Author: Marcia Riefer Johnston

Marcia Riefer Johnston is the author of Word Up! How to Write Powerful Sentences and Paragraphs (And Everything You Build from Them) and You Can Say That Again: 750 Redundant Phrases to Think Twice About. As a member of the CMI team, she serves as Managing Editor of Content Strategy. She has run a technical-writing business for … a long time. She taught technical writing in the Engineering School at Cornell University and studied literature and creative writing in the Syracuse University Masters program under Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter @MarciaRJohnston. For more, see Writing.Rocks.

By marcia-johnston published May 19, 2016

How to Build Buyer Personas That Build Sales

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Michelangelo famously claimed that when he sculpted, he simply removed the extraneous. He didn’t so much create human forms as liberate them. He wasn’t imposing his vision on slabs of stone; he was revealing the figures within.

What if we adopted this mindset with personas? What if, instead of creating personas from our imaginations, we found out everything we could about the flesh-and-blood people we want to sell to and keep happy – and then used personas as a means of revealing those people to the teams that need to communicate with them?Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published May 12, 2016

Buyer Personas You Want to Use: The 9 Essential Parts

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Ever been part of a team that skipped over creating personas to get to the “real work”? Or maybe you had personas, but everyone ignored them.

Personas are easy to dismiss.Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published May 5, 2016

From 2 Hours to 2 Minutes: How This CMI Duo Blew Away a Tedious, Unscalable Content Task

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If you’re looking for smarter ways to use content technology in your marketing, I hope that this story inspires you as it has me. It’s about two of my colleagues at the Content Marketing Institute – IT Director Dave Anthony and E-media Manager Laura Kozak – who put heads together to automate a tedious, unscalable website task, saving Laura time and improving the experience for the CMI audience.Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published March 10, 2016

What Should Marketers Look For in a Content Strategist?

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The day has come: Your boss signed off on your proposal to get the help your marketing team needs from a content strategist. Great!

Gulp.

What skills should you look for in a content strategist? What are some good questions to ask? Where and how can you find the right help?Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published February 18, 2016

Take Your Content From Albatross to Asset: 18 Experts Tell How

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We’ve all felt the dead weight of it: ROT (redundant, outdated, or trivial content) hanging around our necks. We’ve been bogged down by far-from-perfect processes, unsystematic systems, and not-quite-right technology. Content – planning it, producing it, and managing it – can feel like more of a burden than a business asset.

Here to lighten your load are 18 experts who are presenting at the Intelligent Content Conference. They answered this question: Marketers need to handle increasingly complex and abundant content. What are your top tips for managing all that content as a business asset?Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published February 11, 2016

Adaptive Content: The Way to Your Customer’s Heart

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Editor’s note: You may have missed this article when CMI published it on another blog last year. We’re sharing it now because adaptive content holds more promise than ever for marketers who want to scale their efforts.

Hey, there. I know you. I understand where you are. I get what you’re going through. I just might have what you need right now.Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published February 4, 2016

16 Common-Sense Reminders for Uncommonly Good Content

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I miss things that are right in front of my face. I spend long minutes scouring the parking lot for my car or searching the cupboard for a certain spice, only to realize – sometimes with the help of someone standing next to me – that the thing I want, need, and know like the back of my eyelids has been sitting in my line of sight the whole time.

Marketing can be like that. You want and need to create an exceptional content experience for your audience, and you know what it takes to make that happen, but you’re stuck, temporarily blind to some critical bit of common sense.Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published January 28, 2016

Align All Your Messaging With This Simple (& Fun) Tool

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What’s your company’s most distinctive trait?

What’s the most important thing your company does?Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published January 25, 2016

Liven Up Old-Hat Content: 4 Ways to Find a New Twist

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Barbara’s small audience had heard it all before. Her message was the epitome of ho-hum. Bo-ring. I’m talking boy-do-my-cuticles-need-a-trim boring.

Except that it wasn’t. Coming from her, that same-old-same-old content, typically delivered as a mindless spiel, had us all looking straight at her.Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published January 14, 2016

6 Content Ideas Every Marketer Should Steal From IBM

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Last year, I interviewed IBM’s Andrea Ames, whose job title alone makes me tired: enterprise content experience strategist, architect, and designer. In this article, I share some steal-worthy ideas from that interview – ideas that can help you, as a marketer, scale your content processes and provide your customers with more remarkable experiences.Continue Reading