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#CMWorld Interview: Amanda Todorovich Dishes on Creating Impactful Content for Healthcare

Each year, Content Marketing World receives hundreds of nominations for the coveted Content Marketer of the Year award. Past winners include Vishal Khanna of Wake Forest Innovations (2015), Bryan Rhoads, Intel Digital Media Labs (2014) and Julie Fleischer of Kraft Foods Group (2013).

In 2016, this award went to another truly deserving content marketer, Amanda Todorovich Director of Content Marketing, Cleveland Clinic. Amanda and her team at the Cleveland Clinic have proven that content marketing really works for healthcare organizations. In fact, their blog has been named as the most visited hospital blog in the entire country!

If you’re like me, you likely wondered “How does she do it?”. Fortunately for you (and myself), I was able to steal away some of Amanda’s valuable time to gain insights into everything from how her team has managed to develop such a successful content strategy to what an average day looks like in her world.

So buckle up and get ready for liftoff as Amanda tells us more about her approach in her own words.

What does your role as Director of Content Marketing at Cleveland Clinic entail? What does your day look like? What do you like best?

I lead a team of 25 amazing people! We create and distribute content in support of enterprise goals and priorities. We manage our consumer and physician blogs as well as social media, email marketing, print publications, and branding. We publish 3-5 articles on both blogs every day and do about 2500+ additional projects per year. Every day is different, but I make a point of touching base with each work group every week in a quick stand-up meeting, and then I also do a full staff meeting every week. I spend a lot of time representing our team in meetings with key stakeholders and leaders from across the enterprise.


Frequent interaction with various team members is my favorite part of the job. @amandatodo
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My team teases me because they can hear me coming because I tend to walk pretty fast from cube to cube… I tend to run around our office a lot and talk to team members about projects or ideas throughout the day. This frequent interaction with various team members is my favorite part of the job. The result of this close collaboration is an incredibly engaged team that is delivering amazingly creative high quality content day-in and day-out.

How do you believe your communications and media relations experience has impacted your approach to marketing?

My background in communications and media relations is exactly what I think has made me a successful content marketer. Content marketing is about communicating with your customers in a compelling and engaging way, and it’s about great storytelling. And, that is really the heart of PR, too. I built my “nose for news” and understanding of what makes a great story/piece of content very early in my career. The biggest difference between doing traditional media relations and what I do now is that I’m focused on telling our own stories and growing our own audiences for our brand vs. working with media outlets to tell our story for us to their audiences.

How does your team go about developing a content strategy that balances the needs of the brand and the target audience (patients)?

It starts and ends with identifying the goals of the content marketing program. For us, the big overarching goal of our work is to increase national brand awareness for Cleveland Clinic. So, with that in mind, our content strategy is really driven by the desire to be useful, helpful and relevant to people all over the country (and even the world). We always filter requests and content needs with that lense – would someone in California who’s never heard of Cleveland Clinic find value in this story? If yes, we do it. If not, we will likely recommend a different path. We are an extremely data-driven team, so we have the insights to know what our audiences like and engage with most heavily. That drives our daily decisions around what content to publish and when. We talk about the numbers every day.

When only 40% of B2C marketers have a documented content strategy and only 28% say that their content is very effective, why do you think having a defined content marketing strategy is essential for success?

Having a documented content strategy is truly like having a road map or GPS system with a clear destination identified. What are you trying to do and how are you going to get there? It’s crucial. As a content marketer, you are faced with tons of decisions every day – what to write about, when to publish, where to distribute, visuals, etc. – and if you don’t have that strategy in place, you are making it up as you go. That’s dangerous and an irresponsible use of the resources you are utilizing to do this work. Without a strategy, how do you know what success looks like? What are you working towards? Who are writing for?


A content strategy is like a road map or GPS system w/ a clear destination identified. @amandatodo
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The documented strategy drives you forward and keeps the team focused moving in the same direction.

What are the 3 most important things marketers need to do to develop a comprehensive content marketing strategy?

  1.       Know what success looks like. What’s the goal? Write it down.
  2.       Identify your personas. Who are you creating for? Personify them. Make them your universe.
  3.       Bring data to the table. What data do you have that can inform your approach? Don’t just guess.

