Monday, July 28, 2014

The Donald Rumsfeld Guide to Content Marketing

"There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that, we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know.”
-Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense
February 12, 2002

The use of the above quote in no way demonstrates any allegiance to Donald Rumsfeld, or his thoughts on the Iraq war. Rather, his division on how we should contemplate decisions is intriguing. These four categories shine a light on the questions all marketers try to answer:

  • What do we know?
  • Are there things we don't yet know?
  • What can't we know?
  • Can we change anything?

As a content marketer, what are the things you know and how do you know them? How can those facts inform the critical facts you don't know? And, finally, how do you prepare for the unknown unknowns-what I liken to the fortune telling of content and marketing?


What You Just Can't Know

First, in any content marketing campaign, there are knowns. These are the questions you ask before you begin a campaign. The answers are available; they may require more market research, user testing, focus groups or other market research methods of gathering data, but you can answer these questions:
  1. Who are your targets?
  2. Where are your targets?
  3. What do they care about?
  4. What do they look like?
  5. Why are they connecting with you?

Here Comes the Source of Much Anxiety

How do you determine the known unknowns? What are the things you know you don't know? Is there a way to find those answers for questions that tend to look like this:
  1. Where are my targets (mentally) in the decision making or buying process?
  2. What content types are most important to them for this particular campaign?
  3. Will my messages resonate for potential customers?
  4. Will our content change their minds about us?
  5. Are we measuring the right types of engagement to know if the campaign was successful?


When you look at this list of questions, what jumps out at you?

The answers to these questions can be defined and transferred to the column of known knowns. You might consider performing content testing to answer #2 and #3. You could A/B test content to determine if you might refine your messaging to answer #4.  Or, better yet, you could refine your measurement metrics over time so that you can transfer #5 to the known knowns column.

Now what about the unknown unknowns?

Those are impossible to know. Could all the companies that used Tiger Woods as a spokesman have predicted his embarrassing affairs? Could the marketing execs at Southwest have magically peered into the future to see that Kevin Smith would get on one of their flights and be asked to buy an additional seat because he was considered obese? Could healthcare marketers who spent months planning cardiac cath campaigns have known that studies would show medicine might be just as effective as that procedure?
As a content marketer, your job is to sharpen the known knowns into needle-like points. Resolve the known unknowns you may be able to solve. And then trust that as long as there's no crystal ball for the stock market, there's no way you could be expected to have one.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to Manage an Identity Initiative, Redesign and Content Strategy All At Once

Aha Media Group and Johns Hopkins University worked together in a content strategy engagement while the university was undergoing an identity initiative and redesign.  Here are 5 recommendations and lessons learned presented by Ahava Leibtag and Lauren Custer at Confab Higher Ed:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How to Implement a Mobile Strategy that Works

What if you could create something so ingenious, and so smart, that you convinced your customers to carry you around in their pockets—top of mind, and top of device?  Here's how one company found a way...See if you can replicate their success in your space.

Filled a prescription lately? It's a lot easier than it used to be, but still annoying.

Many times, you have to bring in the slip of paper, drop it off, get information verified, wait, wait some more and then finally leave with something you need.

What if there were a brand that made it much easier? Wouldn't you be a converted customer for life?

Walgreens took that tactic when they learned that customers who accessed them on multiple channels were worth 3 times more in revenue. That’s a considerable amount of revenue for any company—so you can imagine how they jumped to leverage it.*

Could you do the same in your industry?

Embrace Youtility

First, when customers filled a prescription, the pharmacist would ask them if they wanted to receive a text when it was ready. Once Walgreens had customers’ SMS information, they could also text customers when it was ready to be refilled.

When Walgreens sent texts with the refill reminders, they also gave customers the opportunity to download the Walgreens app. The app has a barcode scanner, which scans the soon-to-be empty bottle. Forty percent of Walgreens consumers chose to download this app, resulting in multiple opportunities for the drugstore giant to communicate with consumers on a daily basis.

What Walgreens embraced was Youtility, a concept promoted by Jay Baer in his best-selling book of the same name. Youtility is about being useful to your customers so they continue to return to you to solve their problems.

Mobile Thinking

When it comes to mobile, too many marketers think narrowly about the customer experience. They want to port the entire desktop experience over to mobile, or they think of mobile as just another straight-up communication tool.

