Content Marketing World, Day 2: 7 Ways Marketers Can Produce More Effective Content

September 10, 2015

john cm world

On Wednesday, the opening keynote speakers at Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland, Ohio, focused on the glut of content and how marketers must produce better content to stand out. Other speakers at the conference offered plenty of advice on how to produce content that's useful, entertaining, and drive sales. Here are seven pathways that can help marketers produce more effective content.

Create an Atmosphere of Creativity

John Cleese, one of the foundering members of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, knows a thing or two about creativity. In his keynote at Content Marketing World, he said the pace of the world today, with all of the information and distractions available on our mobile devices, makes it difficult for content marketers – or anyone else – to find a place where creativity can be nurtured. Cleese noted that he often went to bed with a comedy sketch he was writing unfinished, but, upon waking up in the morning, the solution for how to complete the sketch had come to him. He believes that the unconscious – not the “Freudian unconscious,” but the unconscious that thinks in images and not words – works when we are asleep or in a relaxed, meditative state. He noted that Einstein, Edison, and other innovators attempted to come up with ideas and solve problems by finding an undisturbed place to tap into their creative mind. Cleese suggested that content marketers should emulate this practice when they need new ideas.

Be Bigger, Bolder, Braver

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, urged us to be bigger, braver, bolder. Tell a big story. Be a braver marketer. Have a bolder voice. A bigger story puts your company in the limelight in the context of what your audience cares about. Bolder marketers defy the norm. They don't hide from the tough issues. A braver voice will stand out among the rest and find provocative ways to talk about potentially boring topics.

Honesty signals confidence

Doug Kessler, Creative Director at Velocity Partners, proposed a new way of producing content -- put your worst foot forward. Marketers should actively seek out weaknesses and expose them. Why? Because it signals confidence, surprises and delights, builds trust, alienates less likely buyers, attracts ideal prospects and focuses on battles you can win. In producing more honest content, marketers also show that they care more about prospects’ success than short term revenue.

You can't outsource personality

In a panel of industry leaders, LinkedIn's own Jason Miller, who is senior manager of content marketing for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, discussed best practices for outsourcing content to freelancers. "Your team needs to have the vision, the spark," Miller said. "You certainly can't outsource personality or humor." Inspiration should begin with the team, then you can work with a freelancer to help it come to life, he said. Injecting personality into your content is crucial for success in a sea of content mediocrity. Jason also stressed the importance of picking vendors you genuinely mesh well with. "I want to look forward to getting on an hour call with you every week," he said.

In an Increasingly Data-Driven Landscape, content tools are essential

"We're becoming martech men and women," Travis Wright, Chief Marketing Technologist at CCP Global, said during his presentation. Savvy marketers will enlist tools to help curate and amplify content. To save you some time and sanity, Travis outlines all of his favorite tools in a downloadable doc here. Here are some of the highlights: For keyword research, Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest and Moz are top tools. For content curation, check out Buffer, Feedly, Flipboard and Nuzzel. Premiere content distribution tools include Hootsuite, Sniply and Post Planner.

Successful Online Videos Share Certain Characteristics

Many content marketers are trying to crack the code in online video and making it useful for their businesses. In his presentation at Content Marketing World, Matthew Patrick, President of Theorist, cataloged the characteristics that successful video campaigns shared. Using Old Spice’s and PopSugar’s online videos as benchmarks, Patrick said the common traits in these and other high-performing videos are that they are personality-driven, have a clear voice or perspective, are produced consistently and regularly, are self referential and often self deprecating, and are authentic and “true to the brand.” “Successful brands in digital video are the ones that are able to humanize their business,” Patrick said.

Understand the Difference Between Metrics and Analytics. Andy Crestodina, principal strategic director at Orbit Media, said marketers must understand the difference between metrics and analytics if they’re going to improve the performance of their content. Metrics, Crestodina said are pure numbers; a metric report is something that looks like a “data dump.” A report using analytics, however, will be written in English and use numbers to suggest action items to improve performance. Crestodina said that Google Analytics is a readily available tool for content marketers to analyze a host of audience, acquisition, behavior, and conversion metrics. More importantly, taking an analytics approach to these metrics can create an action plan to boost those numbers. Ultimately, content marketers should use the numbers to understand their prospects’ behavior more completely. He called this understanding “data-driven empathy.”

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Special thanks to Alex Rynne and Megan Golden who contributed to this post.