How to Simplify Your Digital Marketing and Content Strategy (Hint: Include a Villain)

Last month I had the pleasure of attending the Digital Summit in Tampa, Florida. Our team occasionally attends revenue cycle and health IT conferences so the marketing nerd in me was looking forward to this one!

I popped in and out of sessions for the two-day experience, hoping to get new ideas related to content strategy and digital marketing. Digital Summit Tampa did not disappoint.

The very first speaker to hit the stage was Ric Flair. Before you disregard the subject matter expertise at this event, it’s important to note that a smart vendor, The Hoth, partnered with the wrestling champion to say a few words before the keynote. Nature Boy was also available for photos and a lot of WOOO!!throughout the exhibit hours. From the vendor perspective, it resulted in a solid amount of booth traffic so hats off to The Hoth. You can learn more about this unlikely duo here.

Enough about wrestling, back to marketing. The topics I chose were specific to content creation, email strategy, thought leadership and email automation. Some sessions were excellent reminders to liven up my approach to content. For instance, in Tyler Farnsworth’s session, Conflict, What Is It Good For? Absolutely Everything, he preached the importance of standing out. “Be unboring!” he said. Tyler encouraged the audience to be storytellers, not salespeople, and to do something remarkable. As he put it, “Creativity happens in response to a problem, not a solution.”

This prompted me to think about conflict and resolution with the projects I’m working on. Does the content you’re currently developing set the stage for a real problem faced by your audience? Do you answer their problem in a unique way? A quick content audit might expose a lack of conflict so I encourage you to analyze your content library.

Here are three steps to create some conflict in your content strategy:

  1. FIND CORE TRUTHS. You can do this with research. You can also talk to your customers. What problems do they have? What keeps them up at night? It’s best to have these conversations in person but if that’s not possible, an hour on the phone can deliver a month’s worth of material.
  2. FIND THE TENSION. Find a villain. For instance in healthcare, villains that come to mind are insurance and high drug costs. For technology, we think of hackers. These are obvious examples but you get the idea of how to get the wheels turning. Your tension doesn’t have to be with a competitor. It can be something else in your industry. Just like core truths, tension is uncovered in customer conversations.
  3. BUILD A PLATFORM. Create a concept with “legs” that you can build from. Just a couple examples are the Allstate Mayhem campaign and the Twix left versus right campaign. These are marketing campaigns with lasting power due to the storytelling platforms they were built on.

Another great session was centered on digital marketing. Healthcare IT marketing isn’t known for being a digital powerhouse so it was fun to hear about a B2C company’s journey. The speaker was Ivonne Kinser, head of digital marketing for Avocados From Mexico. Yes, Ivonne’s job is to make sure everyone eats and loves avocados from Mexico. Sign me up!

In Ivonne’s session, Digital Marketing Unlearned, she broke down her digital marketing approach to just three rules:

  1. UNLEARN. Stop the practice of doing something just because that’s how it has always been done. Meaning, stop chasing clicks! Are you guilty of this? I know I am. Ivonne encourages us to take a different approach using new metrics to bring life to marketing plans. She showed metrics specific to her organization’s Super Bowl campaign. Beyond new followers, her team gathered information on conversations, hashtags and photos showcasing their product—an impressive portfolio. Even if your metrics don’t capture the behavior of millions of football fans, start by brainstorming new marketing goals you want to achieve and accounts your sales team dreams of winning. Then talk with your team about incremental steps to get you there. No ideas are off limits, the point is to “unlearn” past practices and approach your strategy from a different angle. You might land on a previous great idea that was poorly executed. Bring it back to life.
  2. USE GENERALISTS INSIDE YOUR COMPANY AND SPECIALISTS OUTSIDE. I know many marketers may disagree with this rule but the speaker was a big advocate. She strongly encouraged the outsourcing of agency partners for SEO, website, public relations and social media. It ties back to her rule #1 when you think about it. Generalists approach digital marketing from a different angle other than the “been there, done that” attitude that’s so prevalent with specialist marketing teams.
  3. TIE ALL MARKETING ACTIVITIES TO COMPANY GOALS. All of them. I respect and live by this rule because it removes speculation and opinions from marketing decisions. Job satisfaction gets a little boost when even the most in-the-weeds “will anyone ever even notice if I change this subject line” task is tied to overarching company goals. This rule is also aligned with Pragmatic Marketing principles—basic training for us at Ten22.

To summarize, this conference served as a good opportunity to leave my remote office for a few days and mingle with like-minded marketing peers. Compared with other marketing events, the price is extremely reasonable considering the quality of information presented. After 30 days I’m still recalling my notes, so my advice is to attend a Digital Summit in a city near you.

Finally, a special shout-out to a HITMC peer who recommended this event! I’d love to hear from anyone else who attended a Digital Summit in their area. And please suggest other marketing conferences you think are worth attending. Send me a note:

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