I’ve been following Lisa Barone for a few years now. She is one of my favorite bloggers and marketers.

She has the unique ability of getting to the heart of a marketing issue without lecturing or being overly collegiate.

Lisa-Barone

The reason for this, I think, is because she practices what she preaches. Maybe her bio will help me make this point…

Lisa Barone is the Vice President of Strategy at Overit, overseeing the strategy, content, and social media divisions of the company. She’s motivated by three things – helping brands find their voice, innovative uses of social media, and coffee. – Courtesy of Overit.com

For more on my Lisa Barone fandom, let’s dive right into the interview…

Question One – Building Brand Personae

It seems to me that many marketers do content marketing in a vacuum as if they don’t know who they’re talking to. Do you think creating brand personae forces marketers to be more purposeful and meaningful with their content?

I don’t think it forces them to, but it definitely allows them to. We’re doing business in a data-rich economy. Business owners have the ability to tap into their own analytics and mine customer records to build profiles of not only their average customer, but their best customer – the people they want more of.

For those who don’t want to do the legwork themselves (or who aren’t sure where to start) there are data mining companies willing to give you this information, at very reasonable prices.

Why wouldn’t you be taking advantage of this data and then creating content and messaging that speaks directly to the person you’re trying to reach? Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

Question Two – Voice and Brand Content

How much does voice matter when creating brand content? Is it the message or the delivery that ultimately makes the most difference?

The delivery is the message. Or maybe the message is the delivery. Your customers can’t separate them, which means you, as a marketer or business, can’t separate them either.

I believe voice is incredibly important – it’s what gets the message heard, it’s what creates the relationship between you and the customer, and it’s how you become recognizable to the person you’re trying to reach.

Content without voice is the product manual that comes with that fancy new thing you just bought? Did you read it? I’m betting not.

Question Three – Knowing Your Audience

When developing a marketing strategy, what comes first, the metrics or the audience? In other words, is it better to build a strategy from analytics or from personae? Or is that the wrong question?

Your strategy starts with understanding who your audience is – without that knowledge, how could you ever expect to market to them or to know which strategies to use or where to place your budget? Knowing your audience and what they want, think and feel is the basis for everything you’ll build on top of it.

Question Four – Keyword Strategies

Do you think keyword strategies are still important? What I mean by this is should marketers even worry about keywords, or is the context of the message a more important focus?

Keywords will always be important in that you want to use the same language and the same words and phrases your customers are looking for. But keywords in terms of perfect anchor text, perfectly optimize pages and a keyword-focused mentality – that died a long time ago.

Question Five – Design and the Brand’s Voice

When thinking of a marketing message, many focus on the content. How much do you think design plays into the development of a brand’s voice?

Oh man, I love this question. Design plays into voice just as much as content does.

I’m really fortunate to work for a truly integrated digital marketing agency where designers sit next to developers, who sit next to content people, who sit next to SEOs and video artists.

Because it’s not one or the other. Both are equally important and have to work together to deliver the same message, otherwise you confuse customers.

As I said above, your customer doesn’t look at your design different from your content – to them, it’s one and the same, so both are equally responsible for the development of a brand’s voice.

Bonus – Field of Screams

Bonus – You mentioned in your bio that you like to stare into your cornfield waiting for something to come out. If you had to choose, would you prefer it to be a dead baseball player or an evil child?

Why are you giving me nightmares?

Field-of-Screams

I think I’d vote for a dead baseball player. My husband is an avid baseball fan and player so perhaps he and his new dead friend could organize a pickup game. I’ll make the snacks!

Jon-Mikel Bailey – Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.