5 Profound Takeaways from Content Marketing World

September 13, 2013

After spending 3 days in Cleveland, I have arrived back home to San Francisco and am still reveling in all of the content marketing greatness from Content Marketing World. This is the third year of the conference and my second as an attendee. It was such a fantastic place to be as 1,400 plus of the world’s smartest content marketers came together to educate, inform, entertain and, most importantly, connect.

While there was a wealth of great ideas and inspiring keynotes, including our own Jonathan Lister’s keynote, these are the key takeaways that most resonated with me as a marketer.


Joe Pulizzi at Content Marketing World (photo credit: Fallon Corporate Photo)

1. Marketing so useful that people would pay for it. One of my all-time favorite speakers, the always brilliant Jay Baer kicked off this year’s conference with an incredibly thought-provoking keynote around his best-selling book, Youtility.  Jay makes a valid point that we, as marketers, are now competing for attention against everything.  As content marketers, we should strive to create content that is useful with high intrinsic value instead of talking about our product directly. When done correctly, this is the type of content that builds relationships early on with your prospects and keeps your brand/product top of mind.  Jay sums it up perfect, “Sell something and you make a customer today. Help someone and you create a customer for life."

2. How to hit a content marketing home run. Velocity’s co-founder and content marketer to the stars, Doug Kessler, hosted another stand-out session for me. He talked about how content marketing is hitting the mainstream, making it much more difficult to get a competitive advantage and I agree. He spoke about the need to set yourself up for a content marketing home run by always keeping in mind a list of attributes that make content stand out including: attitude, energy, confidence and emotion.  These are the building blocks to great content and he expands upon these in his fantastic SlideShare presentation here.  Another point that really hit home with me was Kessler’s assessment on the current state of content.  “The real threat to content marketing is an over-reliance on competent, professional, intelligent, well-made, on-strategy content,” he says.  Relying too much on structure is what limits the ability to truly create something remarkable.

3. It’s more than just producing content, it’s about aligning people, content + technology. Carlos Hidalgo from Annuitas hosted a session around improving the value of content marketing with demand generation. He points out that content really starts with buyer targeting segmentation. It’s important to ask the following questions when developing content: who are my buyers, why do they buy, and how do they buy?  Just doing content marketing is not enough, you absolutely need to have it aligned to your buyer in a strategic approach or it’s simply not worth the investment. There’s a lot that happens between an inquiry and a marketing qualified lead and it’s important to understand how many steps of engagement are necessary.  Lacking a strategic approach will often lead to a bad buying experience that can confuse the buyer, causing a mid-funnel gap.

4. Innovative content does not need a billion dollars, or global brand recognition, or a situation monitoring room. I never miss an Ann Handley session. She’s my go-to content marketing expert for inspiration and original ideas. Ann’s presentation showcased several examples of how seeding your content with inspiration and honesty that’s empathetic is the best type of content that will attract customers. One of the best examples she referenced is Lowe’s “Fix in Six” campaign. She points out how Lowe’s uses six second Vine videos to illustrate home improvement hacks. Doing so attracts customers and keeps the brand top of mind. The next time those folks need to make a purchase, they are likely to go directly to Lowe’s because they have built a relationship with the brand online.  Ann also hit home with me as she talked about how inspiration is all around us and that content innovation comes from our environment. She suggests finding that thing that inspires you and applying it to your industry as a great tactic for content innovation. I have a background and love for music, so I have found success in bridging the two and applying it to some of the content that I create in the B2B world. It’s an easy way to add personality and originality to content while not taking yourself too seriously, which I have found to be a winning combination.

5. Two incredibly useful tools to scale your content effort. Reigning content marketer of the year and good friend Joe Chernov from Kinvey held an incredibly helpful session around tools to scale your content efforts. Although he mentioned quite a few extremely useful ones, there were two that resonated for me as they are super easy to get started with and both can have an immediate impact on your content strategy.  The first is Little Bird, which is a tool that pulls together the most influential persons around a topic or keyword. This is really useful for identifying the influential people in your space and also great for seeding your content and finding those who can help spread the word for you. The second is Addvocate, which is a tool that helps companies empower their employees to share content in an easy, moderated, trackable way.  Both tools are super easy to get started with and, as I mentioned before, can have an immediate impact on your overall strategy.

Were you at Content Marketing World this year? What were your key takeaways and favorite sessions? Tweet them to us at @LinkedInMktg or @jasonmillerca