The Content Marketing Institute knocked it outta the park once again. Last year’s inaugural Content Marketing World event drew 600 of the world’s top content professionals. This year, the event compelled 1,000 of the top content brains to spend a week together — sharing content strategies, trends, challenges, success stories, case studies, awards and parties.
I have oodles of deep, “game-changing” takeaways that are sure to take our team and our client engagements to the next level. However, as with last year, I also relished many “simpler” moments that caused at least one of my eyebrows to take flight. These are in a “tossed salad” format — no particular order.
1. Print needs a second (or first) look.
In fact, Nenad Senic (@NenadSenic) reminded us that deriving a content marketing plan without considering print is downright silly. Particularly because print is still an extremely immersive medium.
68% of US consumers said customer magazines influence their purchase behavior. Nenad’s examples were compelling — and *not* limited to B2C. Even Google has its own *printed* magazine. Heck, I’d read it. Wouldn’t you?
A sidebar Nenad eyebrow-raising moment: English is not Nenad’s first…or even second language. Yet, his speech and presentation was flawless. Way to make the rest of us look bad, Nenad 😛
2. Email trumps social — hands-down. So there.
I’ve never jumped on the whole “email is dead” thing. But, the eyebrows really went up when ExactTarget’s Jeff Rohrs (@jkrohrs) pointed out that email is actually social media’s “secret weapon.” How do you get notified when your LinkedIn followers update their profiles? Email. How do you know when you have a new Twitter follower? Email. How do you know when someone comments on your YouTube video? You get the idea.
Email may not be “sexy” to Pinterest-obsessed marketers…but it’s still the most consistent, reliable digital messaging medium out there. Oh…speaking of Pinterest…how do you know when someone has repinned your pin? You guessed it.
3. Not everyone is on board.
I was floored at the end of my presentation on Customer Stories when someone from a not-to-be-named company stepped up to the mic.
They said that if their employees share company success stories of any kind — and get quoted as a result — they’re out.
What amounted to “get quoted, get fired,” was a stark reminder that some industries and corporations are going to be slow to adopt transparent content — even when it’s proven to be far more effective than traditional marketing.
What I especially loved about this year’s event was the evolution of discussions just like this one. We’ve grown from just talking about concepts and are now talking about the realities of managing Content Marketing.
Instead of admiring the problems we’re tackling them. I love this!
4. Rick Springfield is 63.
5. Slideshare gets 60 million visits a month.
Even more shocking: most of those visitors are business decision-makers searching for information. The six most-used tags on SlideShare are business, market, trends, research, social media, and statistics. I sat in on Todd Wheatland’s (@toddwheatland) session last year. The circled, starred and scribbled note when I left: “Learn more about Slideshare.” Apparently, Todd realized that this was a takeaway for everyone. So…this year he chose Slideshare as his sole topic. Now I see that we simply must push some Slideshare trials with select clients. Great eye-opening info, Todd — thank you! That’s what I call listening to your audience.
6. Conference mobile apps really CAN rock.
The group at Flirt Communications (@flirt_creative) had my eyebrows raised well before the conference even started. The Content Marketing World app was so outstanding that I didn’t crack open my printed guide once. Didn’t need to. I had my entire custom agenda in the palm of my hand, along with a dedicated social network for the conference right there. I could share updates with attendees alone — OR shoot the updates out to my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn communities if I wanted. Bottom line: I didn’t have to “spam” my family and friends on the networks, yet could be active with my content geek peeps. A beautiful balance.
I kinda couldn’t shut up about this app. It was not only innovative — it was invaluable.
7. “Gamification” is not what you think.
Playing is a lot more fun than working, right? Well, the concept of “serious” gaming is trickling into the content marketing world. However, it can be as simple as adding a gaming “layer” to your content — not a full-throttle game. Think frequent flyer programs. It becomes a “game” in the end, right? Russell Sparkman (@fusionspark) got our wheels turning.
8. The “Why”
Okay, this one was big. Marcus Sheridan (@TheSalesLion) challenged us to ask ourselves WHY we do what we do…and to keep that at the heart of our stories.
So…he made me think…
Why am I a Content Marketer? Well…after years of traditional copywriting and marketing — where the goal was to convince, I fell in love with the idea of creating content with a “higher purpose.”
Content Marketing is about helping others make decisions, solve problems, better their lives and improve their standing in the workplace or their home. Talk about a more fulfilling use of my passion!
Good stuff Marcus. Eyebrows sufficiently raised…
9. Jack Hanna is hilarious.
Okay, we knew about Jack’s dedication to wildlife conservation. What we didn’t know was that he’d make us laugh so hard with his self-professed “A.D.D. or H.D.D. thingy” style of storytelling. The cats were cool. But, Jack’s touching story and delivery almost had me in tears.
10. Speakers can be spoiled.
I’ve spoken at many events. However, I can honestly say I have never encountered an event team that made the speaker’s job so stinking easy. I’m used to planning for drama. I’m used to surprises. I’m used to distractions. The Content Marketing World team rolled out the orange carpet for its speakers in such classy form. I was relaxed. I was focused. I was able to deliver with zero distraction. Oh…and did I mention the speaker gift? Don’t even get me started :)…
11. We are family.
Yup. I’m gonna get goopy here. I had a surprisingly hard time saying good-bye this year. This never happens to me at conferences. Not only did I get to reconnect with dear friends from last year, I formed some incredible new relationships in a community that just “gets” me. Yes, many of us bonded first on Twitter — but the face-to-face friendship-building and knowledge-sharing was tremendous. That doesn’t happen at other professional events. Not even close.
Want to learn more?
If you’re even remotely in the content marketing universe, Content Marketing World is a must-attend. If not the annual event, check out the Content Marketing Institute’s list of webinars, workshops and upcoming event “down under.”