Ronnie Higgins' Content Synergy Strategy (Inspired by Walt Disney)

Ronnie Higgins' Content Synergy Strategy (Inspired by Walt Disney)

Play episode

Ronnie Higgins, Director of Content at OpenPhone, breaks down how the Disney Synergy Growth Map guides how he approaches content marketing.

Walt Disney was a genius! Yeah the creator of Mickey Mouse, Dumbo, and Disneyland.

In 1957, he mapped out how Disney was going to continue growing and increasing revenue for decades to come!

To Ronnie Higgins, Head of Content at OpenPhone, he sees this as a mental model for creating, repurposing, and distributing content.

In this Marketing Powerups episode, you’ll learn:

  1. How to escape the content hamster wheel.
  2. What is the Disney Synergy Map.
  3. An example of a B2B company doing this well.
  4. Ronnie’s marketing lessons from his time working in Hollywood.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcast and Spotify now, or watch it on YouTube.

I want to thank the sponsor of this episode, 42/Agency.

When you're in scale-up mode, and you have KPIs to hit, the pressure is on to deliver demos and signups.

And it's a lot to handle: demand gen, email sequences, revenue ops, and more! That’s where 42/Agency, founded by my friend Kamil Rextin, can help you.

They’re a strategic partner that’s helped B2B SaaS companies like ProfitWell, Teamwork, Sprout Social and Hubdoc build a predictable revenue engine.

If you’re looking for performance experts and creatives to solve your marketing problems at a fraction of the cost of in-house, look no further.

Go to to talk to a strategist to learn how you can build a high-efficiency revenue engine now.

⭐️ Ronnies' Content Synergy Strategy

Ronnie first learned about the Disney Synergy Map in film school from his teacher, David Jones, who used to work for Disney. The map, which Disney created in 1957, shows how the company uses its various assets to get the most out of their content.

At the center of the map are Disney's movies, which connect to various other areas such as theme parks, music records, TV commercials, merchandise, and books. This approach ensures that Disney's content reaches as many people as possible in as many ways as possible.

This idea resonated with Ronnie, who saw similarities with his own approach to content marketing. He was particularly drawn to the idea of content repurposing.

"The way I make it a hit is not by publishing just this one piece, but thinking about how that one piece will be repurposed and remixed and then eventually refreshed into multiple pieces."

Here's how Ronnie applies the Disney Synergy Map to content marketing.

Step 1: Create a pillar piece. 🗿

Ronnie begins his content marketing strategy by creating a pillar piece. This is a substantial piece of content that serves as the foundation for his marketing efforts.

It could be an in-depth eBook, a comprehensive guide, or a detailed report. This pillar piece is akin to a Disney movie in the Disney Synergy Map, serving as the central point from which all other content is derived.

"I have this piece of content and I'm going to make it a hit. And the way I make it a hit is not by publishing just this one piece."

Step 2: Atomize the content. ⚛️

After creating the pillar piece, Ronnie then atomizes the content. This involves breaking down the main piece into smaller, more digestible chunks.

For instance, a lengthy eBook could be transformed into a series of blog posts, social media updates, email content, and even webinars. This strategy, which Ronnie refers to as "content atomization," allows for maximum exposure and reach.

"I think about it before I go into production. The same way Disney does is like, all right, I have this piece of content and I'm going to make it a hit. And the way I make it a hit is not by publishing just this one piece, but thinking about how that one piece will be repurposed and remixed and then eventually refreshed into multiple pieces."

Step 3: Distributing natively to multiple platforms. 📣

Finally, Ronnie distributes the atomized content natively to multiple platforms. This means that he tailors the content to suit the specific platform where it will be published.

For example, a blog post might be shortened and made more visual for Instagram or transformed into a video for YouTube. This approach ensures that the content reaches as many people as possible in a format that is most suitable for them.

"As a marketer, the most powerful tool in your toolkit is exposure. How do you find more ways to hammer in the message and just constantly get someone's attention and you just need to be in multiple places at once."

Free powerups cheatsheet

Subscribe now to instantly unlock a powerup cheatsheet that you can download, fill in, and apply Ronnie Higgins' Content Synergy Strategy.

    No spam. Zero fluff. One-click unsubscribe.

    🎉 About Ronnie Higgins

    Ronnie Higgins is the Director of Content at OpenPhone, the all-in-one phone system for teams. Prior to that he lead content teams at Hopin, Udemy, and Eventbrite. Ronnie is a seasoned content marketing professional with over 12 years of experience. He started his career in the film industry which laid the foundation for his storytelling skills, a tool he strongly advocates for in content marketing. Ronnie's approach to content creation revolves around understanding the audience and their needs, using various formats and channels to reach a wider audience, and emphasizing authenticity in brand voice and values.

