It’s been an invigorating week for all things content and marketing.
We gathered with thousands at CMI’s annual Content Marketing World in Washington, D.C. The conversations from the podiums brought some incredibly fresh insights into the beloved practice.
CMI’s chief strategy advisor, Robert Rose, kicked off the event by putting a lens on where practitioners stand in 2023, given the disruptions of AI, the up-and-down economic signals, and the state of marketing innovation.
Watch Robert highlight the takeaways from CMWorld below, or keep reading for the overview:
Robert shared at CMWorld something he’s recently talked about here. “Content marketing is what marketing is becoming. It is no longer a weird experiment in some back room with a tiger team,” he says.
Now, content marketing creates a full-scale media operation inside marketing. But for that to happen, businesses must recognize the changing roles and responsibilities traditional marketers now must perform. Content marketing isn’t their side job or “when-you-have-time” activity. Content is a core piece of the business strategy.#ContentMarketing is what marketing is becoming. It is no longer a weird experiment in some back room with a tiger team, @Robert_Rose said at #CMWorld via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
And with that, let’s turn to five highlights from the CMWorld stages:
1. Grow your thinking
Bennie Johnson, CEO of the American Marketing Association, emphasized Robert’s point. He reminded marketers not to get so focused on day-to-day activities that they forget to evolve their thinking and vision. Your ability to stay agile and continuously develop your skillset is your most important role as a marketer.Don’t get so focused on day-to-day activities that you forget to evolve your thinking and vision, says Bennie Johnson of @AMAMadison via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
2. Bring together fun and fundamentals
Two speaker MVPs of Content Marketing World – Ann Handley and Andrew Davis – brought the fun to the fundamentals. Their first-ever joint appearance gave the straight dope of what content marketing in 2023 is all about. They answered questions in a Jeopardy-style town hall that showed off their expertise and awesomeness.
3. Address the how and why before you document or buy
Robert’s business partner, Cathy McKnight, hosted one of the in-depth, hands-on workshops. Her technology master class helped attendees learn how to sanely put together the needs they may have for the technology they don’t have.
In a nearby room, Michael Brenner did a deep-dive workshop on one of the most important aspects of evolving your content marketing strategy – documenting what you’re doing. Every year, CMI research shows the biggest gap between those who are successful with content marketing and those who aren’t successful occurs between those who have a written strategy and those who don’t.
But, as Michael pointed out, a documented strategy is not about putting the words into a Word doc or Microsoft PowerPoint deck. The strategy must bring the roles and responsibilities of content marketing to job descriptions, responsibilities, standards, guidelines, and playbooks. It must document your evolution.
4. Recognize AI’s impact isn’t diminishing
Of course, AI was front and center this year. Cathy McPhillips from the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute talked about how AI impacted her as a content marketer. Meghan Keaney Anderson from Jasper and Jessica Hreha from VMWare shared how moving AI into the marketing team structure can work in a pragmatic session about generative AI.
5. Bear witness to creativity
We couldn’t end these highlights without noting the amazing Elizabeth Banks – the actor, producer, and director whose recent comedy thriller Cocaine Bear is a wonderful way to spend 95 minutes. She talked through her career and her thoughts on the current state of the content industry, providing some surprisingly meaningful and evolved practical takeaways.
What is content marketing all about?
As for Robert’s takeaway? CMWorld lived up to this year’s theme – evolve. “It’s such a perfect metaphor for the practice of content marketing today,” he said.
You can relish the last 10 years of content marketing as a side practice – an innovative, sometimes weird approach to marketing that many executives didn’t quite understand. But you also can appreciate that it’s different today.
Content marketing isn’t about helping a marketing campaign become slightly more engaging, authentic, or valuable. Content marketing is a strategic business operation, Robert says, and that means operating as a media company with related activities, operations, measurement, and skills.
Put simply, content marketing has evolved.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute