‘What Problem Are You Trying to Solve?’ The Importance of Surveys, Job Titles and Pushing the Hot Buttons

“We think about strategy,” said Jen Hajigeorgiou, who oversees content development and management for the National Association of Realtors publications, during a session on podcasts at our recent AMPLIFY summit. “What are you doing with [that podcast]? What problem are you trying to solve? I try to address every new product we’re launching with a clear understanding of what it is we’re trying to do and why.”

Hajigeorgiou has just one good job title of the many who were at AMPLIFY. Others included: deputy executive director, strategic initiatives; podcast producer; marketing and brand manager; senior vice president for content strategy and development; client engagement director; and digital marketing and engagement manager.

Job titles can be important in a few ways. When the topic of first-party data came up in her AMPLIFY Main Stage talk, Sondra Hadden, senior director of audience growth marketing for Industry Dive, said: “We want to know about job title,” giving an example of a group that uses WhatsApp for messaging. “What do our ads look like [for them]? Do we need to speak to [that group] differently because that’s where they spend their time?”

For Industry Dive, having the right audience—with the right job titles—means everything. It reminded me of a story that Elizabeth Petersen of Simplify Compliance told a few years back, when they launched the National Association of Healthcare Revenue Integrity (NAHRI).

“We were looking at registrations for events, and one of my product people noticed, ‘There’s a new title popping up and we had never seen this title before’—it was revenue integrity specialist,” said Petersen. “We started picking up the phone and calling customers, [asking], ‘What does that mean?'”

“I don’t really know,” came the answer. “I’m isolated. I’ve been given this title. There’s nobody else who does this in my organization.”

“So we sent out a survey,” Petersen said. “‘Are there revenue integrity specialists at your organization?’ We started doing focus groups and shadowing, and after a year we said these guys need an association. Getting folks to truly opt into something these days is very difficult. The first month that we offered a free resource, 2500 signed up for an e-newsletter. And in the first month and a half we had 400 people signed up for an association that didn’t exist. It would not have come about… without talking to people.”

Okay, Instagram Threads it isn’t. But NAHRI just completed its sixth annual Revenue Integrity Week and remains a very successful group. (More on the idea of having a special week for your niche next week.)

Surveying and strategizing.

There was another key word in Petersen’s story: survey. “There’s more data than ever out there on your audience,” said Davide Savenije, editor in chief of Industry Dive, who presented with Hadden. “How do your readers really feel about your publication? There’s no perfect picture from the data. It’s a little fallacy that the data tells us everything. Be disciplined in what you measure. Reader surveys help us fill in those blind spots.”

Another thing a survey can accomplish is to give you hot-button topics. For the National Association of Realtors, a podcast helped to do that.

“At the base of our strategy is finding impactful and engaging content,” said NAR’s Hajigeorgiou. “What was missing was we didn’t have a podcast. So we identified the need, fast tracked it forward, connected with a vendor to help us make that happen quickly—and in 2022 we created Drive with NAR. It’s been very successful with 3,000 listeners on average and expanding. One episode drew 12,000 listeners—it concerned the safety of Realtors, focusing on two women being stalked. This year they’ll do a 12-part series on safety.

“During that [strategy-developing] time is when you’re going to be talking what are the expectations of this [product],” Hajigeorgiou added. “[In this case,] what does the organization want from this podcast?”

And what if that hot-button topic—like safety—is a little too hot, it was asked at a later session? “It’s important for us to strike a balance,” said Laetitia Clayton of the National Association of Social Workers. “When leadership isn’t behind us, [we have to tell them] that it’s really important that we talk about this topic. If we don’t, it looks bad. We have a great membership team that helps us craft responses.”

“You want to be on the right side of this,” added Sarah Gaydos of Graphek who spoke with Clayton.

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