    🕰️ Timestamps and transcript

    • [00:00:00] Leveraging Disney's Content Strategy for B2B Growth
    • [00:00:47] Disney's Synergy Map: A content power-up in the world of marketing
    • [00:01:14] The Addiction of Creating More Content and its Impact in the B2B SaaS Industry
    • [00:05:52] A deep dive into optimizing content through the lens of Disney's Synergy Map
    • [00:11:20] Content Marketing Strategies Rooted in Disney's Synergy Map
    • [00:18:20] 42 Agency - My Number One Recommended Growth Agency
    • [00:19:06] Ahrefs Free Webmaster Tools
    • [00:19:52] Multiplying Your Sales and Marketing Efforts Through The Power of Content
    • [00:25:49] The Roles of Content Marketing and Attribution in Business
    • [00:34:48] Exploring Emotional Engagement in Content Marketing with Disney's Example
    • [00:35:29] Creating Synergy with Content to Enhance Brand Presence
    • [00:43:42] From Film and TV to Content Marketing: A Power Up for the Career with Ronnie Higgins
    • [00:47:49] Content Marketing Strategy and Building Relationships with Ronnie Higgins
    • [00:51:20] Marketing Powerups podcast Episode Recap

    Episode transcript

    [00:00:00] Ramli John: Walt Disney was a marketing genius. In 1957, he mapped out how Disney was going to continue growing and increasing revenue decades to come. Today, Ronald Higgins, Head of Content at Overfone, he sees this as the mental model for creating, repurposing, and distributing content. In this marketing Pops episode, you learn, first, how to escape the content hamster wheel. Second, what is the Disney Synergy Map and how it relates to content and marketing? Third, an example of a B, two B company doing this wall. And fourth, Ronnie's marketing lessons from his time working in film and TV industry in Hollywood. That's pretty cool. Before we start, I've created a free Power Ups cheat sheet that you can download, bill in, and apply Disney Growth Map to your content marketing. You can get right now or find the link in the show notes and description.

    [00:00:47] Disney's Synergy Map: A content power-up in the world of marketing

    [00:00:47] Ramli John: Are you ready? Let's go. Marketing power ups. Ready? Go. Here's your host, Rambly John. Ronnie, I'm so excited to chat with you. Let's talk about marketing power ups. I know we're going to be digging into this. I'm a big fan of Disney, so we're going to be talking about Disney's Synergy Map. That is like, how powered up the way you think about content.

    [00:01:14] The Addiction of Creating More Content and its Impact in the B2B SaaS Industry

    [00:01:14] Ramli John: Before we do, I just want to dig into why it seems like I don't know about you, but SaaS company or even tech companies have this addiction, create more content. And while I was putting together some questions, it's like that song from my favorite rapper, like, more content, more problems, but obviously more money, more problems. But I'm curious why for us in content, we know that more content is not always better. I'm curious why that is. That addiction we have creating more content, especially in the tech or even in SaaS or even in marketing, why are we so addicted to content so much? [00:02:00] Ronnie Higgins: I think we have to go back to why content in B two B, SAS, or just B two B became a thing a decade ago is you had a website. Your website was about your product or service. And this whole thing of search engine optimization in Google started to kind of become a thing. And you needed to be able to rank for searches that were not at that state, the bottom of the funnel, or that product aware stage. So you needed a way to add more pages to increase your ranking. But it would be gratuitous to just build landing pages over and over again. And so whether I think we realized it or not, the adoption of content marketing was a way to add pages to a website to increase the keyword density. And that's why SEO has become such a prominent thing. And people think content equals SEO is because we hadn't really thought about what we were supposed to be doing, and it was just about adding more pages. So, like at open phone, right? Like an example here is, oh, so we're rolling out a group calling feature. Well, all right. Well, we're calling it group calling. We're not going to call it three way calling. How do we add capture traffic from people searching three way calling? Well, let's write a blog post about group calling versus three way calling. What's the difference why it matters? And bam, you've captured that traffic. And I think it's that and then maybe it's also and this is totally an assumption and I welcome anybody who comes from a journalism background that worked or had aspirations to work in news or magazines. Is content was ephemeral like what you posted in the New York Times a week ago does not matter anymore. You're always on to the next lead, next story, or thinking about next month's issue. Thinking about if you're Sports Illustrated, the swimsuit issue. I don't know, like all the different things that you're thinking about going forward. And because at the very start of content marketing, we've sort of become a magnet for journalism people who it wasn't a lucrative career anymore, not like it was once was. And they flocked to content marketing and brought probably that mentality there. And that's totally assumptions. I've actually been fortunate enough to work for people like Margaret Jones, who pretty much was an OG content marketer at marketo early days of content marketing. Working for Jason Miller, who had a journalism mindset, but knew that it was not just about more content and that it was about building a library and having authority and creating treating content like a product that at Eventbrite, we saw it as not just like, oh, let's publish a bunch of content. It was, no, we're going to create a third place, a destination for Event professionals to come and trust and find all the resources they need. And that led us to having a completely different mindset of creating content. And I think it also kind of ties to the Disney thing too.

