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 Click To Tweet
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 Click To Tweet
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?
- Know what success looks like. What’s the goal? Write it down.
- Identify your personas. Who are you creating for? Personify them. Make them your universe.
- 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 Click To Tweet
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?
- 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.
- How you can scale your content marketing team/efforts. We went from 3 people to 25 in two years.
- 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.
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.