I’m a big proponent of trying new things, busting through your comfort zone and exploring the unknown. As a content marketer, this had previously included two uncharted territories for me:
- Content Marketing World 2016 (CMWorld)
- Cleveland, Ohio, USA
As a CMWorld first timer, I had great expectations for the event. Would I mix and mingle with content’s brightest? Is this event really located in Cleveland, Ohio? Would I *finally* get to meet my content heroes?
Here are 5 things I learned from my favorite sessions at CMWorld:
1. Marketing is impatient and must slow down in key moments
To close out day one, Ann Handley delivered a succinct keynote on a look back at the best content of 2017. Yes, Ann actually enabled us to time-travel to 2017! (If you don’t know who Ann Handley is by now, you should probably go follow her.)
Ann pointed out that for everything we do as marketers, we feel like we need to do it faster. We want it all and we want it as fast as possible. This really resonated with me. Faster, better, stronger! However, the standout content of 2017 didn’t get there by going faster...it actually got there by slowing down. The value in slowing down is being more deliberate, thoughtful, and plotting. But the key for marketers is to slow down in the right moments. Of course, there is such thing as a bad slow in marketing (that’s called not doing your job). But there is a critical need for a good slow.
2. Good marketers follow best practices but great marketers create their own
No one hates uninspired content more than Jay Acunzo, VP of marketing at NextView Ventures and host of the podcast Unthinkable. While attending one of Jay’s sessions, Unthinkable: How the World’s Most Creative Content Marketers Do What Others Wouldn’t Dare, I felt a twinge of fearless inspiration as a result of his content.
Through the art of engaging storytelling (seriously, you can’t take your eyes off this guy) Jay revealed the key traits marketers must adopt in order to do the unthinkable:
- Celebrate the stuff inside
- Commit to shipping consistently
- Control your priorities to create more
Marketers today want the end result so bad that they’ve approached work like a chore. But this needs to become intrinsic. To get there, Jay encouraged us to celebrate the stuff inside our content. Our job is not to “be creative”...our job is to create. This session resonated with me because I am that marketer who wants to go fast and get things done, but sometimes (ok, most of the time) it feels like a chore. I’m feeling inspired to break the rules and create some of my own.
3. Numbers say email campaigns work (but you’re probably doing them wrong)
I have been a fan of Gini Dietrich for some time, so I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to see her in action! She’s the founder of Spin Sucks, an authoritative blog full of professional development tips and tricks for PR and marketing pros, CEO of Arment Dietrich, and just an all-around awesome human.
Gini’s session on email campaigns covered the biggest challenges, the PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) model, the secret to onboarding, and her seven helpful steps to get started:
- Identify your target audience
- Craft your message
- Identify the content you are going to produce or repurpose
- Plan your campaign
- Evaluate & Adjust
While these steps are not rocket science, what I loved was Gini’s personal take on onboarding your email subscribers. Onboarding is critical for new subscribers who lack context. Through killer onboarding, you can “let new subscribers in on your inside jokes.” This helps subscribers feel like they are part of your “clique” and ensure they understand the lingo you use.
4. Dell’s pyramid of influence is nothing short of brilliant
Influencer marketing emerged as a frequent theme during this year’s Content Marketing World sessions. Dell’s Lauren Mauro and Shelley Ryan shared how the computer maker approaches integrated and authentic influencer marketing. Dell’s main influencer marketing challenge? Managing siloed disparate influencer programs. I was impressed to learn about Dell’s relationship-driven approach, focusing on up-and-coming influencers and engaging through a “pyramid of influence.”
Mauro and Ryan closed with the following helpful tips and guiding principles:
- Align KPIs
- Document it
- Go Niche
- Be Authentic
- Share Value
5. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to global content marketing
As a marketing consultant, author and speaker, and former marketing strategist, Pam Didner knows the secrets to global marketing success and efficiency. As any true content marketer knows, it’s no small feat to globalize your efforts at scale.
In this session, Pam Didner delivered a helpful quadrant framework to assess the best path for success. The main takeaway? There is no one-size-fits-all approach; it’s all about how you assemble your team. Pam’s session was full of tips to balance global versus local from a content perspective.
Yes, I got to meet Ann Handley in person
And there you have it, my truncated takeaways from CMWorld 2016. I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to attend such an impactful event. I’ll be back next year, mark my words. Oh, and I did get to meet my content heroes, including Ann Handley (thanks for letting us take your photo!). Plus, Cleveland was a nice place to visit and is certainly the hub for content marketing.
Last but not least, I got some quality face time with our content agency, TopRank Marketing. There is no replacement for in-person interaction with those who help make you successful. Big shout out to Lee Odden, Susan Misukanis, and Ashley Zeckman. It was lovely to spend time with you all!
Did you attend CMWorld? Share your key highlights in the comments section below.