    [00:05:52] A deep dive into optimizing content through the lens of Disney's Synergy Map

    [00:05:52] Ramli John: We're going to dig into you mentioned to me to check out reforges content around blog posts around this Disney Synergy map, which we'll get to in a bit. But in that article, which I'll link in the comments, they compared how Disney which wasn't able to talk about because it's so interesting, versus other studios at that time. And what studios did was they were searching for all the time. So like a hit movie. And I feel like that's what you're getting at here is like the reason maybe why we're producing so much content is we don't really understand how Google exactly works. We're just guessing. We're hoping one of them gets to gets picked up enough that it's like number one on the list and that becomes the hit pillar that brings in 80% to 90% of your traffic. And I feel like that's it. We're playing the SEO game to make them more content reach, to really like a piece. The Google Gods search engine. Gods essentially it's a driver. [00:06:57] Ronnie Higgins: I definitely agree. In fact, I've been fortunate enough to work with SEO people like John Henry at Growth plays. But I've also worked with and I don't have their names and don't want to share names. But SEO agencies that literally just go, here's a keyword list. And when you have that mentality or maybe you don't even work with an agency and you just signed up for Hrefs or SEMrush, you go and you look at your competitors website and you see they're ranking for this stuff. But you don't understand why because you've focused on Google. Why did Google choose that piece that you have this need to just do as much as possible to see what's going to stick. Like you're saying where I think what Disney? And maybe because, I mean, they haven't had always a hit. They've had some kind of duds over the years. But they think about it as like the audience, what do we give to people? They think of their content. Back to what I was saying earlier. Content is a product. What is it that we can serve as a product? What's the need? Just like when you build a product or service, you're fulfilling a job to be done. What is that job to be done? And how does it instead of thinking about the algorithm that's so true. [00:08:25] Ramli John: I love that you brought jobs to done. I tweeted once, like my heart melts whenever a marker. It's like been the most influential framework in my life. But I love how you we're starting to dig into Disney a bit. What is this Disney's synergy map? And how has it become a mental model for you in terms of content, repurposing, distribution, and how you think your philosophy is actually around content? [00:08:54] Ronnie Higgins: Yeah. All right. So for folks at home on the podcast, romney is going to definitely put a link to that reforest. So you'll see this visual. But until then, I will try to paint a picture. It is essentially a back of the napkin sketch. Not literally. It's much more beautiful than any of us are going to try and draw on the back of a napkin. But what you see at the center is the movies. So thinking of all of their Disney movies. And then you see these other nodes of theme parks, music records and tapes, I think. Not even tapes. I think it was all just records. Then LPs or whatever. And then there was television commercials. Is another node. Merch is another node. And then there's another one. Oh, books. Books. Which is not just like children's books, but coloring books and all of that stuff. And what you see is there's like it's kind of like Charlie Day's character from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Like doing the conspiracy theory, all the, like, connecting lines. It's like that, but much more beautiful and less insane. And it shows you how they have created essentially like a flywheel or a framework for when they do have a hit, how do they get all the juice out of it? How do they make sure when they launch a hit movie, does it become part of how does it become realized? In the theme park, they use the characters, the storylines there. They then create a book version of the movie and coloring books. And then there's the audiobook version. The music goes to CDs. The characters go to TV. And fast forward to when they were doing sending stuff home. So that is the Disney's Synergy map. They did it in 1957. And when I found that reforge article, found that they redid it ten years later. I wish I've been trying to see if they've done something similar since then. It'd be really cool to find it. But I'm trying to think of how to describe how it's affected me.

    [00:11:20] Content Marketing Strategies Rooted in Disney's Synergy Map

    [00:11:20] Ronnie Higgins: I was starting to think about this last night, knowing you were going to ask this. And essentially when I was starting in content marketing, actually back up before content marketing worked in film and broadcasting. Before that, I went to film school. In film school, I had to take masscom classes and a bunch of courses that helped me understand the business side. So it was content production. But I had to know how to get money, how to market things. And I had a really good teacher, David Jones is his name, and he was an imagineer. And he had shown the Disney Synergy map. And I was just like, blown away because I don't know why I have this knack. Maybe it's my ADHD. When I see something like that, it's like seeing the code in the matrix. Fast forward. That thing kind of faded from memory. Then I get into content marketing. It's about like ten or so years ago, and there's not as much material as there is today on the Internet to learn about this stuff. A few watering holes here and there. One of them was Jason Miller. At LinkedIn with Margaret Jones. We're talking about carving up the turkey. And that was like the metaphor of it. And then NewsCred called it the content pillar approach. And I'll try and send you a link you can add in there. But there was this old ebook of showing how you can chop up an ebook into smaller blog posts, then chop that stuff up into, interesting, the social copy, email, landing page copy, like repurpose the whole ebook into a webinar. And this is all the stuff that people talk about repurposing today. Was the foundation supposed to be the foundation of it a decade ago, and people are now having this awakening over the last few years that we should repurpose content. I still hadn't remembered the Disney Synergy map at that point. Like, I was just soaking up all of that stuff. And then basically what happened was I still was trying to learn more about content marketing. Before I got to Eventbrite, I was still in the first like year or two and I accidentally went down this rabbit hole on UX content Strategy thinking or not realizing that it was separate from content marketing and it was Rachel Lovinger Razorfish. At Razorfish they created this thing called Nimble Content. I don't know if it still exists out there on the Internet. And they talked about this idea of modular content and how your content is in chunks that can be repurposed, moved around all of that. And this had so many reasons to do this, which was like just creating like working smarter, not harder. But also for this is around 2012 when the mobile web craze came. So it was like, how do you get your desktop site to be a mobile site? But it was that modular thinking that I was like, wait a minute, I know what this is. I understand this modular idea because film and television, when they go shoot a movie, they might film the last scene on day one. And so it's all modules that get shot and some of that stuff never makes it into the final film when you look at deleted scenes and things like that. And so this modular concept made sense to me. And I brought it early in to content marketing and then shortly after that was when I stumbled upon again the Disney Synergy Map. And that was when this content pillar approach went from you write a 3000 word ebook and because it's gated, you need to turn that into smaller blog posts that'll rank on search became a much bigger beast or more complex, like Code in The Matrix to me, where it was. This is actually something that if you subscribe to Devin Reed's Reader Network or newsletter, he talks about content waterfalls. This is the same idea. And I call it like content atomization. And I think about it before I go into production. The same way Disney does is like, all right, I have this piece of content and I'm going to make it a hit. And the way I make it a hit is not by publishing just this one piece, but thinking about how that one piece will be repurposed and remixed and then eventually refreshed into multiple pieces. Because if you're listening to this, you're a marketer and you know that as a marketer, the most powerful tool in your toolkit is exposure. How do you find more ways to hammer in the message and just constantly get someone's attention and you just need to be in multiple places at once. And the Disney Synergy Map and this idea of content repurposing remixing just sort of coalesced into this beast of an idea of like, you can create infinite content from all these different sources. And I started to even think of the Disney Synergy Map when I want to say it was around like 2017. 2018 came to me was what it helped me do was realize that when I was working on a piece of content like ebook, I would be going to customers and subject matter experts, calling them on the phone, getting on like, I guess zoom existed then and getting all this information and sort of behind closed doors. And what that made me realize is back to Devin Reid's Content Waterfalls is I could just do an event where I get those people to ask those questions in public and I have a polished piece of content that I can then repurpose. And then instead of me taking the ebook and chopping it up and bringing it back to video, I've already created the video. It's the event, the panel where I had a bunch of people talking about that topic and gave me the material that gets caught up and goes into the ebook. And so I started to see from an operational standpoint how that Disney Synergy map worked in content marketing.

