Content Jam 2017: A Left Brain, Right Brain, Whole Person Marketing Conference

November 5, 2017

Content Jam

Mercifully, Content Jam 2017 had no panels.

What Orbit Media Studios’ Content Jam, which took place in Chicago this week, did have were skilled individual speakers offering well-thought-out advice for the content marketer. I found good advice on three key topics:

  • How to improve your writing.
  • How to improve your data.
  • How to improve your life.

Content Jam was a left-brain, right-brain, whole-person kind of conference.

Let’s start with how Content Jam keynote speaker, Gini Dietrich, took on the tall task of offering advice on how to improve your life — not just your content marketing. In her talk, Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich, made the case that far too many people make decisions on a “solutions-based” model rather than on an “options-based” model, which she prefers by a long shot. She believes far too many people focus too much on solving their immediate problems rather than on being open to opportunities.

She described the predicament of a friend who was working in a job that he didn’t like but paid well. Warned that layoffs were coming, he had the opportunity to take a buyout with severance package that included 11 months’ salary and 80 percent of his pension after retirement. Or he could try to keep the job with the knowledge that he might be among those fired with significantly less severance and no pension. He was leaning toward keeping the job, because that would solve his problems, which include paying a mortgage and feeding his kids. By defaulting to this solutions-based approach, her friend, Dietrich believed, is blind to the opportunity he has to find a new job or start his own business — all with the cushion of 11 months’ severance.

On top of that, Dietrich’s friend is also leaving the decision to others and not taking control of his own life. He’s being controlled by circumstances rather than taking control. “You can’t change what’s happened,” Dietrich said. “But you can change what’s to come.”

While Dietrich offered advice to the whole person, Joanna Wiebe showed the Content Jam crowd how to approach their right-brained writing process a differently. Wiebe, Founder of Copy Hackers, argued that the philosophy of content marketing had swung too far toward education and away from meeting business goals. “What if instead of educating you made money?” she asked.

She counseled writing copy that sells instead of simply conveying information. She said far too few blog posts these days ask for the order. For guidance, content marketers should look to the great copywriters of the past, such as John Caples, who wrote the revered print ad from 1924 with the headline, “They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano. But When I Started to Play!—”

Wiebe held this ad up as a model, because in its 1,000+ words (about the length of an average blog post) this ad tells a story that takes the prospect from top of the funnel to bottom of the funnel, where it even asks for a conversion at the end of the ad. “The content team too often ignores the number-one metric of business: revenue,” Wiebe said, adding: “It’s not writing; it’s business.”  

In his Content Jam presentation, Justin Rondeau, Director of Marketing at DigitalMarketer, addressed left-brain issues and outlined a programmatic approach to data and analytics. He cautioned against marketers trying to analyze too much data. “Measure what matters, not what’s measurable,” he said, adding: “Data has no intrinsic value. It’s all about what you do with it.”

In deciding what data to analyze, Rondeau offered a simple rule of thumb. “Your key metrics are the answer to your most commonly asked questions,” he said. In particular, pay attention to the metrics that the executive team cares about.

And in these days of constant flux, the key metrics today may not be the key metrics tomorrow. “That’s why we have a dry erase board, because a lot of things change,” he said.

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