What do you see as the biggest content marketing opportunity that many marketers aren’t taking full advantage of?

Content personalization and marketing automation. I think there is so much more we can be doing in these areas. Most of us produce so much content, and we’ve been focused on content creation for so many years that we haven’t even realized the value of the arsenal we’ve been building. There are so many ways to serve up content to people in very personal and hyper-relevant ways along their buyer journey, and I don’t think enough of us are doing this very well.

Has there been a defining moment in your career that you credit for your success and if so, what was it?

In 2009, I made the transition from traditional PR to exploring digital publishing and content marketing. I took a big leap and joined an infant start-up company, MedCity News, as VP of business development. 99% of my job were things I had never done before. I had no choice but to figure it out and learn from others. It completely changed the course of my career. I had the opportunity to build a company from scratch, and nearly everything I did in my time there has helped me become the content marketer that I have at Cleveland Clinic. The constant drive to do more, be better, and think bigger absolutely comes from those crazy start-up days. The experience completely changed me.

Do you have any advice for other marketers who are making the transition from content creation and strategy to a marketing leadership role like yours?

Become an incredible listener – listen to your team members, listen to the data, listen to your leadership. Understand your business and help your team understand. Let creators create. Let thinkers and strategists think. My job as a leader is to share a vision and set the tone for the team – not to tell them HOW to do their jobs all day. Stay on top of trends and industry best practices – they change all the time, and you need to be the one to keep your team on their toes. Ask questions, especially “what if?”


Listen to your team members, listen to the data, listen to your leadership. @amandatodo
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In your presentation at Content Marketing World you’ll be sharing the inside story of how your organization consistently drives web traffic and builds an audience. Without giving it all away, what are 3 things attendees will learn from your session? Also, can you share some information about the Cleveland Clinic Health Summit that will be taking place as part of CMWorld 2017?

  1.       How to step up your content distribution strategies. We now have 2 million Facebook likes (more than any other hospital) – hear how and why that matters to us.
  2.       How you can scale your content marketing team/efforts. We went from 3 people to 25 in two years.
  3.       Yes, you can monetize your content marketing efforts! I’ll share how we are and how we got to that point.

The Content Marketing World Cleveland Clinic Health Summit is something I am SUPER PUMPED about! We have partnered with the Content Marketing Institute to offer a full-day program for healthcare content marketers instead of the traditional hospitals industry lab on the Friday of Content Marketing World (September 8th). This event will feature several Cleveland Clinic speakers, and a keynote from Google and presentations from Verywell, Staywell and others. There will be break-out sessions focused on SEO, content engineering, the latest trends in healthcare digital marketing, and more. I’ll also be presenting specifically on scaling your content marketing efforts. We’re offering a cocktail reception and tours of Cleveland Clinic’s main campus on Thursday, September 7th as well. For more details and to register, go here:

Which speaker presentations are you looking forward to most at Content Marketing World 2017?

This is so hard! I have so many friends presenting this year. I’m very excited for Jay Acunzo’s keynote. Jay is awesome and his messages always really resonate with me, and he was last year’s highest rated breakout speaker last year. I love his Unthinkable podcast, and I always learn something from him. I’m excited to hear Margaret Magnarelli. I met her last year when we were both finalists for Content Marketer of the Year, and her work at Monster is incredible. I’m also very happy to see the new writing track – Ann Handley and Ahava Leibtag are always awesome to hear.

Want More?

Thank you Amanda for sharing all of your great marketing insights!

Feel free to also check out our first interview in this CMWorld series featuring Buyer Persona Institute CEO, Adele Revella.

If you’re looking for even more from Amanda, Adele and other amazing CMWorld speakers, be sure to check out the first eBook in our series, The In-Flight Content Guide: Prepping for Your Content Marketing Expedition.



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What Content Marketers Can Learn From an Adept Dungeon Master

Content Marketing Lessons from Dungeons & Dragons

Content Marketing Lessons from Dungeons & Dragons

It’s probably not news to you that 91% of B2B brands use content marketing to attract, engage, nurture, and convert their audience. However, it might be surprising to learn that only 9% of those brands rate their content marketing as “sophisticated.” Sophisticated meaning that their content marketing is successful, scales across the organization, and provides accurate measurement to the business. This puts a lot of pressure on content marketers to elevate their game and provide more worthwhile and valuable content experiences.