    [00:18:20] Podcast Sponsor Shout-out for 42 Agency and Hrefs Webmaster Tools

    [00:18:20] Ramli John: Before I continue, I want to thank the sponsor for this episode, 42 Agency. Now when you're in scale up growth mode and you have to hit your KPIs, the pressure is on to deliver demos and sign ups and it's a lot to handle this. Demand gen, email sequences, rev ops and more. And that's where 42 Agency, founded by my good friend Camille Rexton, can help you. They're a strategic partner that's helped B two b SaaS companies like Profitable, Teamwork, Sprout Social and Help Doc to build a predictable revenue engine. If you're looking for performance experts and creatives to solve your marketing growth problems today and help you build the foundations for the future, look no further. Visit 40 to talk to a strategist right now to learn how you can build a high efficiency revenue engine. Thank you also to the sponsor for this episode. Hrefs free Webmaster Tools if you want to rank your website higher in search engines, you have to make sure that your website doesn't have any technical SEO issues. Because if you do, that's like trying to run a race with your shoes tied together. That's how you lose. And we don't want that. Luckily, Asias for your webmaster Tools can crawl up to 5000 pages to find 140 common technical SEO issues that could be holding your site back from generating valuable traffic. It can also help you find your strongest backlinks, as well as analyze keywords you're ranking for and see keywords search volume and ranking difficulty. For each of those keywords, you can sign up for webmastertools or find that link in the description and show notes.

    [00:19:52] Multiplying Your Sales and Marketing Efforts Through The Power of Content

