Three Key Content Marketing World Takeaways

September 8, 2011 •

Throughout the conference, different tracks provided content for everyone. In the Small Business/Non-Profit track, Thom Ruhe from The Kauffman Foundation and Clyde Miles from the Adcom Group of Companies partnered up to talk about turning non-profits into newsrooms.

Joining hundreds of content marketers from around the country and the world, Will DavisMike Sweeney and I headed up to Cleveland this week for Content Marketing World.

As I wrote last week in my post about expected highlights, the conference is packed with sessions and speakers, and my biggest regret is that I could not procure a clone for the week.

I’m writing this before the close of the conference, so I may miss some late breaking highlights, but below are some big takeaways from the conference.

1. Give stuff away for free but support it with a business model.

The conference had a signature drink, following the orange theme with the "Juntini."

The conference had a signature drink, following the orange theme with the “Juntini.”

One of the recurring discussions throughout the show was figuring out what to give away, what to put behind a registration wall, and when to start charging for content or making a pitch. Mike Stelzner of Social Media Examiner and Brian Clark of Copyblogger leaned towards giving great content away first, and figuring out how to monetize it later, while Jay Baer of Convince and Convert and Lynne Esparo from Nuance stressed the importance of having a business model first.

Of course, I weigh in on the “it depends” side. When you’re selling content marketing to a prospective client or an executive inside your own organization, you have to be able to show that content marketing will help with business goals. Yet it’s essential to hold off on anything that resembles selling until you’ve built an audience that trusts you.

2. Don’t talk about yourself.

Kevin Smith was "Surprisingly relevant," as described by Ann Handley on Twitter.

Kevin Smith was “Surprisingly relevant,” as described by Ann Handley on Twitter. Though he of course did a good bit of talking about himself (in a highly amusing way).

“Kill the cheerleaders,” said Todd Wheatland of Kelly OCG. Of course, this is a conference full of marketers, so it’s interesting to see speaker after speaker start or finish with a plug for their company and then continue to say “don’t talk about yourself,” but the point is valid. Telling clients or customers how great you are will not convince them that you are great. Producing great content is how you convince people you are great.

3. Execute, execute, execute.

Jim Kukral actually got down on his knees and begged the audience to, when they left the conference, actually DO something: create a piece of great content, seize on an idea, and take action. Don’t just shove your notes on the shelf.

Jim, this post is my quickly written answer to your plea, and don’t worry, it’s just the beginning.

Where can I read more?

Please comment with your own takeaways and recaps—I’d love to keep this conversation going.

If you’d like to learn more about content marketing, watch our featured webinar, What if You Build It and They Still Don’t Come?, in which Will Davis and Mike Sweeney outline the anatomy of a content marketing strategy. Watch the video >

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  • Great “Stuff” Tracy! Thanks for sharing!

    • You’re welcome! Thanks for coming by and reading.

  • Thanks for the notes Tracy!

    • You’re welcome! Glad to be helpful.

  • #2 is _so_ true. Nobody wants to hear how great you are, but everybody wants to hear how great you’re going to make them. Good post.

    • Thanks Pete– sometimes even telling people how great you’re going to make them can come off as too hard a sell. It’s a fine line, but yes, when you do come around to that sell, it should be focused on who you’re selling to, not on what you’re selling.

  • For a conference focused solely on online media, I was intrigued to see how many presenters came with a book to sell. At the signing, it wasn’t like they used an iPad to write an electronic signature to email to the buyer of an e-book, for the buyer to paste into the book. No, they were dead-tree books, and the author used a physical pen with ink to autograph the book. It seems that the knowledge isn’t “real” until it’s published in print. Does anyone else think that print is still a viable medium for content marketing? I sure do.

    • Great point, Carl.

      The most successful content marketing, I think, is marketing that is integrated throughout print and other traditional forms. It’s nice to have something to hold in your hand to remember a conference or company by, and in the case of book signings, to be able to run your finger over a signature to feel its texture on the paper.

      Maybe 50 years from now when we all have biochips that project out 3-D images of our credit cards, Ids, and ebooks, we won’t need traditional media, but it will definitely be around for quite some time.

    • I totally agree with Carl – someone said to me yesterday that ‘print is the new cool’! We at the APA our passionate about integrated content marketing – and many of the speakers at our summit will be talking about how they are using print along with other channels in a trully integrated content strategy – Come join us

      • Thanks for coming by, Julia–it’s definitely “cool” to advocate for print, which is still useful and important, in a world in which it’s often forgotten.

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