Creating Great Content and Getting It Seen: 5 More Takeaways from Content Marketing World

September 9, 2016

Before Content Marketing World closed with an appearance by actor Mark Hamill, best known for his portrayal of Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars series, the sessions at the conference delved into a number of content marketing topics, ranging from the use of humor to Snapchat and from video to SEO. In the end, however, most sessions were devoted to answering one of two questions:

  • How can I create great content?
  • How can I get my content seen?

Here are five insights from Content Marketing World that can help you create excellent content, get your content more viewership, or both:

The “Why” Drives the “What” of Your Content

Michael Jr. delivered one of the funniest keynote speeches you’re ever going to hear. It helps that he’s a comedian. In one sequence of jokes, he described his daughter’s hamster being snatched by a bird of prey. I’ll paraphrase the series of punch lines Michael Jr. delivered after that setup: Yeah, your hamster is going hang gliding... The bird will drop him off when he’s done at the pet store...  Your hamster might look a little different. Despite the jokes, Michael Jr.’s keynote was also full of serious wisdom for marketers. Michael Jr. encouraged marketers to embrace purpose-driven marketing, and he made the case that the “why” will determine the “what” of your content. He illustrated his point with a YouTube video of one of his performances, where he was interacting with his audience. In the video, Michael Jr. was talking back and forth with a fan named E. Daryl Duff, who happened to be a music instructor at a military school. He asked Duff to sing, and the musc instructor delivered a lesson: an excellent, if reserved, version of “Amazing Grace.” Then Michael Jr. asked Duff to sing the song as if he had lived a hard life. In this version of the song, Duff delivered a fiery performance that clearly wowed the audience members around him, one of whom jumped out his seat to hug the singer. With the “why” provided by Michael Jr., Duff knew “what” to perform — and he genuinely impacted the audience on an emotional level. Michael Jr. said that what’s all content should strive to do: move the audience to action.  

How Improv Classes Can Aid Your Content Marketing

Michael Jr. wasn't the only comic in the house at Content Marketging World. The master of B2B marketing comedy, Tim Washer, is on a mission to kill the traditional corporate talking head video. In his session “How to Use Improv Techniques to Improve Your Storytelling,” Washer shares his experiences on bringing a much needed comic relief to the stuffy world of B2B marketing. Washer was tasked with interviewing CIOs and he decided to do something that would truly stand out. He wanted to take his interviewees out of the boardroom setting and into a fresh and fun space. The result is “Fast Innovation, Slow Waiter”, a remarkable video where he flawlessly blends humor with corporate storytelling. His best advice? Go find an improv theater in your city and take a class or hire someone for help. And if you’re planning to make comedic video, Washer also recommends finding a good comedy editor, because the video cuts are all about timing.

Good Marketers Do the Unthinkable

As marketers, we live in a world where everyone else is telling us how to do our jobs. We refer to these as best practices. However, Jay Acunzo, Vice President of NextView Ventures, said that great marketers do the unthinkable. “Good marketers follow best practices. Great marketers craft their own,” he said. We must stop looking for those best practices and start doing the unthinkable.

We can start by asking ourselves: Are we making stories people can’t resist or just making stories we want people to share? Are we actually actively marketing what we firmly believe or are we constantly reacting to the trend? Do we know what our customers really need, or do we just assume it? “When you make the leap, you stop playing in the market and start shaping it,” Acunzo said. The bottom line: You can’t build something big by doing it the same way as everyone else.

Promoting Content with Native Ads

Marketers are finding it increasingly challenging to attract readers to the content they create. “If you build it, they won’t come,” said Jesper Laursen, who is CEO of the Native Advertising Institute and was a member of a panel discussing native advertising at Content Marketing World. The panel explored how native advertising is fast becoming a popular means of promoting content. While there are several native advertising formats, the panel focused its discussion on in-feed native advertising, such as the kind featured on Buzzfeed, LinkedIn, and mobile news sites. Often used to promote content, such as white papers and webinars, native ads go hand-in-hand with content, the panelists agreed. “Content is in the DNA of native advertising,” said panelist Andrew Goldman, who is Global Partner Lead, Agency Holding Companies, at LinkedIn. He added that marketers are using native advertising to promote content beyond the organic reach they get on social platforms. With native, marketers can place their content in the feed to reach a larger but extremely targeted audience. The next wave of native advertising is programmatic native, which enables marketers to create modular native ads — which are then broken down to their components of headline, visual, copy, logo, virtually reassembled at hyperspeed, and then placed in feeds across the Internet. Panelist Mortiz Loew, Senior Vice President of Sales, TripleLift, said, “Native is simple, it’s easy, it’s safe. No one died from native advertising.”

The Power of Tenacity

One of the first things Mark Hamill did on stage was acknowledge that maybe it was odd that he was a featured speaker at Content Marketing World. He noted that Michael Brenner, CEO of the Marketing Insider Group, had said as much in a blog post titled, "WTF Does Mark Hamill Know About Content Marketing?" This blog post was actually quite positive about Hamill and his relationship to content marketing, because Brenner connected the archetypical hero's journey that Luke Skywalker experiences in "Star Wars" to the stories marketers should be telling about their customers and prospects. On top of that, while on the Content Marketing World stage, Hamill proved to have at least two pieces of useful advice for marketers. First, he counseled keeping at it. "Sometimes I think tenacity is more important or at least as important as talent," he said. Second, he extolled the value of noting the work of exceptional content marketers and seeing how it can be melded into your own content. "I’m not advocating going out and stealing other people's ideas," he said. "When we do that in show business, it's called an homage.

For more insight into how your organization can leverage native advertising, download the new guide, “Native Advertising: What It Is. How to Do It.