    [00:19:52] Ramli John: Well, let's get back to the episode. Everything you just said, there is like so much gold mine that you're really digging up there. And one of the things that really struck with me is like when Disney's like investing in when they're going to put $250,000,000 in a movie, they're not just going to release that movie. You're talking about the more investment there are, the more likely they're thinking about toy lines and new ride so that it all kind of fuels each other, like almost like a flywheel, where you might get introduced to it via a toy, but that brings you into the movie and that brings you into the ride. So it's like this almost like cycle of bring multiple entry points to this flywheel is what I'm kind of hearing with what that is. [00:20:48] Ronnie Higgins: Multiple entry points and multiple reentry points. So interesting. We're parents, right? [00:20:55] Ramli John: Yeah. [00:20:56] Ronnie Higgins: Where our kids going to see a movie, probably like us watch it 100 times. Then maybe hopefully we bring them to a Disney Park. And after they go to the Disney Park, they might have not watched the movie in a long time and reconnect with that character or reconnect or have that experience on that ride or that breakfast. And then when they get home, they're going to go back and want to watch it. And I think it's in the reforge article. But correct me if I'm wrong because it has been a little while since I read it, but it's a synergy map. And I know synergy has like a weird word, like now synergy. Right. But I think the way people might see it as not a jargony banal platitude thing is it's like a monetization strategy because they're saying, all right, we're going to make this movie. It's going to make X amount of dollars at the box office. But that IP, that content IP is also going to make X amount of dollars at theme parks and CDs and DVDs and streaming and merch and all those things. So it's thinking like a media company at its finest. That's true. [00:22:23] Ramli John: And I think the other thing, there's a monetization strategy there for Disney, but for companies, this is like at the heart of marketing becoming top of mind for them. Imagine seeing that Disney crack everywhere. You go to the grocery, there's the cereal aisle. You go to the movie, you see the poster, you go to the toys or wherever you get your toys now, and you're right there. That's how you win. It's like when you remain top of mind for your consumer. And they're like, oh, I'm in my purchasing habit now. What do I buy? The one that's top of mind? Essentially being everywhere and being prolific is like really helping you become the choice for whatever product that is, especially on B Two, B 100%. [00:23:19] Ronnie Higgins: I recently at Open Phone, did a little internal talk about content. And I focused it on content, being a content creator. Because everybody wants to be a YouTuber and podcaster these days, right? Yeah. Not us, right? So I focused it on that. And I said I talked about like, Mr. Beast and all these people who are making millions. But I called it the six keys to the Content kingdom. I may end up doing this publicly, TBD. If so, then you can add it back to the notes later. But the first key is forget about fame and fortune. Focus on attention. And it doesn't matter who you're competing against. Okay? If you're a B. Two B. SaaS company, right? Let's take Open Phone as an example. We have other phone competitors. We compete against Verizon and at and T because some people think getting a business phone means going down and getting another second iPhone. But those people are not always in the purchasing or buyer mode. But what content can do in that mere exposure effect is it increases the amount of attention that we have and the amount of value in that relationship. That's why the whole community thing is followed on the coattails of content. Because content literally creates community. There's a reason there's fandoms, right? Like Disney, period. There are apparently Disney gangs, like families who I don't know. I read about that and it was kind of funny because there was, like, joke. There were people fighting over who could take a picture in front of a fountain at Disney. And I was like, oh, that's sad. Anyways, it creates fandoms. I always see content as the watering hole or the water cooler for a community or a fandom. And when you can do it right and you can do it right with that sort of synergy strategy, monetization strategy, and it's that exposure. And so when someone is starting a new business and they realize, hey, I need a business phone. Hey, I got all that really good advice and learned about stories from other small business owners from that company, Open Phone. Let me check out their thing. [00:25:48] Ramli John: So good.

    [00:25:49] The Roles of Content Marketing and Attribution in Business

    [00:25:49] Ramli John: The challenge that I often hear are on this. It's so hard to attribute, and I feel like that's missing. The whole point of what for people tuning in here, is that this stuff is sometimes unmeasurable, but you can sense it. The attention leads to quicker buys, quicker sell cycles. And I'm not sure how do you respond to that, especially lately with the economy. People are like, hey, let's go back to direct response and just cut off investment and wait, you're cutting yourself at the foot there. It's like limiting your growth. [00:26:27] Ronnie Higgins: Essentially, number one, Attribution is bullshit. I'm sorry. So there's this dichotomy inside of me that's Attribution is bullshit. And it is a spicy hot take. That's not original. I mean, there's other people who say the same thing amanda and Rand Spark Toro talked about a lot. But what I mean when I say it is that it's a bullshit thing to argue about. It's a bullshit thing. And I'm sorry if I'm supposed