Q&A with David Spark, Content Marketer and Producer, Managing Editor at Spark Media Solutions

MEDIA 7 | November 7, 2019

David Spark, Content Marketer and Producer, Managing Editor at Spark Media Solutions is a veteran tech journalist and founder of Spark Media Solutions. He’s been the creative director, producer, voice, and face of many content marketing campaigns for a number of Fortune 1000 B2B tech companies.

MEDIA 7: What part of your background, personality, experience, or skill set makes you a particularly effective content marketing professional?
DAVID SPARK:

• Veteran technology journalist (worked across all media)
• Former advertising exec
• Former standup comedian and comedy writer

M7: What inspires you to come up with new ideas for blog posts, campaigns, tech, and media podcasts?
DS:
Inspiration is dependent on the project, the output, and the medium. But in general, I’m inspired by finding a topic/question that the audience will eagerly want to answer. Two of our most popular examples:

CISO Series – This is a media channel we started in October 2018 that we tout as couples counseling for security practitioners and vendors. We have such a passionate audience that they’re submitting a steady flow of questions, commentary, and games for our two podcasts. The CISO Series has provided the forum for our audience to be inspired.

“Man on the street” videos – It’s our most popular video format. We’ve produced close to 200 of these and my goal with these videos is to come up with a question where the first reaction is to laugh and then an eagerness about responding. It could be a challenge question (e.g., “What would happen if you left your mobile phone at home for an entire day?”, or something completely inappropriate for the environment (e.g., asking “What’s Your Password?” at a security conference).


"This whole attitude of “let’s try it with one and see how it works out” is a failed strategy out of the gate."

M7: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the content marketing space since you first started in Chicago as a comedy writer for The Second City? 
DS:
 Not related to comedy, but the biggest change I’ve seen in content marketing was that the work moved in house. We started business in 2007 and most of my sales pitches were trying to explain the value of content marketing which at the time I referred to as brand journalism. By 2012 all of our current and past clients finally got it and stopped outsourcing the majority of their content marketing efforts. That forced us in 2013 to change our business model to specialize in certain industry sectors and be more product-focused. People now hire us because they want our style of production and access to our industry connections specifically in B2B tech and cybersecurity.

M7: As a Content Marketer & Managing Editor at Spark Media Solutions, how much content are you personally creating versus managing?
DS:
 I’m doing the majority of it, but I bring in audio editors, designers, video editors, and now I have a sponsored segment producer for the CISO Series. I’m constantly pitched, but no one ever actually pitches in our style. I reject all offers for guest posts. I’m extremely protective of my brand.


"The only way you create great content is you have to make a lot of bad content first."

M7: What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learned about content creation/management over the last few years?
DS: 
The only way you create great content is you have to make a lot of bad content first. Nobody is amazing out of the gate. This is especially true about video production. For those getting into video, I highly recommend producing home movies first. The reason is those first videos will be awful, but your audience (your family) will love the videos no matter how bad they are.

M7: Could you tell us more about your book, “Three Feet from Seven Figures: One-on-One Engagement Techniques to Qualify More Leads at Trade Shows”?
DS:
A huge majority of the work we do is at trade shows where we see a lot of behavior that is far from optimal.
At big trade shows, companies are dropping six to seven figures to have a presence at the conference. The cost per hour to be on the floor is extraordinary. So much is spent on booth production, travel, and staffing, but it appears nothing is spent on training people on how to actually behave at a trade show. It pains me when I see booth staffers staring at their phones, turning their back to the floor, or getting in huddles and talking with fellow coworkers. All these behaviors scream, “We don’t want to talk with you, potential customer who is walking past us just three feet away.”
The book offers techniques on how to engage with random people as they walk by your booth and quickly qualify or disqualify them.
The engagement techniques from the book became very popular, so we built upon them and made them usable by anyone in a training program we created called “Business Networking Pickup Lines”.


"In the entire history of media, with the exception of feature movies, no media brand becomes successful with one magazine issue, one radio show, one article, or one of anything."

M7: How has Spark Media Solutions been experimenting with new approaches/content formats/platforms? Are there any campaigns/programs you can give as examples?
DS:
Our survival is based on coming up with different media products and one of our core philosophies is “single effort/many units of content.” So if we’re hired to produce one video we’ll pitch more assets such as let’s turn it into highlights clips, transcripts, memes, photos, and more.
Here’s a good case study we did on a product we created called “Crowd-tooned”.
And here’s one of our most popular articles that speaks to our most popular production model: “21 Tips for Producing Funny ‘Man on the Street’ Videos”.

M7: What are the biggest mistakes you see new content marketers making consistently?
DS:
 Thinking you can be successful with one of anything. This whole attitude of “let’s try it with one and see how it works out” is a failed strategy out of the gate. In the entire history of media, with the exception of feature movies, no media brand becomes successful with one magazine issue, one radio show, one article, or one of anything. Why does a company that has no media experience whatsoever think they’re actually going to pull off what’s never happened in the history of media ever?


ABOUT SPARK MEDIA SOLUTIONS

Spark Media Solutions is a B2B content marketing agency for the tech industry. Content marketers that have perfected the model of building influencer relations through content. When dedicated to building an editorial voice, our clients have become the leading corporate media brand for their industry. We've worked with companies such as HP, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Juniper Networks, Symantec, Indycar, LinkedIn, Citrix, IDG, Dice, and many more. Our most popular service is live event reporting and production.

