By Joe Pulizzi published September 14, 2013

Content Marketing Boldly Goes Forward: 7 Trends from #CMWorld

pulizzi and shatnerWhat an amazing week this has been!

As many of you know, Content Marketing Institute hosted our annual Content Marketing World event in Cleveland, Ohio this week. While we expected to gain insight on many storytelling and content marketing strategy topics (which we certainly did), a number of surprising themes emerged throughout the discussions that took place at the conference — in sessions, in workshops, and in hallway conversations, as well as behind the scenes.

Though far too many lessons were learned to list them all here in detail, here are a few of the powerful content ideas and trends that stood out in the minds of the CMI team — and the participants who shared their thoughts with us.

We’ll be digging into many of these ideas (and others) in more detail — here on the blog, as well as across Content Marketing Institute’s other content offerings — so be sure to check back in the upcoming weeks and months.


No matter what industry you’re in and who you are marketing to, your content needs to be planned around a clearly outlined purpose. Why do you exist — and why do your customers think you exist (warning: these could be vastly different)? It’s vital to understand the why behind your content strategy before you can even begin to put together the how and the where.

On a related note, this year cause marketing — which ties your brand to a larger purpose — took a more prominent role in discussions than it had at previous #CMWorld events. One highlight was Russell Sparkman‘s new infographic on how to create a purpose-driven content engine.

Takeaway: Before building your content marketing strategy, ask yourself these key questions:

  • What is your mission statement?
  • Why has your organization decided to create content in the first place?
  • How can you create something meaningful for both your brand and your audience?


In his keynote address, The Coca-Cola Company’s Jonathan Mildenhall aptly stated, “If you don’t have room to fail, you don’t have a way to grow.” To succeed, we need to embrace a culture of risk, which allows us to try new things. Failing forward quickly is OK — and should even be encouraged — as there is no better way to learn.

For a bit of inspiration on moving away from your comfort zone, read what contentgroup’s David Pembroke learned about fear and content marketing during our evening event at Cleveland’s House of Blues.

Takeaway: It’s time to get uncomfortable and experiment. Make a commitment to try at least one new idea that pushes the boundaries of your standard content M.O.


Jonathan Mildenhall also discussed the concept of “liquid storytelling” — marketing that is fluid and can easily “zig” when the market or audience trends “zag.” Similarly, Kathy Button-Bell, Chief Marketing Officer at Emerson, remarked that her organization’s marketing “lives in beta,” as they are constantly evolving what they create and the processes they use to create it.

Takeaway: We live in a dynamic world, where the only constant is change. Learn to embrace the chaos as you evolve your content marketing strategy and tactics, and don’t expect perfection each and every time.


Yes, we’re all busy (as you’ll see in our upcoming CMI research study, “lack of time” was cited as the top content marketing challenge); but one thing you need to prioritize — and not outsource — is creativity. Though a spark of creativity can occur anytime and anywhere, it doesn’t always fit neatly into your project timelines. So, while it’s great to schedule creative meetings and plan your content marketing efforts around big, innovative ideas, it’s also important to prepare for it to happen organically — or sometimes not at all. To quote keynote speaker Jay Baer, “Inspiration does not respond to meeting requests.”

Takeaway: Don’t forget to step back and have some fun. Build time into your content marketing process to brainstorm, share ideas, and really get creative, but also be ready to shift gears to incorporate great ideas that pop up later on.


It’s certainly not news that we’re all inundated with information these days, and that marketers need to create remarkable content that will be heard above all the other noise. But it’s also important to remember that your competition for audience mindshare isn’t just coming from the other companies that play in your space — you’re competing for attention with every data source out there. What’s Jay Baer’s barometer for grabbing his attention and getting him to spend time with your message? “Are you more interesting than my wife?

Jay also noted that there’s a distinct advantage in creating content that directly addresses people’s challenges and informational needs. So if you want to grab attention, your goal should be for your content to answer every conceivable question your target audience may have, so all they are left to do is focus on enjoying it.

Takeaway: To determine whether your content will be worthy of their attention, think about your answers to these questions:

  • What is your core audience already spending time with?
  • What can you do to be more useful, valuable, interesting and/or entertaining than that?


Many conversations at CMW focused on data and measurement — just as they do at all digital industry events these days. But this year, in particular, there seemed to be a strong focus on deriving insight from these data points — i.e., how to process all the facts, figures, and feedback we’re collecting, and how to use that information to inform and improve our future content efforts.

Takeaway: Instead of simply collecting data to share with management, have a plan in hand for what you will be doing with the data you collect. If you aren’t prepared to leverage what you learn as part of your ongoing content marketing strategy, consider shifting some of your metrics resources into more creative or productive efforts. 


More than ever before, creating effective content marketing today requires efficient and robust tools, such as content management systems — particularly in an enterprise environment. But it also requires the know-how to work with these systems and integrate them into your existing marketing (and business) processes. Too often, our industry’s practitioners don’t have a full understanding of the technology they are working with, or know how to use it to their full strategic advantage throughout the organization.