to be not cursing. [00:27:06] Ramli John: This is an idol show. [00:27:10] Ronnie Higgins: But it's bullshit because you waste so much time trying to prove it when what matters most is it's a team sport. Like, if you think about it, like, the success of Marvel is not one. Like, everyone knows Kevin. It's weird how everyone knows who Kevin Feige is. No one ever knew who executive producers were. Now, like, it's a name, but it's not him. It's a group effort. It's the marketers. It's all the people who lift up and make that happen. The actors, the screenwriters, definitely the writers pay the writers. We're in the middle of a strike right now. And it's the same with marketing. It's like sales does one thing, marketing does another thing. All the different parts of marketing do different things. Product does a lot of work. It is a group effort. And when I say there's a dichotomy, inside of me is I'm also a ridiculous data nerd. And so for me, it's not about Attribution, but being able to see the, like, using the measurement all the way through every everywhere from like, the website all the way out to your, like, rented properties, your social properties, your, you know, email, click through rates, your attendance rates, your registration rates, all those numbers. I think if you look at them in a silo or if you focus on one or two, that's where things go wrong. But for me, I had my team build me this dashboard. We're still working on it, it's not there. Or else I'd show you like, a screenshot of my dream dashboard. I might be able to sketch it out for you one day, but it's like being in the control room of a nuclear power plant. There's all these different things with information. But if I'm like the director of that power plant, I can stand at the console, look at everything and go, everything's good. This power plant is stable. And I can then also look at all of those data points and go, that right there, let's tweak that. And we'll actually get more efficient energy out of this plant. And so that's where the dichotomy is. Attribution is saying that that one metric is what you know, or that one thing, that one touch point is what did it. But I mean, the whole reason, you know, back to calling back your episode with Brendan Hufford. Like dark social, right? Yeah. Word of mouth. Like, no one knows what happens when someone's starting a business. It could be they just went to some other site that mentioned open phone when you're starting a business but didn't link it or anything, or they were starting a business, went to some subreddit or some other niche community that no one has ever heard of and heard of open phone as like, or VoIP. And I think what's happened is the reason with Attribution is bullshit, is that I think the last decade we've been so fixated on all the digital marketing metrics that we forgot before those existed how we measured marketing. And yeah, there's the joke of like, half of my budget gets wasted, half of it doesn't. The problem is I don't know which half, but there's some truth to that. But I think in the digital post digital world. Post digital world. Like, today, I think there's things that you can do that are substantial for measuring the effectiveness of, say, content that isn't converting or driving easily attributable to revenue. So, like doing a piece like, let's just pretend I'm doing an interview or a profile on Romley John, a small business owner who just overcame the odds and built an empire in his little hometown or something like that. Like, never mentions a product, never does anything right. What's the value in that? Well, what I do is I have to so in my advisory roles, open phone and in my past roles, is explain to the leaders that the value is not the conversion. I have content that does that. This has a different job to be done. The job to be done here is, and this is another thing you can link, is go look up BuzzFeed's Cultural cartography. This is something early on in my life wanting to build a media company. I met with the bureau chief of BuzzFeed and just got him to dump all this stuff on me. And I learned about the cartography. Then it was like, oh, they've mapped out the jobs to be done for content. And most B, two B SaaS companies are focused on two to three of these jobs to be done. And when you see it, it's like this flat graph and there's like hundred different jobs to be done. And so a story about Romley, the small business owner, is, oh, this is about helping other people connect with Romley and see themselves in it and be inspired. And it's not about selling anything. And then because they feel inspired, there's an emotional trigger that then they associate with my brand. And what's even better is in a day and age where distribution is, I'm going to just drop an F bomb. It's hard as fuck. Like, really hard. Seriously hard. It's fucking impossible these days. When we started in this, it was like shooting fish in the barrel. It got a little bit harder. Now it's practically like it's really hard. Yeah, but when you do something like that, think about it. Compared to a case study. If I interviewed Romney about adopting open phone, why are you going to share that? Are you going to share a case study on why you bought the camera that you bought? Maybe if you're an influencer and you're going to get paid off the back of that. But no one's going to share a case study, but someone's going to share a story where they were the hero of the story and they got recognized. And somebody who was a way better storyteller than them, made them look like a badass, made them do the I am Iron Man kind of moment and made them feel like invincible. And they'll share that and they'll share it a whole bunch and bring more people to the site who may. End up seeing in my sidebar and by browsing my content, the stuff that brings them further and closer to a purchase decision.

