Digital Relevance – Book Interview

Heidi Cohen Interviews Ardath Albee

Digital_Relevance_CoverWhat’s your best piece of advice for readers looking to improve their marketing and why is it so important?

Do the work to really know and understand your buyers, customers, end users – what they care about, need to accomplish and what influences them.

Whether you call this persona development or buyer profiles or buying centers, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you can’t possibly be relevant without this knowledge. How do you create content and a problem-to-solution story that will engage all of the people involved in making the decision across the entirety of the buying process if all you know is demographics?

What was the inspiration for Digital Relevance?

Marketers were telling me that they’d bought into content marketing, were creating content, that people were reading it, but that the needle wasn’t moving on performance. I heard some version of this scenario consistently for several years and finally decided that it was time to write a book about how to fix that problem.

What is the key concept behind your book? How did you come up with it?

The idea that became the cornerstone of the book first came to me in 2010 when Craig Rosenberg (@funnelholic) asked me to create a graphic of what the funnel looked like to me.

This graphic eventually evolved into the Continuum Experience that became a way to solve the performance problem caused by one-off campaigns and lack of strategy as I worked on a number of projects with clients to solve it.

This slide is how I depict the difference between campaigns and a continuum approach:


Below is Figure 10.1 in Digital Relevance,

What do you want readers to take away from your book or be different as a result of reading it?

My biggest hope is that marketers will expend the effort to create active personas, ditch campaigns in favor of a continuum approach and develop the skills to master relevance, context, and connections with the markets they serve.


How do you describe yourself professionally?

I help companies with complex sales use persona-driven, content marketing strategies to turn prospects into buyers and convince customers to stay.

What are 1-3 books that inspired your work/career?

Story by Robert McKee – I’m a natural storyteller with a degree in English and I was working on writing a novel the first time I read it. McKee’s book helped me understand story structure and how to sustain tension over the term of a longer piece of work. With that depth of insight, discovering and shaping the story a business shares with customers is infinitely easier.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell – Pretty much the same as above, but this book helped me to apply a more intent application to character. A lot of the methodology I developed for creating buyer personas came from thinking spawned by Campbell’s ideas. Especially the idea that we can learn to understand ourselves better through the stories we choose to read or view.

Permission Marketing by Seth Godin – Flipping marketing on its head just made so much sense to what I instinctively saw as the opportunity for companies to connect more meaningfully with customers.

What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your life or career?

Waiting 6 years for a liver transplant and knowing that someone had to die for me to live. (This was before partial transplants were possible.)

What’s something unusual or fun that most people don’t know about you?

When I was 12 years old, I was the California State Champion for Synchronized Swimming (think water ballet) for my age group.

 Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you’d like to share?

As a marketer, it’s really critical to keep learning. Learn something new every day. Everything changes so fast, it’s our only hope to keep pace.

Contact information


Thanks, Ardath.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
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