Last year about this time, I was doing what I’m doing right now. I was thinking back on my experience at Content Marketing World 2013 and how awesome it was. It was my first time going and all I knew was that I couldn’t wait until the Content Marketing World 2014. So much so, I put it on my goals at my work. But, they didn’t cooperate the way I was hoping. I was denied!
I got over my disappointment as I realized that I had another option: I could go on my own. It didn’t take long for me to make up my mind. So, I got my wife’s blessing (there are a lot of things we could have done with that money…) and went ahead with my registration. I couldn’t pass up learning from all the great marketers that would be descending upon Cleveland, my hometown! Not to mention, seeing all the Tweeting during the event would have driven me nuts if I wasn’t there!
It was clear how much Content Marketing World 2014 grew as you stepped into the Expo Hall. It was all bigger. There were more exhibitors and in a bigger space. There were a lot of common spaces where I ran into quite a few friends. I even noticed the expanded exhibit hall for the keynote addresses. It was bigger, but not overwhelming.
Joe Pulizzi, in all his orangeness, kicked off the conference with a video explaining what to expect from the conference. It, of course, featured his closet of orange suits, his orange journal and lots of close-ups of him eating ribs (I can’t unsee that!). It was clear that this was not going to be a repeat of last year’s message. The “Beyond Storytelling” tagline reflected content marketing’s growth over the past year. As last year focused on telling the story, this year was about taking your stories to the next level to work harder for you. Strategy was a common theme throughout the conference. Pulizzi explained that successful content marketers focus on documenting their strategy. This was the biggest aspect (but not the only – see the photo above) that separated those that are effective.
The keynote speakers each had a different take on how we can market smarter and better. Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping, asked if we were Ptolomy or Galileo. Meaning, do we believe that our website is the center of the Internet universe? Or, do we understand that we’re a small blip revolving around the big sites (read Google) and how do we get closer? His “Moment of Inspiration” (MOI) is when we start our search for something.
He used “meatloaf” to take us through his entertaining journey. It showed the thought process and path that customers go through to reach the moment of purchase. Most companies are good right before the purchase stage, but the MOI is our biggest opportunity to send our customers on a journey. We can do that by telling stories that drive revenue. MOI leads to ROI. He showed how Disney created the “Nemo Effect” with Finding Nemo. So many kids wanted clown fish after seeing the movie that it created a shortage.
Julie Fleischer took us through Kraft’s evolution from “generic” marketing to “personalized” marketing. They are creating memorable content that their customers relate to and measuring their success. Then, they used their data to test, learn and improve their ROI. She also said what might be my favorite quote from the conference: “Learn Fast and Break Things!”
Robert Rose’s inspirational presentation told us what’s next for marketing. Quite simply, WE are what’s next as we move into the Experiences era of marketing. Marketers need to take the lead in providing valuable experiences because customers no longer have a guided journey to make purchases. You could almost hear the choir singing in the background as he called upon us to change marketing and lead our organizations. Because his book covers this topic in-depth, it shot to the top of my must-read list.
That led to Scott Stratten exploding onto the stage to Rush because, as he explained, he’s Canadian! He then went on a 30-minute tirade of things that drive him crazy with content marketing and what we should be doing. This included rants on how Delta diffused his anger after rude treatment, bad newsletters, vanity metrics, marketers that exploit tragedies, and automated posts (which he compared to sending a mannequin to a networking event). The highlight was his demonstration of the lack of logic in using QR Codes in emails. I don’t know how I’ve not heard him speak before now, but he’s one of my new favorites.
Kevin Spacey was the headliner for this year’s event (right after Joe of course). After talking about the sales funnel, ROI and a few other buzzwords, he said, “That’s right. I know your f—ing terms!” He explained the call he received from Joe asking him to speak at the event, using a Joe Pesci voice to mimic Pulizzi. That led to his impression of William Shatner at last year’s event. When he got serious (with a few quotes from House of Cards’s Frank Underwood), he talked about the Story. The three keys to great storytelling are conflict, authenticity and audience. Finally, he talked about his decision to take House of Cards to Netflix. He gets that the audience doesn’t care about the platform. They care about the content. Customers should be able to get content how they want it, when they want and where they want it.
Here’s a quick rundown of a few more highlights and takeaways from Content Marketing World 2014:
- Ann Handley (one of the best sessions!) used a slide of a Simpson image that I Tweeted to her . When I met her after, she said she would have given me credit if she knew I was there…not that I wanted credit. I was thrilled that she actually included it.
- I got to meet Jason Miller, LinkedIn’s Head of Global Content and Social Initiatives and Rock Concert Photographer (check out rocknrollcocktail.com!). His presentation incorporated a few of his photos and a plethora of rock star images. I loved it!
- Watching This Old Marketing with Joe and Robert live. It included their announcement that Content Marketing Institute is launching their own podcast network featuring talents like Todd Wheatland, Andrew Davis and Tim Washer.
- Content Marketing Strategy is the next big focus for many, and I expect to see it be a huge topic in the coming months.
- Google Trends came up in many sessions and will be something I will be spending some time checking out.
- The chance to catch up with a lot of friends and met many new friends (invaluable!)
It’s easy to see that I got my money’s worth, but the value goes way beyond that. Attending Content Marketing World 2014 was the best decision I’ve made this year. Bring on Content Marketing World 2015. It can’t come fast enough!
If you attended, or even if you just followed #CMWorld, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the show and what you thought were the biggest takeways. As always, thanks for reading and please share this post with your friends!
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