Content Marketing World (CMW): It’s sort of like the first time you hop on that brand-new, super-upside-down, flying-by-the seat-of-your-pants ride at Six Flags. It’s a little bit thrilling, a little bit terrifying, and leaves you a little bit, well, queasy. (No, we didn’t need that third tangerine-hued Rice Krispies Treat, but we had it anyway.) And when you’re done, you know you want to do it again, but maybe you can wait until, well, next year. But man, the people! Nothing like being surrounded by your own kind: like-minded, marketing-crazy fellows (emphasis on crazy — the good kind …). We left with our minds on fire and full of ideas to bring back to our clients. Here are a few of our (slightly sleep-deprived) thoughts.
Our takeaways from Content Marketing World
“You’ll never understand me! I’m going to my room!”
Content marketing has officially entered its angsty teenage years — from identity-searching to cigarette-smoking (and that acne!). But you already know that. It’s that little voice in your head that is telling you to keep making content even though you know almost no one will read it. You should listen to that voice. Buyers engage with less than 25 percent of the thought leadership content they read. Or maybe people are reading it. But you don’t know if it’s working because you don’t know how to measure real success. Of B2B marketers, 55 percent don’t know how to measure success. The antidote to this is not more content. It’s better content — targeted and promoted with real measurement that means something. Not only do we need to double down on giving our discrete target audiences content they actually want to read, we also have to be even more deliberate about how we deliver it.
“It’s about the experience, man.”
We content marketers are desperate to connect with our audiences (Please be my friend; don’t you see how much we have in common?). Veronique Lafargue, global head of content strategy for Google Apps for Work, took us on an incredible journey through her team’s work in connecting with B2B audiences. It culminated in a live demonstration of virtual reality videos (which you can totally make!) — because a shared experience is the ultimate connection. You too can feel what it’s like to be in Google HQ’s yoga room. (Imagine if your workplace had a yoga room! Don’t those mats look soft?) Just like artificial intelligence (more on that later), virtual reality isn’t the future. It’s here. But even if you can’t swing a fully immersive video just yet, you can bring your audience in the room with you by building that connection. By the way, having several hundred people attempt to stream YouTube videos at the same time will pretty much break the Wi-Fi, but you probably already knew that.
“Who’s in charge here? The people or the robots?”
Artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning is so much a part of our day to day that we barely even notice. From Alexa to your Google search results page, AI delivers experiences and information to us every day. When it comes to machine learning and search results, even Google admits they’re not sure how it works. And as much as it makes my skin crawl, we must embrace the potential of artificial intelligence. And I’m not talking about measurement here. From audience insights to content optimization (and even content creation), the bots are here to stay. And the more you accept that, and rely on them, the more efficient and successful your content machine can and will be. Basically, just give in to your bot overlords now, before you anger them — resistance is futile.
“Lego is doing something right.”
Lego, a beloved childhood toy, timeless, classic — unlocking the creative genius of kids and adults alike for years — doesn’t have any paid influencers. Yes. Take a second to digest that. No. Paid. Influencers.
Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Instead of focusing on a strategic and familiar plan of paying influencers to review products and get the word out about new and exciting rollouts, they create movements like “Kronkiwongi.” Google it — your world will be rocked.
They instead push the question of how can you (the consumer) “color outside the lines” within the Lego brand coloring book. The end result? A massive army of brand ambassadors that didn’t cost them a dime.
“OMG! Ann Handley.”
Before I walked into the orange palace that is CMW, I was unaware of a massive void in my life. That void, little did I know, was filled by the mere presence of Ann Handley, chief content officer at MarketingProfs. This glowing unicorn — cited by Forbes as one of the most influential women in social media (#GirlPower) — gives a refreshingly hilarious and amazingly frank view on the world of content marketing. Follow her on Twitter. Buy her books. Thank me later. 🙂
“I want to be ‘in’ on insights.”
I attended a panel that dove into this idea of insights. Simple enough, right? Wrong. Mind = blown. This fundamental topic breaks down the process into three main parts: fact -> observation -> insight. The example Doug Kessler used in his presentation “What Great Content Looks Like: The Power of Insight” was this: Fact: People feed their dogs twice a day. Observation: It’s typically at breakfast and dinnertime, respectively. Insight: People are embarrassed to eat in front of their pets. Is your mind blown yet? Insight is about more than just context — it’s about taking a risk and adding meaning to data that your audience wants or needs to know.
“What is my why?”
Nope! That’s not a typo. Comedian Michael Jr. used comedy to explain the difference between knowing the what and the why of your content. Again, a simple idea in nature but then he expanded to include “not just any why — your why.” Let me explain — so here at D Custom we craft unique content with a strategic focus to establish thought leadership, maximize messaging and reach, and help grow our client’s audience. What and why. So what’s your why? Personally, my why is to make each and every piece of content experiential and expand the reader’s (and even our clients too!) perception of content and what makes good content beyond just a 140-character tweet or a 450-word blog. #LifeGoals
“Mark Hamill, will you be my grandfather?”
He may not have had much to say about content marketing, but Luke Skywalker himself gave the closing keynote at our conference (Themed: Content Strikes Back!) with a converation that launched a 10-minute stream of consciousness-style monologue, which he ended by saying to his interviewer, Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi, “You haven’t actually asked me a question yet, have you?” And with that one comment, Hamill won Content Marketing World 2016. We think he might have won Content Marketing World 2017 too, and we’ll definitely be there, just to make sure. You’ll recognize us by a slightly orange tint to our skin (from food coloring, not bad spray tans).