From September 4-7, 2018, IMI’s Director of SEO, Joe Arduini, attended Content Marketing World 2018.
The beginning of September in Las Vegas arrives each year with a bevy of gifts in tow. Labor Day weekend, the promise of cooler temperatures, the end of the Vegas pool party season, and preparing for Content Marketing World in Cleveland!
Side note: As a Pittsburgh-native, it amuses me that I am able to genuinely write “Cleveland” followed by an exclamation point without a hint of sarcasm.
Though this was only my second time attending Content Marketing World, it has quickly become my favorite marketing conference. In addition to feeling at home at a conference with a shared vision for SEO and content marketing success, there is something truly special about the connection of the host city to the event. I couldn’t imagine it being held anywhere else while still retaining its charm.
This year’s theme was “Game On,” and upon arriving at the main stage, attendees were immediately met with visuals that reinforced the theme. Immersed in a setting of retro-gaming nostalgia from my youth, I was hopeful for an inspired event filled with takeaways to relay to my team and utilize on our creative strategies.
This is a summary of what I learned at Content Marketing World 2018 and the sessions I attended.
Content Strategy and SEO for B2B Lead Generation
Presenter: Andy Crestodina
This was my third time attending a conference presentation lead by Andy Crestodina, Co-founder and Strategic Director of Orbit Media Studios. If you have a chance to attend one of his sessions in person, I highly suggest you take advantage. His presentations are well-organized, full of valuable content, and leave attendees with actionable takeaways.
Publish Your Content Mission Statement on Your Blog
Make it clear from the start what your company aims to achieve through their content strategy, and answer the question, “Why am I here?” immediately for your audience.
Leverage Original Research
Think about what other businesses are searching for on a daily the basis. More than likely it’s the same data you are searching for to support your strategies; so do the extra work and utilize original research to give them that data.
An example Crestodina provided was a yearly article polling 1,000 bloggers for insights into trends regarding their processes and workflows. Being “the source” of this industry data has led to this being one of the top landing pages on the Orbit Media site.
Ad-ception – Promote Your Content Promotions with Video
A few influencers I follow on LinkedIn, including Wil Reynolds and Crestodina, leverage this tactic, but I’ve admittedly never taken take full advantage of the opportunity myself. The concept is to promote your blog content through social media. Then, promote the social media posts using quick summaries in video format, a type of “ad-ception,” as Andy called it.
Excellence at Scale: How Marriott Built a Content Center of Excellence with International Impact
Presenters: John Fernandez and Marc Graser
My first takeaway/source of inspiration from this session wasn’t related directly to SEO or content marketing tactics, but rather an opening admission from co-presenter, Marc Graser, Senior Director, Marriott Creative & Content Marketing.
“I’m a little nervous, to be honest”
Some of the best presenters/public speakers I’ve had the pleasure of watching were at Content Marketing World. The way they tell their intricate stories so passionately, and seemingly effortlessly, in front of large audiences is awe-inspiring.
As someone actively working on my public speaking, and a long-time stagefright sufferer, hearing a senior director for an International Resort Brand admit to having nerves on stage was refreshing and motivational.
“If it feels like marketing, we’re not gonna run it”
A large part of Marriott’s success over the past few years has been in relation to their directional shift towards more travel and lifestyle-inspired webzine content. By taking a messaging that was previously steeped in ad-heavy, promotional language and moving towards a more resourceful and natural hub for their audience, Marriott has become an industry standout.
Having an office in Las Vegas, IMI has worked with a number of resorts and always led with this approach, admittedly to varying degrees of acceptance. Hearing such a strong endorsement from the brand side was valuable.
If anything, this session helped to reinforce my focus and belief in our long-standing direction at IMI as SEOs and content marketers.
The Top 7 Writing Secrets of Hit-Making Songwriters
Presenter: Ahava Leibtag
As a songwriter/music production hobbyist, this was the first presentation that I added to my schedule and the one I was most excited for leading up to the event, as evidenced by my tweet to the session’s presenter, Ahava Leibtag, the morning of.
Leibtag’s presentation lived up to the anticipation. She took to the stage in true rockstar fashion, led in by Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer,” while rallying the audience to sing along during her entrance.
In keeping with the theme, every one of Leibtag’s seven bullets was inspired by a hit song. The ensuing insights derived from each topic were anchored in a method used by the hit-makers and translated to a content marketing audience beautifully.
Drawing inspiration from Vanessa Williams, Leibtag did indeed “save the best for last” with this takeaway and series of slides; referencing a quote taken from an interview with Lady Gaga.
“You have to honor your vomit”
This quote dramatically frames a longstanding belief that I’ve had that if you just start and allow yourself the freedom to be creative, wherever that leads, then the outcome will always be better than waiting for the “perfect circumstances.”
Or, in the infamous words of Wayne Campbell, “I mean, Led Zeppelin didn’t write tunes that everyone liked. They left that to the Bee Gees.”
As my career moves more quickly, and my own personal goals have gotten loftier, I’ve actually fallen victim to overthinking my own creative expression – holding myself and my work to a false standard due to prematurely envisioning the intended outcome.
Funny how hearing some else’s inventive take on your own personal beliefs can help you identify an internal opportunity and re-establish yourself.
Closing Keynote with Tina Fey
Speaker: Tina Fey, Interviewer: Stephanie Stahl
Tina Fey was the subject of a good portion of my conversations leading up to Content Marketing World. It was clear she was a main draw of the event as well. Many attendees had opted to skip the scheduled sessions prior to her keynote in favor of lining up for a good seat in the main hall.
Content Marketing Institute General Manager, Stephanie Stahl, expertly hosted an insightful and satisfyingly witty interview that gave attendees an inside look into the world of Fey along with her inspiring story as a writer, producer, improv comic, and actress.
I don’t know that I had any single takeaway so much as a reaffirmation of Fey as a person, creator, and leader of equal rights for women. She came off every bit as genuine as one would imagine.
Overall Event Recap and Experience
Content Marketing World kicked off with founder Joe Pulizzi’s ceremonious “return” to the Content Marketing Institute. During his opening keynote, he highlighted the reasons for his nine-month hiatus this year.
Statements such as, “I spent more time with my kids in the past nine months than possibly the whole last nine years combined” and “My father and I went to Sicily and met cousins we didn’t even know existed” helped to frame not only Pulizzi’s keynote but also the event as a whole.
As storytellers, we’re only as effective as our experiences. And as members of an agency, brand, or self-employed/contract-based workforce, it is easy to get caught up in the fast-paced environment that comes with pursuing our careers. Personal well-being is vital, and the value of making time to take care of oneself cannot be overlooked.
In closing, Content Marketing World 2018 was less about revolutionary breakthroughs and more about scheduled maintenance to reinforce foundational elements, both personal and professional. I for one, highly valued and was probably overdue for the tune-up.