Written by Jesse Noyes and Anne Murphy
Another Content Marketing World is in the books. There were plenty of talks, debates, parties, and orange snacks to be had.
We wanted to share some of the key takeaways. But rather than just regurgitate a bunch of bullet points, we decided to have some fun. So we captured 8 gifs from Content Marketing World and paired them with 8 crucial lessons.
So soak up the sights, review the wisdom, and share with your friends!
1. Content marketing can be an awkward dance.
If there was a single common theme to every single panel, presentation or conversation this year, it was this: “Try, try again.”
There’s no surefire route to identifying and connecting with your audience other than trying a bunch of different content types out. Whether your ideal buyers are more likely to download an ebook over listening to a podcast is not always immediately clear. You have to test, reconfigure, and test again. This can lead to some awkward dance moves. But you got to get out on the floor.
2. Celebrate your victories.
Many of the speakers this year discussed how the only way to build a killer content marketing machine is by replicating and renewing your best stuff. That means taking the time to slow down and relish your victories.
Content marketers are in such a rush to drill another home run that we often forget to round all the bases. When your content succeeds, make time to analyze and understand why it worked. And don’t abandon your biggest hits. Content celebrities like Joe Chernov advocated taking your most successful standalone content (an ebook, a slide show, etc.) and building franchises around it.
3. But know when to walk away.
Kenny Rodgers said it best – you gotta know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.
So many of the sessions this week dealt with the issue of failure. You need to give yourself room to fail. As Coke’s Jonathan Mildenhall put it during his keynote, “If you don’t have the room to fail, you don’t have the ability to grow.”
Often, this means retooling content that doesn’t immediately win hearts and minds. But it also means knowing when to walk away and try something different. There’s no shame in it. It’s called “learning.”
4. Tell your story (and in new ways).
Content marketers are in the business of delivering stories. During Jonathan Mildenhall’s presentation, packed with mind-blowing examples of Coke’s own dedication to sharing experiences about, for, and with their audience, artist Kelly Kingman recreated the session in an entirely new format.
By creating a visual, real-time representation of Mildenhall’s keynote, Kingman demonstrated the limitless possibilities of content, showing that a single story (or in this case, a presentation about stories) can be re-imagined to create new and innovative pieces.
5. Eat your own dog food. (Or drink your own Coke.)
Jay Baer said this week that for marketers, content is our product. We agree. And we’d add, the best way to market your product is to use your product.
When you use your product, and can show how it has delivered results, it proves you’re not schilling snake oil. The first case study is you – how you use the product, why you use the product, and how to get the most value from the product. Consider ways to create content around your own use of the product. Customers will thank you for it.
6. Outrage is a powerful emotion (when used correctly).
Emotion remained a forefront topic at CMW this year. It’s clear that making an emotional connection with your readers, listeners, viewers, and buyers is critical.
Doug Kessler demonstrated how outrage can be a particularly powerful and relatable emotion. But it can’t just be an angry screed. You need to be sure your customers feel the same frustration, clearly articulate the problem, and then bring them to your solution with unassailable logic. How to pull that off? Check out Doug’s own rant on SlideShare.
7. Rock it.
Ann Handley said, “If fortune favors the bold, we’d better get bolder.”
But “bolder” doesn’t require Coca-Cola’s marketing budget or Oreo’s mission control center during the Super Bowl. It requires utility, inspiration, and empathy. Take, for example, Water Is Life’s “Hashtag Killer” campaign, an incredible takeover of the #firstworldproblems hashtag. Their video touches not just the brain but the heart, causing millions to nod their heads in agreement and think, “Yes, I understand. I feel that, too.”
8. Find your sweet spot.
“It’s not about you. It’s about your audience.” Speakers repeated this principle so often it turned into more of a mantra, firmly ingrained in the minds of attendees. And while it’s critical to put the audience first, truly great content marketing content is where the needs and frustrations of your audience intersect with the needs and frustrations of your company.
Doug Kessler called this the “real sweet spot,” and Jonathan Lister of LinkedIn shared a perfect example during his keynote. Here it is: LinkedIn’s audience wants more content from respected professionals in a similar field and position to them. LinkedIn wants to become “the definitive professional publishing platform.” So what did LinkedIn do? They created the hugely successful Influencer Program, with hundreds of thought leaders sharing insightful, industry-specific articles exclusively on the platform. A sweet spot, indeed.