Patrick PinedaAs an adept Dungeon Master (DM) of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) games, TopRank Marketing’s Motion Graphic Designer, Patrick Pineda, can relate.

It might sound a little odd at first, but Dungeon Masters and content marketers are more alike than you think. Responsible for creating meaningful and memorable experiences through content that takes people on a journey, you can see the similarities arise. Just like content marketers need to help guide people through the buyer journey, the Dungeon Master needs to guide players through a journey of their own.

After serving his friends as the go-to Dungeon Master, Patrick has learned a thing or two from creating lengthy campaigns—some successful, some not—that are both engaging and challenging. Discover Patrick’s lessons from the dungeon and how you can apply them to your content marketing campaigns and programs down below.

What Is a Dungeon Master?

For the unfamiliar, a Dungeon Master is the organizer for the wildly popular, 40-year-old tabletop role-playing game, “Dungeons & Dragons.” Not only do DMs organize the game, but they are also responsible for the game rules, details, and challenges. According to Patrick, the player experience hinges on a DM’s ability to create meaningful content that’s fun to explore.

One thing Dungeon Masters are not responsible for, however, are the players’ actions.

Like the self-directed buyers of today, D&D players are able to choose their own paths. As a result, DMs are challenged to make sure players finish the game. And just like your audience won’t read every piece of content you put in front of them, the same happens in a D&D game. Certain story elements DMs put together will never see the light of day because every player has a different play style, completes tasks in different orders, and takes different actions.

“The best Dungeon Master doesn’t just create a good story, but they also help players reach their goals,” Patrick claims.

Does any of this sound familiar? It certainly resonated for me.

5 Content Marketing Lessons From the Dungeon

Having created D&D campaigns that ruled and bombed, here are Patricks top five tips for developing content that resonate with your audience.

#1 - Your audience values originality.

If Patrick creates a campaign that plays to common tropes like a damsel in distress or small town disappearances, the story becomes predictable. But worse than that, the players feel condescended to as the game starts to feel dumbed down.

“Cliches and stereotypes will make players groan. It’s important when creating a campaign that I shake it up and play against common conventions,” Patrick says.

When examining your content and the story you’re trying to tell, it’s just as important to stay original and play with your audience’s expectations. For example, listicles with social media tips are a dime a dozen. Your audience might be more interested if you flip the idea on its head with social media mistakes. In changing it up, you’re giving your audience something new that they haven’t read before, capturing their interest.

[bctt tweet="When examining your content & the story you’re trying to tell, it’s just as important to stay original & play with your audience’s expectations. - @aleuman4 #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Appeal to curiosity.

When it comes to creating an adventure for players to navigate, the DM has a seemingly impossible job. They need to create a unique and compelling world that is able to hold players’ attention—something not easily done. In fact, campaigns have taken Patrick days to put together. But that doesn’t come without its drawbacks.

“I’ve spent hours upon hours creating content for a campaign. But 80% of what I create may never see any playtime. It’s ultimately the players’ choice as to what tasks they want to complete and what quests they want to go on,” Patrick points out.

While the D&D world needs to have a unique and compelling narrative, it also needs to appeal to a player’s curiosity to ensure they keep playing the game and play the parts of the game that you want them to.

How does this apply to content marketing? Well, as you know, just because you’re producing content, doesn’t mean that your audience will find it. To find the answers they’re looking for, they might scour the internet, social media, and trusted experts for more information. Having an integrated content strategy that has multiple touch points throughout the buyer journey and an omni-channel approach, helps ensure you’re reaching your target audience whenever and wherever they may be searching.

Weaving SEO, social media, and influencer marketing into your content marketing strategy helps improve the reach and engagement of the content you’re producing. Through SEO, your organic rankings and click-through-rates will start to rise, improving your organic traffic. Social media messages that are well written and value-based help attract larger audiences from their social feeds. And, finally, tapping into industry influencers exposes your content to a wider network of like-minded individuals, as well as adding authority and credibility.

#3 - Avoid corraling your audience.

Nobody likes to be told what to do, including D&D players. While the DM writes the game and serves as a referee, they cannot influence a player’s actions. And if a DM attempts to, they could quickly lose a player’s interest.