Sadly, this is more than just a technology education and awareness issue. It’s a product of a general failure to communicate — across functional disciplines, across languages, and across siloed teams.

Takeaway: Content management solutions are evolving toward breaking down these knowledge and interaction barriers. But it’s also up to content marketers themselves to “walk the walk” when it comes to sharing information, learning to use more efficient processes, and evangelizing cross-functional participation. For example, try de-siloing your content calendar by involving other teams in your development efforts and getting their valuable input right from the start.

While the content marketing industry has made tremendous strides in all directions over the last few years, Content Marketing World 2013 confirmed that there’s still a lot we can learn from one another. I know our editorial team is looking forward to using the insights we’ve gathered to enhance our content efforts, and I hope you came away with many actionable ideas, as well.

What were some of the surprising things you took away from the event? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Also, I’d like to give a huge thanks to everyone who has been writing about the event. Posts are below — and please feel free to add yours — or others you’ve read. We’re excited to share what we learned at #CMWorld with our readers and other Content Marketing Institute evangelists.

130 items   33 followers   81 votes   5.86k views

Content Marketing World 2013: Articles About the Event

Here are articles about #cmworld 2013 for attendees as well as those who can not be there. Please add your posts!


Sep 10, 2013 by Michael Brenner - - 997
Content Quality vs. Content Quantity - The Great Content Debate

Content quality vs. content quantity. How much content is enough? How good does it need to be? Every business struggles with this question. And the quality vs. quantity debate is something marketers have always struggled with. Reach vs. frequency. Sending enough leads to satisfy sales vs. sending them leads that convert to purchase.

Sep 13, 2013 by Peter C. Beller - - 805
The #CMWorld podcast from Ebyline

Want to know what your fellow #CMWorld attendees were thinking on day one? So did Ebyline so we did an NPR-style podcast featuring interviews from Tuesday's networking cocktail hour, including with Joe Pulizzi. It's also a great way to showcase how professional freelance talent and brands can work together to create content that engages, quickly and easily.

Sep 03, 2013 - - 850
The Kick-Ass Guide to Cleveland for Content Marketing World Attendees

Content Marketing World Special Edition: In the run up to Content Marketing World, we invited Amanda Hicken, our Cleveland-based manager of media relations and the author of the Clue into Cleveland Blog to recommend her favorite must- see (and must-eat and must-shop) places near the Cleveland Convention Center, especially for Content Marketing World attendees.

Sep 11, 2013 by Uberflip - - 997
Rolling Content by Uberflip - #CMWorld 2013 Featured Speakers
Sep 10, 2013 by J-P De Clerck - - 1122
Content Marketing World 2013: the lack of a content strategy

Joe Pulizzi kicked off the first "official" day of Content Marketing World 2013 emphasizing the lack and need of a formal content strategy.

Sep 11, 2013 by Uberflip - - 1110
Rolling Content: #CMWorld Hall of Fame Speakers

Uberflip is at Content Marketing World this week to officially launch our latest product, Hubs! Hubs empowers marketers to take control of their content and social networks in one centralized and responsive front-end experience. With over 1200 amazing content marketers in attendance, I think it was only natural for Hubs to make its debut at #CMWorld.

Sep 14, 2013 by J-P De Clerck - - 974
Content Marketing World 2013: the state of content marketing in Europe

AJ Huisman, one of the content marketing pioneers in Europe and marketing director at Kennedy Van der Laan presented European content marketing cases at Content Marketing World 2013. He also draws some conclusions on the state of content marketing in Europe.

Sep 14, 2013 by J-P De Clerck - - 998
Lee Odden: the future of content and content marketing

The future of content and content marketing through the eyes of Optimize author Lee Odden at Content Marketing World 2013.

Sep 05, 2013 - - 1065
17 (now 18) People You Should Meet at Content Marketing World

On September 9th, I will be attending the third annual Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland, Ohio. Through my experiences attending the conference for the past two years, I've created a list of outstanding and exemplary individuals to meet at the conference. Here's a look at who you should meet and the topics you might discuss.

Sep 09, 2013 by Matt C Heinz - - 907
Getting the most out of Content Marketing World (even if you're not there) #cmworld

I am incredibly bummed to be missing this week's Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland. The event officially starts tonight, but many attendees started arriving and networking last night. Every out-of-town event offers a common set of opportunities for attendees, but here are a few recommendations specifically for this week's event - most for those attending, but a few for those like me who will be watching from afar.

Sep 10, 2013 by Jeffrey L Cohen - - 1121
Customer Retention: The Imperative for Creating a B2B Marketing Advantage

Prior to her Content Marketing World session, Ardath Albee conducted an online survey of B2B marketers and found the following top 3 goals for customer retention: 74% Increase Customer Renewals 74% Cross and Upsell 72% Engage Customers in Dialogue And what about creating different content for acquisition versus retention?

Sep 12, 2013 - - 1066
Content 20/20 - Coca Cola's Content Strategy #CMWorld

There's no doubt about it: Coca-Cola is one of the, if not THE most recognized brand in the world. At the afternoon keynote presentation at Content Marketing World 2013 Day 1, the crowd was lucky enough to hear one of Coke's most important marketing strategists - Jonathan Mildenhall - who is the Vice President of Global Creative and also one of the rockstars in our Content Marketing Rocks!

