By Joe Pulizzi published September 15, 2014

Beyond Storytelling: 7 Highlights from Content Marketing World 2014

rock hall-clevelandOne of the many things we love about Content Marketing World is that we can see the needle moving each year. We are no longer focused on simply determining what content marketing is and how to create it; we’ve progressed to working on how to make it more successful and how to integrate it into our organizations (which is why it’s critical for content marketing to be an enterprise team effort instead of an individual or siloed one).

And while the theme of this year’s conference was Beyond Storytelling — and there was an emphasis on how to truly become great – we learned so much more. We are still processing all of the conversations and sessions (in truth, we can relate to the team members from Akhia, who described their experience as, “heads spinning, dots connecting“). But in the meantime, here are just a few insights from this year’s event:

On a personal note, I continue to be amazed by the giving nature of the content marketing community — the attendees, the speakers, the partners — it all feels like we are all in this together and are looking out for each other as we find our way to new processes and solutions. Standing in front of 2,600 delegates from 50 countries really blew me away. You are the community. Thank you for helping us work to make a positive impact on so many lives.

Documentation

While the importance of having a strategy for content marketing is likely obvious by now, did you know that it is equally as critical to document that strategy? In my opening presentation, I shared highlights from our upcoming Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends research, and two particular trends were readily apparent: Effective marketers are far more likely to 1) document their strategy and 2) follow it closely.

Emotion

Of course, making an emotional connection is key to storytelling. Just watching the highly energetic keynote presentation delivered by Andrew Davis was a lesson, in and of itself, on how to tell a great story. But Andrew also shared the four elements he feels are vital for brilliant storytelling:

  • Building suspense
  • Fostering aspiration
  • Driving empathy
  • Harnessing emotion

Read more: Andrew Davis shares 4 secrets of brilliant storytelling at Content Marketing World 2014

Reach

There was a lot more emphasis on the ways marketers should promote their content, including the use of paid media. For instance, in her keynote presentation, Julie Fleischer questioned the purpose of content that you don’t feel is worthy of budget support: “If you wouldn’t spend money behind it, they why do it?” she asked.

Read more: Kraft Says It Gets Four Times Better ROI from Content Than Ads

Creativity

While the creation of quality content seems to be on an upward trend, several people we spoke with were adamant that content marketers need to focus more on producing truly creative content. Creativity may not always be a part of the job a marketer is accustomed to working with, but it’s an essential muscle we need to learn to exercise. And, it doesn’t need to be time-consuming to do so.

Here’s just one example: Since our 2014 Content Marketer of the Year, Bryan Rhoads, could not attend CMW in person, we asked him to share a video with our audience, instead. This short video he created is a great example of how to make something that can often be dry or boring (an acceptance speech for an award) truly entertaining.

Experience

In his afternoon keynote presentation, CMI’s Chief Strategy Officer Robert Rose discussed how important the role of marketing is in creating value. Content is key to making that happen. If we create truly remarkable content, we enable amazing experiences for our customers.  The more positive experiences we help to create with our customers, the more likely they are to become subscribers to our brand.

For more on this, please check out Robert’s excerpt from his upcoming book, co-written by content strategist Carla Johnson.

book cover-experiences

Authenticity and generosity

For a marketer who is admittedly “a big deal on Twitter,” Scott Stratten, President of Un-Marketing, is certainly not afraid to bite the hand that feeds his influence.

In his presentation — which pointed out many of the shortcomings associated with taking the story that data presents as law — Scott revealed a trend that he feels is slowly turning the vital landscape of social media into a noisy wasteland that’s increasingly difficult to navigate: “selfish social.” This is content that doesn’t contribute to the social ecosystem. It doesn’t offer value; it only reacts in response to messages received.

To combat this, Stratten encourages content marketers to be more genuine in how and when they communicate on Twitter and other social networks: “There’s a difference between being real-time and just being real,” he said.

Choice

Another theme was the importance of letting consumers decide how they are consuming content. Kevin Spacey hit on this in his keynote address when he talked about how Netflix gives people the choice to watch shows on a schedule that’s spread out, or binge watch episodes all at once. As he said, “Appointment viewing is likely more behind us than in front of us.”

Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be digging into all the great sessions and takeaways a lot more. If you want to get these updates, sign up for our weekly or daily newsletter.

If you were at Content Marketing World, we would love to get your take: What’s something you learned? What is your biggest takeaway?

You can also read — and add — your coverage of CMW to our List.ly:

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute , Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, including best-selling Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill) and the new book, Content Inc. Check out Joe's two podcasts. If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • http://www.websuccessagency.com Ricky Shockley

    Hey Joe, big fan (im actually reading Epic Content Marketing for the third time)– As an SEO person, I noticed that many of the posts on the CMI blog receive little engagment and very few if any inbound links. Yet, the CMI blog home page has several hundred linking domains. Can you talk about the importance of having a mission statement and content purpose so that your individual content pieces (each blog post) are part of a larger story and become the sum of their parts? Make sense?

    • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Ricky…thanks for the note and for buying the book. We are having our SEO person look at what you’ve pointed out. Right now I’m not sure we are seeing that, but I could be wrong. Most of our posts get 750+ shares, although we can always do better.

      Since you have the book, you’ll see the section on creating a mission statement and integrating that within all your content, but here is a specific post on it just in case. http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2012/10/content-marketing-mission-statement-2/

      Thanks again!
      Joe

      • http://www.websuccessagency.com Ricky Shockley

        Hi Joe, sorry for the confusion. I was actually just referring to links (not social shares)!

        Thanks for the reply–love the concept of using a defined mission statement as a filter for the content we produce…great stuff.