Mobile is so much more than that—it is a constant in all our lives. How do you harness this amazing power to stay in touch with your target audiences?  Your brand has the opportunity to ride around in your customer’s pocket and become a go-to problem solver. This power is immense, but you need to learn how to harness it.  Here’s how:

  1. Think about layering information you have with information readily available from other sources to take advantage of the power of mobile and produce something with true youtility.

  2. Don’t just think about what your brand offers; think of the solutions your brand can provide.

  3. Talk to your customers about how they might use some of the information you create. How can you channel that into an experience with multiple touch points that can genuinely make lives easier?

Thinking about how to use mobile effectively is challenging. But as always, start with your customers and their pain points. While they are on the go, how can you be their go-to problem solver?

*Hat tip to Jared Spool and Luke Wroblewski for sharing this anecdote on a recent UIE Brain Sparks-Podcast, “Mobile as a Medium.”

This first appeared in our newsletter, Content Ahas, which you can sign up for in the upper-right hand corner of this blog.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Make Sure your Hospital is Prepared for an Emergency

Summertime usually means hurricanes, strong storms and other natural disasters. If you're a healthcare marketer, it's a good idea to be prepared.

It’s important to understand that social media is simply a set of technologies that allow for the widespread distribution of content. We have talked about using social media to create a brand community; a community your audience returns to for trusted advice. How can you harness this power in good times and in bad?

Be Prepared for Almost Anything

Being prepared means planning ahead. Here are some tips for making sure you're ready for any type of emergency:
1. Content First: The best way to be prepared for an emergency is to have all your content prepared so you just have to make a few tweaks and press go. At least four times a year, your content teams should audit the critical information you need to have ready in case you experience an emergency. Content you should prepare includes:
· Where to go for help
· How to safely boil water 
· How to stay safe when power is out, including avoiding downed power lines and dealing with flooding
· Instructions for donating time or blood during a crisis
2. Get Creative: There are so many ways your content can help people in times of crises. Consider using your Facebook pages to publish important articles from around the local area on the emergency.  Add in ways your hospital is helping. Also, let people know about limited services at your healthcare system, including closings, cancellations and approximate wait times. You can give people important information before they leave home. It will prove invaluable to them, and help you keep your core services running smoothly.
3. Monitor your Social Media Properties: Have a plan in place so that your social media teams are able to monitor your lines during an emergency. That way they can answer and offer help when people have questions. Respond genuinely with sympathy, but don't give answers if you're not sure your information is correct. Brand communities are built on trust. Don't break that feeling of security and promise in an emergency situation; instead know who might have the right answer and direct your audience member to that resource. 
Having a crisis communications plan is a must for any healthcare system or hospital with a website.  Your information storefront is open 24/7. Make sure you're prepared, that you look like you're listening and be proactive when appropriate. Your audience will remember you and thank you for it at some point.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Youtility by Jay Baer: Book Review

The New York Times bestselling book, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype, just turned a year old. To celebrate, we decided to review the book for our readers.

First, Youtility is a fascinating concept: Be useful to your customers so that they continue to return to you to solve their problems. As Baer writes, “What if instead of trying to be amazing you just focused on being useful? What if you decided to inform, rather than promote? You know that expression “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime”? Well, the same thing is true for marketing: If you sell something you make a customer today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life.”

Baer gives some great examples of this, including:

  • Phoenix Children’s Hospital Car Seat Helper: This calculator in the form of an app  is invaluable for people in terms of removing indecision, a major stumbling stone for purchasers
  • Charmin’s Sit or Squat App: By providing people with an answer to a universal question, Charmin becomes top-of-mind when consumers are buying toilet and tissue paper
  • Ortho Problem Solver: By giving gardeners information about how to prevent and treat pests and lawn issues, the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company becomes the go-to-problem solver online for lawn enthusiasts

All of these applications find an ingenious and revolutionary way to layer information for people that they truly need. It doesn’t shove a product or brand down your throat; rather it competes for your attention by being helpful and useful. “Youtility doesn’t always require creating helpfulness from scratch. Taking what already exists and putting in an inherently more helpful format can be just as effective.”

