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5 Key Takeaways From Content Marketing World 2014

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Today is the first day back to work after spending four days in Cleveland at Content Marketing World 2014, and we aren’t going to lie, our feet are tired, our eyes are strained and our heads are bubbling to the brim with new ideas, concepts and strategies we can’t wait to implement here at ROI Online!

With more than 2,500 marketers in attendance from more than 50 countries, CM World certainly set the stage for a great platform to learn and connect.

The fourth-annual conference was jam-packed with interactive sessions, engaging panels, informative breakouts, networking opportunities, and of course, free swag and tasty orange treats. Opening with a colorful speech from Content Marketing Institute founder, Joe Pulizzi, and concluding with a fabulous, f-bomb-filled keynote from Kevin Spacey, there was so much to glean from this event. 

Here are our top five takeaways from Content Marketing World 2014.

1) Focus more on strategy.

This year at Content Marketing World, there was a huge focus on creating a content strategy. You should have a plan in place for every piece of content you produce, whether it’s a 140-character Tweet, a 500-word blog, a simple graphic or an advanced marketing campaign. Your content strategy not only needs to make sense for your business, but it always needs to make sense for your customer. Make sure your business has the time, budget, tools and skills to implement the strategy and ask yourself will the content motivate and inspire people to choose your product or service.

According to Brain Traffic founder and author Kristina Halvorson’s session, Strategy First: Look Before You Leap, “content strategy guides planning for the creation, delivery and governance of useful, usable content.” In short, make your content count.

Another highlight of Halvorson’s session was her urging all content marketers to ask, WHY. With two former newspaper reporters at ROI Online, that certainly isn’t a problem. While our "whying" may chafe our coworkers a bit, now we don’t feel so bad. Thanks, Kristina. 

2) Create a moment of inspiration, and trigger a moment to act.

These wise words came from best-selling author Andrew Davis during CM World’s opening keynote on Tuesday, Sept. 9. Rather than solely focusing on web traffic and likes, and producing content that revolves around the moment of purchase, create content earlier in the buyer’s journey and concentrate on the customer.CM_World_boards

He encouraged listeners to,"Stop creating campaigns and to start making commitments to tell a valuable story,” because it’s a valuable story and inspirational content that gives you a return on your investment. 

3) Become a better storyteller.

In Sorry Did You Say Something? The Future of Content is Writing, Ann Handley, the chief content officer of MarketingProfs, told us to follow five steps in order to become a better storyteller:

  1. Follow a writing GPS — Set a plan for yourself.
  2. Write with a strong, unforgettable voice — Have some recklessness in your writing and do sweat the small stuff.
  3. Write to one person — Focus on the customer, not a marketing segment or persona.
  4. See content moments everywhere — Make the customer the hero of your story.
  5. Give customer gifts — Simply delighting your customer with a story can be a gift.

So how can someone sift through the noise and comb through the content overload online? You have to think about empathy and experience instead of just articles and blog posts; you have to create relevant content and tell inspiring stories; and you have to focus on useful information.

Shane Snow’s session, Storytelling & The Next Level of Content Marketing, was akin to Handley’s. Snow told a story of a homeless man on the street holding a sign with the words, “Blind man with no pension.” Snow stumbled upon the man, and the man told Snow he wasn’t getting any money so Snow offered to rewrite the man’s sign. He changed it to “Spring is coming, but I won’t see it,” and a week later, the homeless man raved about the sign’s success.

Emotion makes people act, so you have to give people an emotion to grab onto.

4) Work smarter, not harder.

In order to be a successful content marketer, you must stay organized. If you

already have good content on hand, keep track of it and repurpose it. In Ruth P. Steven’s session, A to Z: Planning Your Content Library, she stressed the importance of examining your customers’ buying process and creating a “content audit.”

At ROI Online, we produce heaps of original content for our clients every week, and much of this content is for different industries. We personally understand how critical it is to have a well-structured system in place. Steven’s advice will certainly come in handy for us.


5) And last but not least, wear comfortable shoes.

Yes, this is a given, but you know how your mom always tells you annoying, yet sage advice, but you never listen, and you have to figure it out the hard way? Well, this is what happened to us.

The shoes we wore held false promises of stylish yet long-wearing comfort and arch support, but alas, we ended up with blisters, sores and acute Achilles tendinitis. And we weren’t the only ones. On the first day, we saw cute pointed-toe flats, strappy wedge sandals, fall boots and even towering stilettos. By the second full day at Co

ntent Marketing World, the overall style of shoes had dramatically decreased. Crocs, Toms and Bobs reigned supreme, and Band-Aids peeked out from under the tips of the shoes. Needless to say, sometimes function does come before fashion!

We of course have so much more from Content Marketing World to share with everyone, and we will in the coming days. Come back and visit our blog for insider tips and tricks straight from CM World 2014!

See you next year, Cleveland!

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