MIMA Interview with Patty Radford Henderson

On June 15, MIMA will host Patty Radford Henderson, who will present a three-hour workshop titled “A Data-Driven Approach to Content Strategy and Brand Building.”  In case you were wondering how to prepare or you didn’t sign-up in time (it’s already sold out!), we asked Patty for her insights as well as something about her we’d be surprised to know.

MIMA:  What is a data-driven approach to producing content and how does it differ from other approaches?

Patty:  Instead of starting with a blank page, you start with data that is readily available to develop a strategy based on what your customer’s needs are and what they are interested in and engaging with. It seems that most companies’ content is focused on their products and services and my approach is more customer centric.

My methodology, which I call Topic Mapping™ is based on gaining a keen understanding of your customer’s needs and intent through the analysis of search and social data. Basically, you’re tapping into the biggest focus group possible and the best part is that it is truly natural, organic, real time behavior that you are analyzing.

MIMA:  Do you have an example of how it would work?

Patty: Yes.  Let’s say you sell moisturizer – so you create and socialize content and optimize your website for the keyword “moisturizer.”  Problem is – this is exactly what all your competitors are doing. When a potential customer does a search for “moisturizer” (roughly 22,000 Google searches a month) you are lost in the crowd fighting for the sale.

With this process, you think through your customer’s decision-making process and build a map of their journey as a model, you put your customer at the center of your strategy and shift the focus to the concern your customer is looking to remedy, “dry skin” (also 22,000 Google searches a month.) As an authority on dry skin you can be a source of insight and information on how to solve the issue holistically – e.g. by drinking plenty of water, using a humidifier in winter, etc. You can even break down the nutrients used to most effectively remedy dry skin.

When your potential customer does a search, you get positioned as an authority on dry skin and its remedies with little to no brand competition. By being helpful you start to build a relationship with your potential customer and your authority on the topic instills trust that you can solve their dry skin issues. Scanning social channels for engagement related to “dry skin” will help you identify the channels where the topic resonates along with the type of content that is most engaging.

MIMA:  I’ve heard from content producers that their employers are just having them churn out content – volume over quality, content for the sake of content – and they aren’t even sure any of their customers are consuming it.  They start to wonder about the point of it all and furthermore, their managers won’t assign resources to content that might be more exciting or beneficial like video.  What is your answer to that?

Patty: You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Slow down the production engine and take a step back. Establish key performance indicators and create a dashboard to review monthly. Look up industry benchmarks to see how your efforts rate. Do more of what is working, and cut out what isn’t. Push the reset button if you need to and do some digging to validate your ideas with search and social data. In addition, ensure that you are following best practices for optimizing your content for shareability as well as for discovery via search engines. 

MIMA: What will people get out of the workshop with you and is there anything that attendees can do to prepare?

Patty: I’ll be walking through my proven process step-by-step. I’ll show examples and explain how it all fits together – research, analysis, strategy and execution. To prepare, participants should review and bring any reporting they have associated with their content efforts – website, email, social – for the last six months. If they don’t have any data, I’d suggest they do a manual review – for example identifying what posts on Instagram and Facebook get the most shares and comments, and what doesn’t get any. And if they have a documented brand strategy that would be helpful to have on hand as they could do a gap analysis with the methodology I recommend.

MIMA:  Anything you can tell us about yourself that would surprise us?

Patty: My first paid job in marketing was creating a weekly employee newsletter for Dayton’s in Downtown St. Paul.  I was waiting tables at the River Room and my boss Mr. J introduced me to the store manager because I was working on a marketing degree. I was hired on as the editor, writer, designer, and publisher of the newsletter. I designed it on the very first Apple Macintosh computer, my roommate’s Mac Classic Desktop PC, which had a nine -inch screen. I used free bitmapped clipart and went to Kinko’s each week to get copies made.  The newsletter was distributed with employee paychecks and I got a lot of positive feedback on the employee profiles and other stories I shared – it helped create a sense of community in the store. Looking back, what I think is so funny is that just about everything related to my first marketing position is now obsolete.

While Patty Radford Henderson’s workshop is sold out, you can learn more about her Topic Mapping™ methodology at http://radfordhenderson.com/. Look for more MIMA workshops in the future where industry leaders will share their knowledge, and practical “how to” advice.

This blog post was written by marketing committee volunteer, Gina Micek.