How to Strengthen Your Digital Marketing and Content Strategy (Hint: Ditch Your Cape)

I was so pleased with Digital Summit Tampa last year (you can catch my 2018 recap here) that I decided to attend again this year. It’s a great value and in my back yard of Tampa. Just like last year, the two-day event was packed with digital marketing sessions ranging from content, analytics, email and social media to every topic in between.

I’d like to note that last year’s recap focused on how to simplify your digital marketing and content strategy but this year my takeaways paint a picture of how to strengthen your efforts.

There were many great speakers so it’s hard for me to share just a few pieces. Here are several standouts that really stuck with me and I hope they do the same for you.

Shape Brand Perception Through Storytelling

Ben Tamblyn is responsible for leading corporate storytelling at Microsoft, so it made perfect sense that he was the Digital Summit’s opening keynote speaker. Ben shared a powerful example of how brand stories can tap into emotion and leave a lasting impression. This video clip about Microsoft’s work on Project Emma moved me to tears. Microsoft didn’t dedicate the campaign to its technology’s functionality, features and benefits because, as Ben explains, products make for crappy stories. People tell stories.

Earn Customer Trust by Ditching Your Hero Cape

I think it’s important to share my notes from another speaker, Veronica Romney. Veronica is a consultant for personal and professional brands and her message resonated with me so much. She stressed the importance of being a guide, not the hero of your customer’s story. She took the old inside-out “me, me, me” approach to marketing and flipped it upside down. I particularly appreciated the “great guide” examples she shared to strengthen her argument for being a guide instead of a hero:

  • Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz. Since his early days, Fishkin’s mission has been to help guide people through the labyrinth of SEO with 10-minute whiteboard videos. He has never strayed from his format or approach.
  • Tony Robbins, life coach. Love him or hate him, Tony carries what every guide must have—authority and empathy. These two pieces combined have made Robbins a billionaire who is worshipped across the world. Veronica believes a true guide has the authority to encourage a person’s ambition and the empathy to combat their frustration.

A few other honorable mentions where the hero meets guide and hero wins include Yoda, Haymitch Abernathy and Rocky Balboa. With each of these examples and when thinking about your own abilities, Veronica stresses that the power is in your ability to guide others to their deserving success, not your own.

The power is in your ability to guide others to their deserving success, not your own.

Find Your Doris for Brand Consistency

Aside from a shift in mindset from hero to guide, your brand voice should be consistent. Veronica shared what I thought was a great example of consistency—Warren Buffett’s style of writing. He writes every single letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders as if he’s writing to his older sisters. And he’s never wavered from this approach. Buffett’s writing strategy helps make the advice included throughout his archive of letters applicable to investors at every level. He shares wisdom that nearly anyone can understand, on topics ranging from why it’s smart to invest for the long haul to why you shouldn’t panic when the market tanks.

I particularly loved this example because in healthcare technology, attention to audience understanding of acronyms, credentials and assumptions often gets lost. The result is confusion and unfortunately, distrust. 

Mr. Buffett teaches us to find our own Doris (his oldest sister) in our brand voice and stay consistent. As Veronica says, a consistent brand voice helps you connect, consistently.

Fall Out of Love with Your Product or Service

This one really hit home for me. In an era where the marketing voice that speaks the loudest is heard, Veronica says no. She warns not to fall in love with your product or service. Instead she’d like us all to fall in love with our person, our customer.

Netflix realized early on that even though I might love romantic comedies, my husband wasn’t waiting by the mailbox for that DVD delivery. He had his own agenda, his own movie preferences and viewing habits. Netflix saw their person and they are worshipped by households across the world, including mine. We should all consider this when we get too focused on our product or service. Let’s follow Netflix and fall in love with our person, our people, our customers.

Dan Gilgoff manages print and digital content for AARP but previously worked with National Geographic and several other notable news sources. From his journalist perspective, Gilgoff shared these six tips for differentiating message and content to break through the noise:

  1. Be you
  2. Be distinctly you (be different)
  3. Tell a story
  4. Express a point of view
  5. Tailor your message to your platform
  6. Break big moments up into small ones. Dan’s editorial team broke news about the first-ever 3,000-foot solo climb into multiple formats and types of content. The Nat Geo team strategically shared audio, video, a live interview at the top of El Capitan and much more across various media and over a longer stretch of time. I took a mental note to be more thoughtful with content versus a once-and-done mentality.

Digital Summit Tampa did not disappoint, and I look forward to attending next year’s event. Hopefully some of these tips are helpful as you begin plans for 2020 marketing, public relations and superior storytelling. I’d love to know if there’s a specific nugget from these sessions that speaks to you. Please share by sending me a note on Twitter or Linkedin.

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