-points and across all those things.”
It isn’t always easy to introduce content marketing to those who haven’t bought into it yet. As with anything new, there is an adoption curve.
Carlos recognizes that being up front about the challenges that transitioning into content marketing presents goes a long way. Once it’s out in the open that not everyone will “get it” right away (which is okay), it’s much easier to create a positive atmosphere. And, as will happen with early-adopters in any realm, it’s important to reward those who are ready to pilot content marketing programs and bring others along for the ride.
Another key to adopting content marketing lies in the hands of the top-level management at the organization. The organization needs to manage expectations, and say, “As leadership in a company who’s expecting our culture to adapt to these new imperatives in marketing and customer relations, we also understand that we have a responsibility, as organizational leaders, to give people some time to get it right.”
The organization must invest in training, resources, and outside assistance to support those who are left to implement the new initiative. Introducing something new and then leaving employees to fight their way through it without the proper resources is a recipe for disaster.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Carlos wanted to be a lot of things, but one of the big ones was an Egyptologist or an archeologist, “discovering buried miracles of past civilizations and that type of thing.” Perhaps he was influenced by the Indiana Jones “sexy guy with a bullwhip” version of an archeologist, but there you have it.
Carlos has two different backgrounds that have culminated to where he is today. The first was his studies in human experience and behavior – how humans works, and how they make sense of the world. The second was in creating artistic and narrative experiences for people through theatre, animation, and multimedia installations. In the late 90s, he was heading on the path to produce large-scale multimedia theater spectacles and feature-length films. He started picking up digital skills to be able to create movie trailers on his own and get buy-in for large-scale projects that way, but discovered that he loved working in the digital sphere. The rest is history.