    [00:34:48] Exploring Emotional Engagement in Content Marketing with Disney's Example

    [00:34:48] Ramli John: I love that you're really talking about there's this emotional side that we often miss with our content that Disney guess. It's like emotional drives them coming to the Disney Store or going to the parks. That's why people propose that Disney parks. I can't imagine Walt Disney planning, like, oh, one day people will be proposing to their life partner, one of her partners. [00:35:17] Ronnie Higgins: I want to think that the more he studied Disney, I would not doubt that he was thinking about that thought. That probably not. [00:35:25] Ramli John: You're probably right there. I love that you're really driving into the emotion there.

    [00:35:29] Creating Synergy with Content to Enhance Brand Presence

    [00:35:29] Ramli John: We've been talking a lot about this synergy map. I'm sure you've applied it quite a few times in your advisory role, like Open Phone. Everywhere else that you've probably worked at. Is there one that you an example that you can share to the folks that I can link in the description as well that kind of shows how you've kind of applied this map or this flow or process or thinking of metaphor. [00:35:57] Ronnie Higgins: Don't have a great example at Open Phone yet because Open Phone is the smallest, less mature company. It sounds bad. Like, they're not mature, we're not mature. But Series B. I've usually joined companies that have been around ten years or Series D or something, so I haven't been able to build out anything there. And I trying to think I might not have any perfect examples here. I could probably describe stuff better. [00:36:30] Ramli John: Maybe something you funny because maybe to be SAS or SAS or even your experience at Hop in or Eventbride, you were talking about getting interviews or that. [00:36:42] Ronnie Higgins: Yeah. At Hoffman, I would have to, like, see, I'd have to go find the content. But the Hoppin is actually the best example I have that I can describe is when I joined Hoppin, we were the content teams here. All of a sudden, everyone thought we were kind of like a service center and at putting a bunch of requests in, right? And I was like, no. And it was really uncomfortable. But I'm glad we did it. It took us a few months to kind of get people to realize, especially the events team. And the reason is they were, like, tapping us for ideas about content for the event. Like, they were thinking logistics and getting the right names and things like that and how to promote it. But the content of the event, they were leaning on us for. And so I use that opportunity to let them know, like, hey, I have the next quarter of content published. And what we can do is constantly be looking out three months. So, like, if for June, I'm planning August and plotting that onto the calendar and then doing that every other month or every month. And because I know in three months, I'm going to be doing a big meaty piece on topic X. I want you to do an event on that topic and let's go and find the right subject matter expert on the panel and throw some customers in there so they have some examples. And so what we were doing was basically looking at the content that was coming up and planning stuff ahead of time that would then get seeded into that content. Then we also did it on the flip side where, oh, we're going to refresh that old piece that someone wrote before I started do an event. Let's use that piece as the talking point or the fodder for the event, get people to react to it, then actually go and refresh the piece. And so that's one way of thinking about it, that I've done it at Hoppin. And then there's like so many other different ways to do it where you might even just do the social post to test stuff out. Like name dropping again, mandate. And Natividad is a proponent of this, of where test everything out on social. Right now we're recording at the end of May, and if you've been paying attention to my Twitter, I'm asking some questions about the influence of media. Well, I'm purposely testing out some questions for an interview for a podcast that I'm going to start. But then you build all of that to then work it in. And then there's like the merch. So like that podcast idea, I have a tagline that maybe not a tagline for the show, but I have this idea for if it gets popular, I can sell a piece of merch that has an element of the name of it in it. I don't want to give it away right now, but you're laughing because I already told you. But the idea is that I'm thinking of how to increase the footprint of this content. IP I'm also looking to increase the footprint of the topic authority so it's not just one or two blog posts or an ebook. It is like multiple touch points so that it doesn't look because think about it, right? Like if anybody comes up to you and says they share some expertise, cool, you learned it. Months later, you probably forgot it, or weeks later you probably forgot it. But if that person's constantly showing up saying the similar same thing or in the same vein or in the same area, you start to go, that person knows something. And so it's about approaching content that way and using that synergy map to understand that you can increase your footprint and also feed into different consumption preferences. So some people might want to read something, some people might want to watch something. Oh, here's another one that we're doing at Open Phone is we're taking a long form blog post and we're doing a too long didn't read video. [00:41:17] Ramli John: I like that. [00:41:19] Ronnie Higgins: And then we'll put those on YouTube, then embed it back into the post is something that we're about to start doing that's so good. [00:41:25] Ramli John: I love those examples. I've also seen where turning their articles into audio on a podcast so that people don't want to read, they can listen to it. One thing that I heard here that I feel like maybe not a lot of people think about is like you mapped out the content for the next quarter and you're like okay, we're doing event. How can we fit that event so that they both work together? Synergy. They're synergizing. This is most time I've ever said synergy in a long time. But they're working together to support a bigger story around this topic, which is. [00:42:06] Ronnie Higgins: Why attributions bullshit was it the event or the piece of content? Like the written content? Who knows? [00:42:12] Ramli John: So good. [00:42:13] Ronnie Higgins: And then what I used to do at Udemy too. Another example is kind of back to the movie example where like deleted scenes and stuff like that. We were creating these ebooks that had a ton of research and a lot of material gathered that ended up not in the ebook. And we're very sales led over there on the B, two B side. And so what I would do is create a guide. When you have a book read club and there's like a facilitator to guide to talk about the book and has other sources to look at and reference, we put all of that into a doc so it'd be a too long didn't read explanation of the ebook and then it'd be all these other related pieces of content. So then when sales saw that in their marketo were able to see like, oh, Romley downloaded that ebook, let me engage with them about it. And instead of saying, oh, you read that ebook and being creepy or something like that, it'd be like, hey, just wanted to share this article with you I think that you'll find interesting. And it'll just be about that same topic. So they feel like oh yeah, this person knows what they're talking about and knows about something that I care about or am interested in. [00:43:31] Ramli John: I love that man. That's such a good example as well, using content now not just for at the front end, but enabling sales and helping them reach out. So thank you for sharing this.

    [00:43:42] From Film and TV to Content Marketing: A Power Up for the Career with Ronnie Higgins

    [00:43:42] Ramli John: I actually want to shift gears and talk about career power ups. Now you mentioned you started your career in film and TV industry and you moved to content marketing. You worked at some really well known companies like Eventbrite Hop in Udemy and now you're with Open phone. Curious what's like a power up that's helped you in your career. And it could be something like networking or talking to people and just chatting or it could be something more of like a marketing skill. But I'm curious what's a power up that's helped you in your career? [00:44:11] Ronnie Higgins: So kind of going back to this media and media company thing. So everyone talks about building a media company, thinking like a media company. And if there's one power up as, like, content becomes multimedia, that has served me well is reading, learning about, and deeply understanding Marshall McCullen's medium. The medium is the message. So in the 1960s, I believe it was maybe 70s, he blew everyone's mind and with this media theory that the medium in which the message is being delivered is as, if not more important than the content of the message. And it boils down to that the different mediums and the different genres have their strengths and weaknesses and purposes and what we see now and why I love your podcast, by the way, and you might be doing this without realizing it, is you actually understand the medium better than most. B. Two b SAS podcasters. Most of them are talking heads, talking shop, and they think, all I have to do is book a name, get them on a call and talk shop. And then they ask some question that sometimes is just ridiculous. Jay Kunzo recently talked about this, and someone asking him about the ROI of storytelling, and he's like, I don't even understand that question. Obviously, that person did not do any research on Jay Kunzo, or they would have known that that was kind of a silly question. But with Marshall McCullen and the medium as a message, you understand that when I'm reading something written, like a blog post or any book, and I realize I've lost track or got distracted, it's easy for me to scan, like, flip back the page or scroll up to find where I got lost, get back on track, and continue. It is really hard to do that on video. [00:46:27] Ramli John: That's true. [00:46:27] Ronnie Higgins: It is practically impossible to do that on audio. Yeah. Unless some way you're looking at a sound wave and you can tell where something was being said, which most people can't do. It's impossible, and that's a weakness. So that's why Jay Akunzo had recommended, and thankfully he did, because it reminded me of a lot of stuff I learned at film school. A book called out on the Wire, which helped me understand, oh, in audio, you need sign posting. You need to be able to say, like, oh, well, Ronnie just said all this stuff, and you're doing it, by the way. You're like, oh, I heard you say this. Here's what I understood. And it makes sure that people listening to the podcast have caught up their understanding. They're not lost because the second you lose them, they're going to go, oh, well, it's too much effort to figure out where I last was paying attention. And so you lost them. They won't finish the episode. And so I think that's the power up is as we move into multimedia, I think people need marketers need to learn more about theory. And I would say start with the medium. Is the message. [00:47:39] Ramli John: I love that. I'm going to check that out. Also out on the wire. I'm going to go buy that right after this link that in the comments as well. But there's so much stuff I'm learning from this.