Sep 12, 2013 by thierry gillmann - - 929
Facebook tue les marques, le contenu les ressuscite

Le compte-rendu du Content Marketing World continue. Encore 48 présentations ce mercredi. Je vous rassure je ne les ai pas toutes vues. La keynote du Professeur Don Schultz a bien lancé la machine. Et la vidéo a été à l'honneur tout au long de la journée.

Sep 12, 2013 by Amanda Nelson - - 906
30 Excellent Quotes from Content Marketing Experts

Content Marketing World was not only an orange-colored, content-rich conference of sessions, speakers, keynotes and live rock music, but it was a place to curate and be inspired by empowering quotes from content marketing experts. I captured a bunch in my notebook, iphone and via Twitter. Here are the best of the best.

Sep 12, 2013 by Craig Hodges - - 1087
Content marketing lessons from Four Seasons

Question: What happens when you mix an enthusiastic brand marketer from Toronto with a content marketing agency from North Carolina? Answer: A content marketing program that's the envy of the hospitality industry!

Sep 14, 2013 by J-P De Clerck - - 1043
Key Content Marketing World 2013 takeaways by King Content - day one

Content marketing: some facts to remember from day 1 of #cmworld - with context and comments.

Sep 14, 2013 by J-P De Clerck - - 861
Content Marketing World day 2: branding, big data and globalization

Big data, brand preference, trust and global marketing were key topics at day 2 of Content Marketing World 2013. Australia-based King Content made two slideshare presentations covering the key insights from Content Marketing World 2013 in the US. We covered the key takeaways from day one more in depth earlier.

Sep 15, 2013 by Michele M Linn - - 872
Content Marketing World Impressed a 15-Year Trade Show Veteran | TSNN Trade Show News

To be honest, Content Marketing World didn’t simply impress me; it knocked my socks off. It was an event to which every trade show and conference organizer should aspire to produce.

Sep 18, 2013 by J-P De Clerck - - 1019
Content Marketing World 2013 Wrap-Up - TopRank Style

Wow. Again! The great thing about Content Marketing World was having been there for the first and second years' events only to have an even better experience the third time around. Hats off to Joe Pulizzi, Pam Kozelka, Robert Rose, Joe Kalinowski, Cathy McPhillips, Michelle Linn and the entire CMI team on a fantastic conference.

Sep 09, 2013 by allen narcisse - - 985
Panel Interview: CMWorld 2013 And The Power Of Public Speaking

With the biggest content marketing convention of the year here, Ebyline took the opportunity to chat with 5 Content Marketing World 2013 speakers about the power of public speaking. Our panel of experts were asked 5 questions about the value of public speaking events, and even what they get out of hearing someone speak when they're in the audience.

Sep 10, 2013 by Siobhan McGinty - - 929
18 Things That Will Form The Future Of Content Marketing

Myself and Alan just attended a great talk by Content Marketing Specialist Lee Oden. I was typing like a maniac so I could publish a blog post super quickly especially for all those people just couldn't get to #CMWorld (you're missing out by the way, it's amazing!).

Sep 10, 2013 by Katie Elizabeth Walley-Wiegert - - 940
Content Marketing World Recap: Buyer Persona Workshop With Adele Revella

Adele was a key contributor in creating Pragmatic's methodology, which many in product management know and love. She followed her passion, founding the Buyer Persona Institute, where she has come up with some pretty cool tips and tricks for research that might improve your current research initiatives.

Sep 10, 2013 by Sarah Skerik - - 883
Baer Keynote Recap: Market Your Marketing:

Content Marketing World kicked off this morning with Jay Baer (@jaybaer), author of Youtility. The top-rated speaker of CMW last year, Jay didn't disappoint today. Echoing the themes of his book, Jay insisted that the best marketing content is that which is so good people would pay for it.

Sep 10, 2013 by Sarah Skerik - - 1076
Visual Content: It's Not an Option, it's an Imperative

Todd Wheatland crushed his Content Marketing World session titled "Visual Content Marketing Strategies You Probably Aren't Using and Should." Here are the highlights.

Sep 10, 2013 by Sarah Skerik - - 815
The Future of Search, Social & Content [Recap of Lee Odden's session]

Content is more than information - it's storytelling that provides meaningful experiences and inspires action. Lee Odden (@leeodden) of TopRank Online Marketing drove home the importance of emotion as he delved into the "Future of Content on Search and Social Web" at Content Marketing World (#CMWorld) earlier today.

To quote my mentor, Don Schultz, “So, let’s get on with it!”

If you were unable to attend Content Marketing World, or missed a valuable session, you can still access over 40 audio sessions, as well as many of our keynote video performances via our Video On Demand portal. 


Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • Henley Wing

    Joe, that list from is enormous. You might want to limit the size of it, as I have to keep scrolling to reach the comments.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Henley…thanks. We are aware of it and are looking at options. I guess we should be happy so many people wrote about the event 🙂