Youtility helps customers and potential customers to make better decisions by:

  1. Giving them to the power to self-inform, like “What type of car seat is best for my child?”
  2. Providing answers to universal questions, like “Where is the nearest bathroom?”
  3. Utilizing other pieces of information to provide real-time information, like what is killing my roses?

Baer also points out that you have to provide promotional support to your Youtility, so people can know the information exists for them. He advocates for using social media to promote your Youtility as well as company employees, which tend to be an overlooked audience.  Baer also advocates that you use an iterative process, for as he points out, “Customer needs change; technology shifts and new and better ideas are conceived.”

Reading Youtility was an exercise in Youtility itself; it was useful, inspiring, entertaining and informative.

Recommended for:
  • Digital marketers
  • User experience professionals
  • Customer experience professionals
  • Inbound and content marketing professionals

Have you read Youtility? Share your thoughts with us here.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Why I'll Never Apologize Again

When my daughter was four months old, I cracked a crown and needed a tooth removed. After the procedure, I developed a painful condition called dry socket. The oral surgeon on call was not very nice, and didn't want to treat me over the weekend. When I spoke to my own surgeon on Monday, he said, “I apologize that this happened to you.”

How do you think I felt?


How do your customers feel when they get a toneless apology communication from you?


Say You’re Sorry and Mean It

There’s tons of research on this—how saying “I’m sorry” is far different from saying “I apologize.” Saying “I’m sorry” makes you sound humble and is appropriate for any situation. Saying “I apologize” sounds like you’re removed from the situation. "Hey, too bad you suffered all weekend with a hideously painful condition, but what did you expect from me?"

It's important to say “I’m sorry”—or, in the case of your business content, “We’re sorry”—so here are a few tips for how to set voice and tone:

  1. Recognize tonality changes based on a situation: Your product information or company 'About Us' pages may have any voice that reflects your brand: funny, dry, sophisticated, academic or bright. But your legal, compliance and contact pages should be straightforward and helpful. Don’t make people read twice to find out how to complain or get in touch with you.
  2. Choose to be kind rather than  right: The customer is always right, even on the Internet. In highly regulated industries, you may need to check with your attorneys on how to apologize and say you’re sorry without creating a litigious nightmare. As much as possible, be sincere when you may have done something wrong. Customers will appreciate your kindness much more than you standing on ceremony.
  3. Read your content aloud and show it to a friend: If you are crafting "I’m sorry" emails or pages, then you need to make sure they sound sincere and appropriate. Read the content out loud to your team. Have a friend in a totally different industry read it for his or her take. You never know when a term you use consistently within your niche may sound arrogant or out of place to a consumer.

Want to learn more about how we take companies through creating voice and tone? Watch this webinar from Mozinar: Find Your Brand’s Personality: Tips for Voice and Tone (Please see May 20th 2014.)

This first appeared in our newsletter, Content Ahas, which you can sign up for in the upper-right hand corner of this blog.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The 6 Steps for Creating Valuable Content

Ahava Leibtag talks with Jason Swenk about the six steps for creating valuable content to help you reach your target audience and increase your impact.

The 6 Steps to Making Content Valuable

#1 – Findable. Make sure that you are utilizing appropriate keywords so your target audience a find you. Also think about how your content relates to other content. If someone is looking for a dresser, they may also be looking for a headboard.

#2 – Readable. We’ve all seen it – bad web writing. Keep your content short, and with the most important points at the top. People just don’t read long-form content anymore, so don’t have giant chunks of text.

#3 – Understandable. It seems like a no-brainer, but you need to have your content easy to read, and not only you talking about yourself. Make sure it is relevant to your audience. Show them that you understand their pain points.

#4 – Actionable. Include clear calls to action in your content so the reader knows what to do next. Content exists for two reasons: because it supports business objectives, and because it helps users accomplish their tasks. You want the person consuming your content to feel comfortable performing the action that you want them to do.

#5 – Shareable. This does not mean going viral. Sharable content fills a need, is well executed, and simple to understand. It’s the kind of content that can jump from the hands of the person that has it, right into the hands of the person who needs it.

#6 – Mobile. It’s clear mobile is huge in content and social marketing, but Ahava hasn’t quite finalized its place. Since mobile can be standalone and fit within each of the other checklist items look for more to come in the future.

Want to learn more?