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The ePowertrain leverages market-leading technologies in the axle, motor and inverter, delivering performance, efficiency and packaging advantages at a competitive cost. Additionally, the PCAS provides power where needed and control of necessary sub-systems while reducing packaging size and simplifying integration. Cummins is adding an LFP battery to its line of lithium-ion battery products to expand support of electrified commercial vehicle applications. The LFP solution gives customers access to faster charging and longer-life batteries, targeting the medium-duty truck and school bus markets. By using a multi-chemistry strategy, Cummins is positioned to expand its manufacturing capacity further and diversify its supply chain, providing customers with more cost-effective electrification solutions. We are giving customers options to enable them to adapt to a zero-emissions future faster, said Brian Wilson, General Manager of Electrified Components at Cummins. With the recent acquisition of Meritor and our new multi-chemistry approach, we will be able to tailor our solutions and offer a one-stop-shop for customers' powertrain needs. Cummins' portfolio includes four batteries, each of which targets a different duty cycle and use case and complement each other. In addition to the LFP option, this includes three nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) batteries – the BP95E, BP74E and BP30E. The BP95E is Cummins’ next-generation solution that prioritizes greater energy density in applications for customers who need more weight-sensitive solutions or have longer ranges. The BP30E is ideal for meeting limited-space applications and rugged demands, and the BP74E is the foundation for Cummins’ BEV innovation and progress. About Cummins Inc. Cummins Inc., a global power leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from diesel, natural gas, electric and hybrid powertrains, and powertrain-related components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, batteries, electrified power systems, hydrogen generation and fuel cell products. Headquartered in Columbus, Indiana (U.S.), since its founding in 1919, Cummins employs approximately 59,900 people committed to powering a more prosperous world through three global corporate responsibility priorities critical to healthy communities: education, environment, and equality of opportunity. Cummins serves its customers online, through a network of company-owned and independent distributor locations, and through thousands of dealer locations worldwide and earned about $2.1 billion on sales of $24.0 billion in 2021. See how Cummins is powering a world that is always on by accessing news releases and more information at https://www.cummins.com/always-on.

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PROCUREMENT AND SOURCING,SUPPLY CHAIN

SymphonyAI Retail CPG Partners With PredictHQ To Improve Supply Chain Demand Forecasting AI Accuracy

SymphonyAI | September 22, 2022

SymphonyAI Retail CPG, a leading provider of end-to-end, integrated AI-powered merchandising, marketing, and supply chain solutions for retailers and CPG manufacturers, has announced a partnership and integration with PredictHQ, the demand intelligence company. Customers of SymphonyAI Retail CPG Supply Chain Demand Forecasting AI will benefit from more timely, accurate forecasting results through PredictHQ’s demand intelligence data.SymphonyAI Retail CPG provides AI-driven forecasting results, which show a vast accuracy and performance improvement over traditional statistical models. However, AI-driven solutions are only as good as the contextual data provided to them, and PredictHQ enhances the quality and quantity of that contextual data. By accessing PredictHQ event data along with other existing data used by SymphonyAI Retail CPG Demand Forecasting AI, retailers gain access to even greater accuracy and reliability in their forecasts. The partnership will result in PredictHQ’s verified and enriched event data being integrated into SymphonyAI Retail CPG’s forecasting systems. This will enable SymphonyAI Retail CPG’s customers in 17 countries to better preempt and prepare for the demand impact of events such as public holidays, school holidays, and observances. “Faced with unrelenting supply chain chaos, retailers and CPGs who use data-driven, AI-based solutions gain deep competitive advantage and measurable business results, Our industry-leading AI modeling provides superior forecasting for retail demand planning, so customers can optimize product availability and decrease out-of-stocks, waste, and spoilage, and gain deeper insights into sales patterns and anomalies. The partnership with PredictHQ will broaden access to rich, critical data within and outside customer organizations.” -Raj Marimuthu, chief customer success officer and GM of supply chain management at SymphonyAI Retail CPG. “As the pace of change in shopper demand patterns, market conditions, and supply chain constraints accelerates, demand forecasting AI that uses state-of-the-art models reduces guesswork and gives users a more strategic view,” said PredictHQ CEO Campbell Brown. “We are delighted to team with an AI innovator like SymphonyAI Retail CPG to enhance contextual data with seamless access to global and localized events, seasonality, weather, and more.” About PredictHQ PredictHQ, the demand intelligence company, empowers global organizations to anticipate changes in demand for their products and services. PredictHQ's demand intelligence API aggregates events from hundreds of sources and verifies, enriches, and ranks them by predicted impact so companies can proactively discover catalysts that will impact demand. With PredictHQ, businesses gain a leg up on the competition and remain confident in their ability to meet customers' ever-changing needs. About SymphonyAI SymphonyAI is building the leading enterprise AI company for digital transformation across the most important and resilient growth verticals, including retail, consumer packaged goods, finance, manufacturing, media, and IT service management. SymphonyAI verticals have many leading enterprises as clients. Since its founding in 2017, SymphonyAI has grown rapidly to 2,000 talented leaders, data scientists, and other professionals. SymphonyAI is an SAIGroup company, backed by a $1 billion commitment from Dr. Romesh Wadhwani, a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. About SymphonyAI Retail CPG SymphonyAI Retail CPG, a SymphonyAI vertical, is a leading provider of end-to-end, integrated AI-powered merchandising, marketing, and supply chain solutions for retailers and CPG manufacturers worldwide. Harnessing the power of AI, SymphonyAI Retail CPG solutions enhance agility, performance, and revenue growth across the retail value chain from source to consumer. Trusted by more than 1,200 leading retailers and manufacturers, SymphonyAI Retail CPG serves 15 of the top 25 global grocery retailers, the top 25 global CPG manufacturers, thousands of retail brands, and hundreds of national and regional chains. SymphonyAI Retail CPG is transforming retail and building a culture of contributing to positive change: SymphonyAI Retail CPG achieved 2022 Great Place to Work certification in all nine countries for which it was eligible.

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