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Vishal Khanna: Blending Craft and Passion into Content

The 2015 winner of CMI’s coveted Content Marketer of the Year award on balancing enthusiasm and perfection.

It wasn’t just any award to Vishal Khanna.
The digital marketing director at Wake Forest Innovations in Winston-Salem, N.C., already has enough accolades to put on his impressive resume. But being honored by his peers as the best in content marketing was really special.
And it showed on his face as he walked onstage at Content Marketing World in Cleveland last September to accept his award for Content Marketer of the Year from the Content Marketing Institute. Khanna beat out an impressive lists of finalists, including marketers from Ikea, Marriott and GoPro.
Back in 2012, Khanna launched the first formal marketing program at Wake Forest Innovations, the commercial arm of Wake Forest University and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. According to statistics from the Content Marketing Institute, his content marketing efforts resulted in 600% more web-based leads, a 183% increase in interactions, 100% revenue increase and a 100% increase in trade show traffic.
Khanna credits his success to Wake Forest Innovations’ management letting him try new things as well as the hard work of his team. But the main reason for his success is his passion for content marketing.
Here are his three tips for content marketers:

Perfect the craft of content marketing

Khanna says content marketing is a craft. Content marketers know this but it’s important to continue to perfect that craft to be great at what you do. “Doctors take courses to learn new strategies for surgery, and we do the same when we embrace the craft of content marketing,” says Khanna. “The craft really is understanding the structure of how this piece of content must be formatted to reach the right component and convert that persona into a buying customer,”

Inject passion into the content

Content marketing can’t just focus on craft. Khanna said the secret is focusing on the craft of creating content while interjecting passion into the content. It’s often hard to find (or see) the passion while focusing on the nitty-gritty of content marketing – metrics, ROI and lead generation.
Khanna says Wake Forest Innovations has as its primary goal to improve health worldwide, which fuels his passion. “For me, it’s being a part of something that is ultimately altruistic, even though the role I play is purely about the economics of the relationship between academia and industry,” he says. “Ultimately, it’s contributing to something that has some purpose or goal that’s larger than me.”

Take action whenever possible

Taking action whenever possible is one of the most important traits to develop. But he knows that it’s not as easy as it sounds because content marketers are always trying to figure out when a piece of content is good enough to push into the world.
“You can edit any piece of content 1,000 times. But each time you edit, the piece of content is not out in the world doing its job, which is to engage readers,” says Khanna. “I think that you can’t hold onto your content too long. You have to be willing to take that risk, let go of ownership and let the piece of content live out in the world.”

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