“As a DM, it can be tempting to intervene and make sure that your players are playing the game the way you intended. But this is the one thing you cannot do.” Patrick emphasizes.

This is true in content marketing, too, as making calls to action (CTAs) with zero context can be a turn-off for your audience. If you insert a CTA before your audience can learn what’s in it for them, whether it’s downloading an eBook, listening to a podcast, or subscribing to your blog, they’re less likely to do it. In fact, QuickSprout found that placing a CTA above the fold on a page decreased their conversion rate by 17% and attributed it to their audience not fully understanding why they should complete the action.

Instead, make sure that your CTAs have plenty of context and explain what the audience will gain by filling out your form, reading another blog post, etc. This helps ensure that your content satisfies your audience’s quest for knowledge.

#4 - Customize content for your audience, not the other way around.

As we mentioned previously, the players are in charge of their actions and how they choose to play the game, making it impossible for DMs to have control over the game experience. This makes it important for DMs to know their audience ahead of time, so they can include important sought-after details into different game components.

“I’ll ask players before we start what they hope to get out of the game, whether it’s take down an enemy or just to have fun. Knowing this ahead of time, I can tailor the game to what each player wants to have happen,” Patrick says.

For content marketers, this lesson should hit close to home. You need to know your audience well in advance in order to deliver personalized content. If you create content and worry about your audience later, chances are you aren’t engaging the right people.

After taking a look at your own audience’s characteristics and interests in Google Analytics, create unique personas for each of your audience members. This allows you to create content that is tailored for each person you hope to attract and engage. For example, if one of your target personas is a Director of Business Development, creating custom content that addresses a unique pain points like identifying new business opportunities or tips from the experts on how to strengthen their existing client relationships.

[bctt tweet="If you create content and worry about your audience later, chances are you aren’t engaging the right people. - @aleuman4 #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#5 - Chart your course.

There is a lot going on in a D&D game. And for the DM, that number is amplified as you have to remember every detail about your players, what’s been completed, and what could come next.

“To make sure I’m on top of the game and can portray characters well, I chart the game’s relationships instead of story elements. If I focus on the story, it could quickly become useless as players might do things out of order or in a non-linear fashion. By focusing on the relationships and where they fit in the narrative, the game becomes more fluid and flexible for the players and I can keep track of their journey,” Patrick says.

Tracking the journey isn’t the only thing Patrick notes, however. He also documents player strengths, weaknesses, and stats as the game progresses.

“I keep a character sheet that details each player’s play style. For example, if a player is investing their skill points in intelligence, I can tailor future encounters in the game to focus on problem-solving instead of combat. The opposite is true for a player who invests in raw strength,” Patrick notes.

Through detailed charts, maps, and grids, Patrick is able to make sure that his players have a personalized, seamless experience for every campaign they play, regardless of how they play it.

Customer Journey & Dungeons and Dragons Journey

By taking the same approach with your content marketing, you can identify opportunities for customization and develop a strategy for weaving your content into the buyer’s journey. For example, by knowing which pieces of content attract a larger audience or drive more conversions, you can use that information to inform your content development and map your content to different stages of the funnel (see below).

Grid Assigning Content to Buyer Stages

To collect this data on your content and audience, review your Google Analytics behavior and conversion dashboards to find our which pieces of content excel at attracting, engaging, or converting your audience. Metrics like page views and entrances are good indicators for attraction, whereas time on page or number of pages per session can help you understand engagement. And, finally, the number of conversions through conversion tracking is the best way to find your top converting content. Armed with this knowledge you can create content plans that are tailored for your audience’s unique buyer journey.

Your Audience Is the Hero

A good Dungeon Master enables players to become the hero of the story through a personalized game with a compelling, original narrative. As a content marketer, it’s your responsibility to create content that transforms your audience into heroes as well, helping them solve seemingly impossible problems with your expert, best-answer advice.

Through an integrated content strategy with originality, personalization, and “best answer” content that’s mapped to the buyer journey, you can become the perfect Content Master for your audience.

For more ideas on how to become a masterful content marketer, check out these 25 content marketing tips, including how to tackle writer’s block, repurpose content, utilize storytelling, and more.

The post What Content Marketers Can Learn From an Adept Dungeon Master appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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