Content Marketing World, the globe’s foremost conference on content marketing, took place September 8-11 in Cleveland. There were hundreds of great sessions on everything from storytelling to SEO, from infographics to improvisation. For me, three sessions stood out – not because they fit the mold, but because their messages were counterintuitive and iconoclastic. Here are the three themes that made me think the most:
- We don’t need any more content marketers
- Put your worst foot forward
- Don’t try to maximize your social media reach
Let’s explore each to understand what’s behind these provocative headlines.
1. We Don’t Need Any More Content Marketers
Jay Baer, author of Youtility, came up with this gem. According to Baer, we have enough content marketers…but not enough good ones. He explained that content marketing is the bridge between a company and its customers. Despite what you may have heard about artificial intelligence, real people create this content. The most successful content marketers are the ones who have a passion for helping improve decision making. For this to work most effectively, it has to be authentic and in line with the company’s DNA. When it’s real, it passes the “mom test” because moms can always tell when someone’s trying to fake it. Coincidentally, Kellogg professor and author Mohan Sawhney, who spoke September 15 at the fall meeting of the Institute for the Study of Business Markets, said almost exactly the same thing about content marketing. He said human beings – not companies – write content and read it. It is engagement that moves hearts and minds, not massive volumes of content created for the sake of schedules or statistics.
2. Put Your Worst Foot Forward
This one speaks to authenticity as well. Doug Kessler, co-founder of Velocity Partners, suggested a radical strategy for how to describe your company’s products or services. Don’t hide your shortcomings – celebrate them. He cites the 1960s Volkswagen ads that called their own cars “ugly.” For a more recent example, see Hans Brinker Budget Hotels. Why accentuate your worst qualities? Because it saves time. You alienate the customers you don’t want and attract the ones you do want. You’re using marketing not as a magnet, but a filter. This “insane honesty” also surprises readers, charms them, signals confidence and builds their trust. After admitting there are some things your prospects might not like, they are more apt to believe the things you say they will like. We all know it takes precious time and money to chase down leads. Why not eliminate some of the ones you know will inevitably be turned off by your offering? If you know you’ll be the highest price, why not provide a warning. Not a good fit for certain applications? Say so. Missing key services? Put it out there. Overcome the objections… before they overcome you.
3. Don’t Try to Maximize Your Social Media Reach
What’s this all about? We all love it when we get hundreds or thousands – or even millions – of likes. We’re a hero…at least for a day. According to Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping, we go through an addiction cycle in social media in which we first desire response, crave followers, get a rush from wildly successful posts, but then crash when engagement rapidly declines. Davis believes we should think about the long term, not the quick hits. We should be building “social momentum” over time across multiple channels. As we track our peaks and valleys of overall engagement, we should be trying to raise the valleys instead of trying to maximize the peaks,. If the troughs, or low points, get higher and higher over time, then we are more consistently engaging our audience. It doesn’t matter if we’re not hitting the highest highs. It matters much more if our “crash” is not as low as it used to be. Instead of the wild roller coaster ride, your social media begins to look like a cycle of “grow-plateau-slow…grow-plateau-slow.”
If there was one overarching theme of Content Marketing World, it might be “quality over quantity.” It’s a sign of maturity when the talk changes from “get it out there” to “make sure it’s good.” This theme, along with the three take-aways above, should not represent an invitation to back off of content marketing. Quite the contrary. There are more tools and channels than ever – especially within mobile and video – that can take your content marketing program to an entirely new level. However, that new level can no longer be attained by content overload. It will be obtained with authenticity, honesty and consistency. Shocking.
Please watch the companion video for this post by clicking below and read our other blog posts on content marketing. And to discuss content marketing or learn about Dix & Eaton’s offerings in this area, please feel free to contact Dave Loomis.