I’m in the air flying home from Content Marketing World. My brain is pulsating with everything I heard, trying to wrap my head around it all. It was an incredible gathering of brainpower and forward thinking, with new ideas, new technologies and new ways of thinking about the very near-term future of marketing and business.

I mean, wow.

It’s overwhelming.

In an effort to try to organize my thoughts and to inform you about some of what is going on out there, here’s a list of the 42 things I learned at Content Marketing World. Many of these things I already knew, or know innately, but they were often said in a far more eloquent way and/or reinforced the thinking. And, importantly, this is only a partial list because there were plenty of sessions running concurrently with the sessions I went to… so consider this the tip of the iceberg:

Main Themes:

  1. Customers do not want to be sold to; they want to be helped. Content must provide help to the customer in order to begin to build trust.
  2. Measurement is critical. However, data is not the same as insight.
  3. Brands are in trouble; brand preference is disappearing. To begin to regain their standing with the audience they must tell stories.
  4. Marketers say they are still struggling to create quality content.

Significant Thoughts:

  1. Market your marketing. You have to work hard to distribute your content so that it is found, and therefore has maximum impact.
  2. Robert Rose of CMI theorized that there are 4 archetypes of content: The Promoter, the Preacher, the Professor and the Poet. The best mix is the combination of Promoter and Poet – promoting the product while spinning stories that make people fall in love with it.
  3. Use anger (but don’t be overtly angry). The goal of content marketing – and really all marketing -should be to hit home runs. You hit home runs by combining attitude and energy. That often requires emotion and Doug Kessler suggests using an underused emotion – hate. A well-crafted rant that demonstrates that the emperor has no clothes – or that most of your industries’ thinking is antiquated – can change hearts and minds.
  4. Forbes’ Randall Lane says 2013 is the year of the Great Truce between marketing and editorial. Forbes is having success creating custom content for brands by applying consumer magazine standards to even the driest material.
  5. One of the best ways to build trust is to admit your shortcomings right up front.
  6. Don Schultz, Professor Emeritus at Northwestern University, says too much of marketing is based upon the lessons learned during the dominant mass media era that ran from 1970 to 1990. Well, the world has changed, and all those old ideas simply don’t work anymore because of the way media has changed.
  7. More from Schultz: Media intensity ratio – defined as the time spent with a given medium divided by its impact on the buying decision – is an important consideration. A blog has the highest media intensity ratio, and the brands that have the highest media intensity ratio generally have very rich content.
  8. It is important for content marketers to remember that we are not in competition with SEO, advertising, public relations, etc. Content marketing is an approach that should be amplified by all of those more traditional tactics (not to mention new and still emerging tactics).
  9. While SEO is usually the business case for content marketing, it is rarely where the true value lies. The true value is in creating a deeper, more trusting relationship with the customer.
  10. You can’t keep marketing to the people who are retiring; you need to market to the up-and-comers. Yeah, that’s a little ageist, but it’s also smart business.
  11. Content works if it follows the rules of journalism: timeliness, relevance, proximity, prominence, usefulness and human interest.
  12. Webinars should be mini-theatrical events. In other words, don’t half-ass your presentation.
  13. Marketing agencies must have an insatiable appetite for technology and be early adopters. When they are, they’re more able to adapt their own business models and create strategic connections that aren’t readily apparent.
  14. Measure, measure, measure. The team that keeps score is the team that wins.

Great Quotes:

  1. “There is a difference between selling and helping.” Jay Baer, author or Youtility
  2. “There is a personal and commercial collision.” Jay Baer. Think about your Facebook feed – personal anecdotes from friends and family interspersed with commercial messages. Therefore, your content is in competition with everything – consider that as of 2011 there were 173 million blogs in the world, all vying for people’s attention.
  3. “Trust is the prism through which all business success must pass.” Jay Baer
  4. “Just because content is cool doesn’t make it innovative.” Ann Handley of MarketingProfs
  5. “Content Marketing means you consistently create and share information that is packed with utility, seeded with inspiration and is honestly empathetic in order to attract customers to you. Empathy is not what you do; it’s what you do for your customers. Ann Handley
  6. “Your top-of-the-funnel content should be intellectually divorced from your product, but emotionally wedded to it” – Ann Handley, quoting Joe Chernov of Kinvey.
  7. Marketers have all fallen in love with technology and forgotten that people buy from brands that tell stories. You job is to tell stories and overcome technology.” Don Schultz
  8. “The job of brands is creating content.” Don Schultz
  9. “The future of brands is all about content marketing.  How do we engage with people, not with markets?” Don Schultz
  10. “Marketing is not a department. You must become a social business.” Bernie Borgas.
  11. “Let’s get on with it.” Don Schultz

Statistics: 

  1. According to soon-to-be-released research from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 50 percent of organizations do not have a documented content marketing strategy.
  2. Just 42 percent of marketers say their content is effective.
  3. Don Schultz cited research showing that brand preference has declined an average of 1.68 percent every year for the last decade. Brands have been commoditized; people now prefer stores rather than brands.

Great New Tools (courtesy of Joe Chernov’s presentation):

  1. Percolate, which helps brands “create content at social scale.” Chernov said this is perfect for community managers at major brands that have a lot of social accounts across numerous channels. After a discovery to kick things off, the technology searches the web for relevant information and feeds it to you, providing a stream of content ideas.
  2. Lookbook HQ. Specifically for B2B marketers, it combines elements of Pinterest and SlideShare to create visual, engaging storytelling.
  3. Uberflip. Flipboard for your brand, curating content you may want to share with your audience.
  4. Little Bird. This seems especially cool. It allows marketers to identify and engage with real influencers and then to discover news before it crests. So, find great content ideas, then spread the word.
  5. PaperShare. Wraps individual content assets in a social container than follows the content wherever it goes, so that people can “sign up” without moving to a landing page.

My Impressions:

  1. There is huge opportunity in front of brands and agencies that embrace content.
  2. There is also a ton of work in front of them.
  3. Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi really loves Cleveland.
  4. Coca-Cola’s Jonathan Mildenhall wowed the crowd with a spectacular demonstration of Coke’s content marketing strategy. I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority, but I don’t consider what Coke does to be content marketing. It’s brilliant, it’s brave, but it seems like just really good advertising to me.
  5. I’m very confident Scribewise is well-positioned for this future because we have the talent and willingness to perform the rinse-and-repeat of content creation. Many folks are looking for shortcuts, but it will always come down to the ability to produce high quality content on a regular, ongoing basis.

So that’s what I’ve gleaned so far. Give me a little more time to let this percolate in my head, and I know new ideas will bubble up and coalesce.

It’s all very exciting.