Skip to content

The 2 Things You Need to Know From the Best CMWorld Talks (Including Tina Fey’s)

After I interviewed Tina Fey at Content Marketing World, several people asked if she was as nice in person as she seemed on stage.

Their inquiries called to mind something my colleague Robert Rose raised on the same stage at the beginning of Content Marketing World.

“Trust is the new player … We have the power to shape beliefs,” he said. “(Content marketing) is our opportunity … to become a or the trusted source of interesting things.”

#Contentmarketing is your opportunity to become a trusted source, says @Robert_Rose Share on X

Sure, Tina was interesting and funny and gave great advice to content creators, but what the audience really wanted to know was whether the person they heard on stage was as genuine, earnest, self-deprecating, and humorous behind the scenes.

They also wanted to know if Andrew Davis really didn’t know what was in the “mystery box” he brought to the stage during his high-energy presentation on curiosity. And, does Joe Pulizzi really write down his goals each day as he urged the audience to do?

Their questions – and Robert’s assertion – struck a chord I heard repeatedly during Content Marketing World.

To build and grow an audience, you need to earn its trust.

It takes more than words

But how do you – as a marketer and as a brand – get an audience to trust you?

You (and your content) must be authentic.

You (and your content) must have meaning, a meaning that resonates with your brand and your desired audience.

Yet content is one of the reasons we’re in an epidemic of meaninglessness, Kathleen Diamantakis of The New York Times’ T Brand Studio said. Fortunately, content also can be the solution.

#Content can add to the epidemic of meaninglessness, but can also be a solution. @KathleenDia @TBrandStudio Share on X

“If we can achieve meaning, we can achieve vitality, well-being, life satisfaction,” Kathleen said. Her role as managing director of strategy at T Brand (and its experiential agency Fake Love) is to help brands play a more meaningful role in the world.

Kathleen shared an inspiring example Fake Love created for the soda brand 7UP. As part of its year-long Music Lifts You Up campaign, which centered on electronic dance music and targeted millennials, 7UP and EMD prodigy Martin Garrix teamed up with experiential artists to create a once-in-a-lifetime music experience for an all deaf audience.

As impressive as 7UP’s concert was, a big-budget event isn’t the only way to create meaningful content. Kathleen shared another example that, while less inspirational, is meaningful for most of us – Walgreen’s mobile app. It allows customers to reorder and pick up prescriptions at locations other than their “home” pharmacy and pushes reminders so people don’t miss doses (among other useful things).

Content’s meaning is in the eye of the beholder – and that eye looks at content differently depending on time and circumstance.

Give meaning to the ordinary

Professional photographer Dewitt Jones, who spent 20 years with National Geographic, shared an interesting perspective on meaning and authenticity in his talk. While he showed dozens of beautiful images and inspiring messages, his story of a dandelion field really resonated with me.

When he first visited the yellow-dotted field of dandelions, he didn’t want to spend the time to shoot it. When he came back, the beautiful yellow of the dandelions had turned into a colorless field of fluff balls – boring white fluff balls. But he didn’t walk away. Instead, he reframed his thinking ­– and found something extraordinary, which Emilie Moreland shared in this tweet:

How often do you approach a piece of content dreading its creation? You’re bored with the topic. You face writer’s block. You can’t think of an interesting way to tell a mundane story.

What if you followed Dewitt’s advice and adjusted your thinking: Reframe obstacles into possibilities. Imagine the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Reframe obstacles into possibilities. Imagine the extraordinary in the ordinary. @dewittjones #cmworld Share on X
HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: 27 Ideas to Break Your Creative Slump

Blow up and start anew (sort of)

When Ann Handley got an inquiry from a reader about why he hadn’t received her e-newsletter in a while, she greeted the response as most of us would – she gave an explanation, excuses really, for why she hadn’t been sending it out.

But then she reframed her thinking. She took the critical inquiry as the impetus to reflect on the value of her newsletter, Total Annarchy. Then she blew it up and sent the pieces to rehab.

When she reshaped and recommitted to it, she shared more of herself and her thoughts. She made it more authentic.

That authenticity has been well received. The 3,000 subscribers at relaunch had grown to 10,000 by early September. And, given how many people received the “can’t-process-now-because-of-too-many-requests” message when they tried to sign up during her presentation, I’m guessing that number is a lot more today.

The ability to create meaningful and authentic content – to deliver what her brand and her audience need and want in a creative and engaging way – is just one of the reasons Ann also became the first inductee into the Content Marketing Institute Hall of Fame.

Meaning and authenticity never end

Though I didn’t hear all 200-plus speakers at Content Marketing World, I know meaning and authenticity were key ingredients in each presentation. Even if the speakers never used those words, they were talking about them.

Do SEO better? Create quality content that resonates with your target audience.

Enhance your buyer personas? Get a better understanding of what is meaningful to your audience.

Develop an influencer strategy? Select influencers who fit your brand, are transparent about relationships, and whose followers like what they share.

Meaning and authenticity were ingredients in all 200 #CMWorld talks, says @EditorStahl Share on X

Successful content marketing thrives on authenticity and meaning. If you ensure that your content has those two ingredients, you can take your content marketing program to the next level. Game on!

Oh … wait.

Did you really want to know if Tina Fey was the same person behind the scenes as she was on stage? (How’s that for a curiosity gap?)

Will my answer make her comments less or more valuable to you? Will you dismiss her wonderful insight (“Writing is the worst … Everything up to Command-P is the worst.”) if you don’t like my answer?

Most likely, the truth will affect how you interpret Tina’s appearance. Same for Drew’s. Same for Joe’s.

But this article talks about the need to be authentic, so I’ll give you the truth.

Tina Fey is genuine, insightful, and lovely in every way. We chatted for about an hour before we stepped on stage. We talked about all sorts of things – regular things. Drew’s box really was a mystery. And Joe most definitely practices what he preaches.

Feeling inspired by these examples? There’s so much more. You can watch hundreds of presentations from Content Marketing World 2018. Sign up for CMWorld video on demand today.

 Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute