Ahava Leibtag, president and owner of Aha Media Group, LLC, a content marketing consultancy, has a well earned reputation for expertise in content strategy. She formerly worked as a communications strategist for a government agency.
I invited Ahava to Marketing Smarts to talk about her book, The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web.
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:
Developing personas is like falling in love (06:13): When you're falling in love with somebody, you want to know everything about that person, what their childhood was like, what their favorite ice cream flavor is, what they like to do on a Sunday, what's their favorite position to sleep in. I mean, you really get down and gritty with details when you're falling in love with somebody, and I think that we should do the same with our personas. We should really try to understand as much as we can about them, and what their motivations are, what pain points they have in common with each other."
Don't just create your content: frame it (09:14): "The way that I think about content is that content is a conversation. It's a conversation in a marketplace, and in every marketplace there's a buyer and a seller. All organizations have to answer these five questions: To whom are we speaking? Who are we? What are we trying to say? How do we say it? And when and where do we say it? The "to whom are we speaking" is answered with the personas tool. Framing your content comes from the next three questions, which are 'who are we'...and there's a set of tools called 'Identity Pillars' where you try to ascertain what are the four phrases or words that best describe the brand currently in the marketplace, where the marketing team would like to shift the brand. Then [you create] sort of a grid, combining those two things. 'What are we trying to say' is a messaging architecture, and it takes those four identity pillars and it assigns factual sub-messaging to each of those."
"So, let's say a brand wants to say 'we're very active right now in the environment...' Coca Cola has a whole page on that on their website.... The responsibility of the people creating the messaging architecture would be to find four or five bullet points of facts: 'Coca Cola donates this amount of money every year to sustainability efforts,' or 'Coca Cola has seven bottling plants that are only using recycled materials.' So that helps to answer the 'what are we trying to say,' and the 'how are we going to say it' is voice and tone. Voice and tone really needs to come out of understanding the personas the the identity pillars, so that's what 'framing your content' is about. I compare it in the book to blueprints that an architect hands a contractor."
Email remains an important channel for content marketers (17:38): "If content is a conversation, then really what we're trying to do is building our target audience. That's what marketers are supposed to do: spark, create, and maintain relationships with target audiences. And there's nothing like reminding people that you want to have a conversation with them if you show up in their email inbox every couple of weeks, or even every couple of days, depending how you set your formulas. I think people think email marketing is dead because the technology has advanced to a place where people have better filters, and I think that's really the email marketer's own fault. If you send somebody an email every single day asking them for money, they're going to filter you out, or they're just going to hit 'delete' because they're not interested. But I think if you're wise and strategic about how you use email, and you again think through 'what are we trying to say,' 'who are we,' 'how do we provide value to people,' then I think it's still really important. And I just think having name recognition—having your name show up in somebody's inbox—just continues to nurture the relationship."
Ahava and I covered a lot more ground, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
This episode brought to you by the MarketingProfs Professional Development Program.
Music credit: Noam Weinstein.
Ahava Leibtag, president and owner of Aha Media Group, author of The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web.
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