Agency Approach: 43,000 Feet

Agency Approach is a monthly feature here at Marketing Island. Every other month we get down and dirty with a different renowned agency from across the globe. In a bid to uncover new wisdom and opinion, we speak to some of the best professionals in our diverse industry. Touching upon individual approaches to industry wide issues, valuable knowledge, innovative case studies and unique insights, we endeavour to well and truly... spill the beans.

43,000 Feet are a content agency in Boston, USA (give them on a follow on Twitter!) Established in 2012, Dave Demerjian stands as Principle of the successful organisation. Offering branding, messaging, content strategy and development services, 43,000 Feet specialise in higher education and healthcare. Made up of passionate, creative, experienced and fun-to-work-with writers and story tellers, we introduce to you, 43,000 Feet.

43,000 Feet on... Constructing The Perfect Title

Marketing Island: Here at Marketing Island we’re suckers for a strong title. We believe a strong title is vital for attracting engagement. We often go by the ‘6 word rule’. It’s been said that titles of 6 words or less are most engaging as users generally only read the first and last 3 words when presented with a long title. Do you tend to follow any helpful ‘rules’ when writing titles?

43,000 Feet: We tend to follow three rules when it comes to writing this type of content: make it short, make it clear, and make it authentic. Whether it’s a title, a headline, an email subject line, a positioning statement - whatever - it needs to clearly articulate the content it supports. Yes, we adhere to best practices, understand SEO, and do things like A/B testing of subject lines, but at the end of the day the content has to be real.

43,000 Feet on... Nailing Tone of Voice

Marketing Island: Tone of voice is a main part of our USP here at Marketing Island. Tone of voice is important in differentiating yourself in a crowded market. When we want to get a real understanding of our client’s/guest publication’s tone of voice we ask them one question… ‘If your brand was a celebrity, who would it be?’ This helps us to paint a real picture of the kind of tone of voice a client or brand wants to undertake. Do you have any tips or use any methods that allow you to get to grips with a defined tone of voice for client projects?

43,000 Feet: When working with a client we strongly recommend that they invest up-front time formalising their messaging strategy. This doesn’t necessarily mean in-depth brand positioning (thought it can). It’s really about stepping back from day-to-day content creation and thinking about what you stand for and what you are trying to convey about your organisation. Creating the right tone becomes so much easier when you understand at a foundational level what story you are trying to tell.

43,000 Feet on... The True Meaning of Storytelling

Marketing Island: Some say storytelling has recently become a bit of a buzzword. What does the term ‘storytelling’ mean to you and how do you ensure your clients understand the importance of telling a story? How do you tell stories that engage?

43,000 Feet: I think at its most basic, storytelling only works if you are really clear on the story you are trying to tell. What is your value proposition? What are the key strengths and differentiators of your organisation and its products/services? If you understand your story, it becomes much easier to tell it in an authentic way.

On a more tactical level, we are ruthless editors over here at 43,000 Feet. Nothing goes out the door without at least two of us reviewing it, and the goal is always to shorten, streamline, condense.

"The average attention span is ridiculously short and only getting shorter - combine that with the fact that more and more content is being consumed via mobile, and it becomes clear that less really is more."

43,000 Feet on... The Role of Social Media

Marketing Island: When crafting a content strategy, how important is social media? How does using social media in content strategies vary dependent on clients and their specific needs?

43,000 Feet: There’s no doubt that social media is important, but needs to be considered in context. A university looking to attract 17 year old undergraduate students will need one type of social media strategy. That same school should take a very different approach to attracting researchers, and yet another strategy for reaching big-money alumni. It’s about understanding how your audiences engage with social, both in terms of channels and content. That seems like a no-brainer, but is often forgotten.

We also counsel our clients to bite off only as much as they can chew. One channel done well will have much more impact than a five channel social strategy that can’t be executed because the client doesn’t have the resources.

43,000 Feet on... Driving Engagement

Marketing Island: Which social media channels drive engagement and traffic best for 43,000 Feet? Are there any platforms that don’t work as well for raising awareness of your brand to potential clients?

43,000 Feet: We use Twitter with some success and have started becoming more active on LinkedIn. Our design partners are big Instagram users but as a highly visual channel that feels like a less relevant channel to us.

We are also consciously balancing our social media efforts with more “old-school” marketing like speaking at conferences and pitching articles. Those channels haven’t disappeared, and when leveraged properly they are still an excellent way to raise your visibility and build your brand.

Got more questions for 43,000 Feet or fancy a chat, you can shoot them a message here.

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