    [00:47:49] Content Marketing Strategy and Building Relationships with Ronnie Higgins

    [00:47:49] Ramli John: One final question. If you can just give an advice to a younger version of Ronnie. Maybe he's starting out in content marketing, or maybe he's, like, just graduated from film school. You decide when the message gets true. What would be an advice you'd give a younger version of you? [00:48:05] Ronnie Higgins: It's funny, I had an idea knowing that you would ask because you asked this question was originally going to say, like, don't be afraid to make mistakes. But I think I wouldn't be here if I were afraid to make mistakes. And I'd probably be like, what are you talking about? If I was going back to myself at the beginning of my career, whether it was film or content marketing, it would be trust in people and build a network. Because the bigger my network has gotten, the more I've learned more from my network and gained more value from my network of people who I consider friends than anything else. My whole career is what it is today because I've met, built and nurtured relationships with people. And I would tell my younger self that that is, like, more valuable than even work performance. [00:49:11] Ramli John: Sometimes I chatted with somebody else, Claire Swallow, and she said one of her power up is like, being kind to people and you don't know when it comes back. And it's so true, right? Being friends with folks and just really caring about people. There's no ROI on that storytelling, but it does come back around, for sure. [00:49:33] Ronnie Higgins: I love that it's one of those things that you see and you can connect the dots. It's like Steve Jobs said, you can look back and see how it did it, but it's not going to be immediate. There's people who my whole advising career started with Jale Bishrot, the former CMO of Eventbrite. She had been gone I hadn't talked to her in years, maybe a couple of years or so, and I got laid off at Eventbrite, and I got a call, like, okay, answered a call. What's up, Jelly? I want to introduce you to my VC. [00:50:16] Ramli John: Why? [00:50:17] Ronnie Higgins: She had just started a company and so the company, the venture capital firm that had backed her or invested in her, she wanted to introduce me to, that led to advising all of these seed series a startups and being able to increase it's almost like having multiple jobs and trying multiple strategies over a short period of time. Like, I've built an organic content engine with zero SEO and proved that you don't need SEO. How often do you get to do that? You might get one shot at it if you're doing it in house, but from an advisory role, was able to do it while also helping another person invest in SEO. [00:51:06] Ramli John: I had such a fun chat with Ronnie. I feel like I can really relate with creatives and creators like Ronnie so well. You can find out more about Ronnie's work by following him on LinkedIn and Twitter. You'll also find those links in the show. Notes and Description thanks to Ronnie for being on the show.

    [00:51:20] Marketing Powerups podcast Episode Recap

    [00:51:20] Ramli John: If you enjoyed this episode, you'd love the Marketing Powerups newsletter. Share the Actionable takeaways and break down the frameworks of world class marketers. You can go to subscribe and you'll instantly unlock the three best frameworks that top marketers use, hit their KPIs consistently, and wow their colleagues. I want to say thank you to you for listening and please like and follow Marketing Powerups on YouTube, Apple, Podcast, and Spotify. Do you feel like extra generous? [00:51:48] Ronnie Higgins: Kind of. [00:51:49] Ramli John: Leave a review on Apple podcast and Spotify and leave a comment on YouTube. Goes a long way in others finding out about Marketing Power ups. Thanks to Mary Sullivan for creating the artwork and design, and thank you to Fisal's High Goal for editing the intro video. And of course, thank you for listening. It's all for now. Have a powered update. Marketing power ups. Until the next episode.


    Become a smarter marketer in just 10 minutes per week.

    Each week you'll get the roadmap to replicate the success of world-class marketers like Amanda Natividad, Kevin Indig, and April Dunford – and save 40+ hours of research.

    Subscribe now and instantly unlock our 3 best marketing powerups that'll help you hit your KPIs consistently and wow your colleagues.

      No spam. No nonsense. Unsubscribe anytime.

      Hosted by

      Ramli John

      Ramli John

      Ramli John is the founder of Marketing Powerups and author of the bestselling book Product-Led Onboarding. He's worked with companies such as Appcues, Mixpanel, and Ubisoft to accelerate their growth.

      Become a smarter marketer in just 10 minutes per week!

      Join +5k other marketers learning every week how elite marketers like Amanda Natividad, April Dunford, and Kevin Indig are consistently winning.

        No spam. Zero fluff. One-click unsubscribe.