Content Marketing World 2014: What We Learned

Image Cred: Content Marketing World Facebook Page

Image Credit: Content Marketing World

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending Content Marketing World 2014 in my beloved hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. It was wonderful catching up with friends, clients, colleagues and meeting a countless number of passionate like-minded digital marketers. More importantly, the 2500+ attendees walked away with some serious content marketing knowledge – if not a little headache and hangover.

Who knew, Cleveland definitely rocks!

We learned from esteemed industry experts like Joe Pulizzi, Ardath Albee, Ann Handley and of course – Mr. Kevin Spacey.

The highlight of the show must go to the aforementioned Spacey who elegantly dropped several F-bombs and opened with:

“What the hell am I doing at Content Marketing World?”

He answered this question by connecting the dots between great stories portrayed through movies and television series like House of Cards. His insights into content marketing really helped to simplify a marketing tactic that can often be very confusing. As Spacey explained, movies aren’t engaging and meaningful without a story. That story is created through content. Similarly, our marketing campaigns aren’t interesting or effective without a good story to tell and the content to fuel them. We can concern ourselves with keywords all day long, but if we’re not telling a story worth reading – who really cares!

Joe Pulizzi went to on to proclaim that “Your sweet spot is between what you know and what your customers need to know.” This is another great way to think about the value of the content you’re generating. Does your content address the questions that your customers need answers to? Don’t get caught in the trap of producing content that doesn’t fill this void.

Best of Sales-Oriented Strategies

Sales emails should be “choose your own adventure.” An outbound email should contain only 2 links. One link should be to mid-stage content and the other to late-stage (buying) content. Their click self-selects them into a stage. – Matthew Sweezey (Click to Tweet)

Marketing content is “what and why,” while SALES content is “choice and change.” -Ardath Albee (Click to Tweet)

Buyers require consensus across their organization. Most buying is done via committee vote. Smart marketers will create content that helps the individual personas within the same company communicate with and understand each other. -Ardath Albee (Click to Tweet)

Everyone listens to their voicemails. Not everyone reads their emails. -Derek Slayton (Click to Tweet)

Best of Content Marketing Strategies

To create meaningful content, we need to make a commitment to tell stories bigger than ourselves. Andrew Davis explained that moments of inspiration (MOI) lead to a return-on-investment (ROI). What’s our real message? (Click to Tweet)

Ann Handley continued Davis’ main point by explaining that content should focus on empathy and experiences rather than adding to the noise with more ‘stock’ articles and blog posts. Focus on relevant and inspired stories. Anyone can write if they focus on being useful. (Click to Tweet)

Look at your sent email. Anything you’ve made recommendations or feedback on can become a blog post. -Chad Zimmerman (Click to Tweet)

Gini Dietrich hates lists but they “really freaking work.” Suggests using for inspiration. She also suggests mentioning influencers within your content and lists to increase engagement. There’s a good chance the influencer will share your content. (Click to Tweet)

Publish more through LinkedIn. People in your network will get those updates and also get emails from LinkedIn mentioning this, which creates more visibility. -Lee Odden (Click to Tweet)

Brandividuals vs. Influencers. Both are important but important to understand the difference. Brandividuals are popular and create awareness whereas an influencer is effective at creating popularity and inspiring action. –Lee Odden (Click to Tweet)

Mitch Joel discussed his distaste for following best practices and case studies. By doing this, at best you’ll get close the results from case study tactics but you’ll end up leaving all of the alternative tactics that might work better off the table. (Click to Tweet)

I have to tip my hat to Joe Pulizzi and the entire Content Marketing Institute team. This was among the most organized, entertaining and knowledgeable conferences I’ve been to in years. It represented coordination and entertainment on par with Dreamforce but more intimate and less overwhelming. Nice work and look forward to seeing you next year!

*Note: Thanks to my colleagues Jeff Herrmann, Francesca Luppino and Kelsey McCoy for their contributions to this post.


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