This week I had the surreal honor of attending Content Marketing World 2011 in Cleveland. I say “surreal” because I was surrounded by people who didn’t just chant “Content is King.” These people are actually running the kingdom.
The overall message that emerged from the conference was simple but refreshing:
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1. SEO is no longer in charge.
Finally, a conference where SEO, keywords and “gaming” Google are not the obsession. The message: treat Google like any other visitor. As Lisa LaCour of Outbrain said, “We need to write for readers, not robots.” Yes, the recent death of content farms (courtesy of the Google Panda Update) was shamelessly celebrated at Content Marketing World. We still respect SEO, but we’re no longer slaves. Just ask Marcus Sheridan, CEO of River Pools & Spas. He literally saved his business with Content Marketing. His best keyword tool? Listening to his customers.
2. Real-Time Content wins.
Just as SEO no longer rules, our days of “sitting on” content opportunities in order to “play it safe” are long gone. David Meerman Scott challenged Content Marketers to differentiate themselves (or their brands) by responding to news, events and happenings immediately. Forget calling a meeting that will be rescheduled or running the idea by legal or PR. If you’re a thought leader within your industry, you better lead the pack with real-time content or simply get out of the way. The moral of the story for those of us who are planners by nature: build room within editorial calendars, assign owners (give them autonomy), and build content teams that are nimble.
3. Fascinate readers or die.
Sally Hogshead, author of Fascinate, delivered a killer keynote like only Sally can (she truly embodies her message). Bottom line: your content must fascinate and emotionally engage readers or you’ll lose them–plain and simple. The best way to do that? Get in touch with your own fascinating “triggers” — then deliver content like only you can. Don’t think you’re fascinating? Go learn your F-Score and get to work.
4. Build trust, not page views.
We all know that creating content isn’t enough. It must be seen. But, unlike recent years when the theme was “pump up the volume,” now we can all focus on what really matters: relevant traffic, quality leads and solving our readers’ problems. This is especially relevant for B2B Content Marketers. Rather than 1 million views from anyone and everyone, shoot for 100 views by readers you can truly help. Solve their problem. Earn their trust. Win their business…for life. Ardath Albee, author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale challenged us to create content that directly addresses every step of the sales process, obstacle by obstacle. B2B content must directly address the workarounds prospects already have in place and the “what ifs” that are inevitable within organizations.
5. Be honest.
I admit, my first response to having Kevin Smith at Content Marketing World was a 100% pure “WTF?” Kevin’s closing session was a lesson in how Content Marketing trumps traditional marketing every time. He said, “Put ego aside and let your audience sell your stuff!” I quickly learned (along with the rest of Content Marketing World’s attendees) that Kevin chopped out the middleman in the movie business and spoke and interacted directly with his audiences through podcasts, personal appearances, you name it. Bottom line: Kevin produced “smack you over the head” content instead of producing traditional commercials. It worked. His mantra: “Just go out there and be f***in’ honest.” Nothing and no one rings truer to the power and spirit of Content Marketing. Thanks Kevin. You were inspiring in a very unexpected and sometimes uncomfortable way!
Want to learn more?
The Content Marketing Institute blogged a terrific play-by-play of Content Marketing World. This amazing team organized what was, by far, one of the best industry events I’ve ever attended. Those of us lucky enough to attend this inaugural year are still in awe of how the CMI team managed to pull off such a flawless event. Keep your eye on Content Marketing World to learn more about 2012.