CMW 2017 Review

Cleveland, OH was awash in orange the first week of September again this past year.  But not due to a sporting event.  This past year marked another year of the ever-growing (and increasingly epic) Content Marketing World.
There was a lot of topics to learn about, but given the timeframe, you can only realistically attend about 10% of the presentations and workshops in person (hence I recommend to anyone going to get a post-show video access pass).
That said, there were three high-level takeaways I can share from the sessions I attended.

1. Sales Needs More Love

One of the workshops attended pointed out we often given sales are a hard time for being normal.  Specifically that people often engaged what he termed “Just in Time Learning.”  Meaning that we often learned about things as we need to learn them.    For example, few people read the instructions on using their car’s spare tire…until they need to actually use it.  That would be just in time learning.
Several speakers in the conference reminded me that we need to give sales more love.  Marketing and Sales often times have a love/hate relationship.  Sales can blame marketing for not making the stuff they need.  And Marketing can blame sales for not using what they make.  We should set aside our blame game and do our best as marketers to equip our sales teams with the best tools possible.  And that in part requires us to learn how humans functions.  WE can often place unrealistic expectations on sales.  When, instead, we should try to get to learn their mindset, which is a skill good marketers use to understand their market…we just need to apply that same approach to understanding our sales team.

2. Stop Chasing Tactics and Start Focusing on Your Audience

Related to understanding your market, there was one recurring theme across many sessions was the critical necessity to focus on your audience, not tactics.  Too often stressed-out marketing can chase tactics: “I need Facebook! Twitter! Pinterest! SnapChat!” The results are they burn themselves out without accomplishing anything.
To save your sanity and actually make an impact, focus on you building your audience.  Quality > Quantity but we don’t naturally do this.  Because it isn’t easy.  Picking an audience.  Learning about your audience. Getting inside their heads and speaking to their heart.  It is hard.
Anyone can shoot out a barrage of tweets, posts, and pictures.  It takes thought and insight to connect with your audience of customer and potential customers in a meaningful way.
But it is worth it.

3. Technology is Changing: Everything

While we certainly don’t need to chase technology, it doesn’t hurt to lead in it.  And this isn’t antithetical.  Being the first to adopt a new technological platform in a meaningful way can lead to a first mover success.  There are a slew of YouTube stars that rose to the top based on the combination of insight + first mover + luck.  Think of Lindsey Stirling, the costume wearing violinist.  She would likely not have succeeded had she appeared today.  But she had a unique insight that appealed to her audience, she jumped on the YouTube “bandwagon” early enough to matter, and then she got a healthy dose of lucky breaks. (Note: luck doesn’t mean any work, it simply acknowledges that action sometimes needs a dose of luck to make it.  Check out the books Antifragile  or Black Swan by x or Think Fast, Thinking Slow by y)
The two technologies that I believe will offer first-mover advantages to tech-savvy marketers are: Virtual/Augmented Reality and Internet of Things.
How? I’m not sure as I’m no prophet, and I’m not in the habit of BS people like certain unnamed “research firms.”  There are too many variables for solid predictions because the unfolding of these two respective technologies will shape what opportunities will become available.  That said, I have some thoughts:

VR/AR

In general, I think the opportunities that present themselves here will be more obvious, as VR/AR will develop new markets/marketplaces that marketers can take advantage of as they appear.  Just like ads and content marketing appeared when Internet video “marketplaces” appeared (primarily in the form of YouTube).  Likewise, there will be opportunities for markets to get in early on new advertisement platforms or create new content marketing approaches based on VR/AR technologies.

IoT

The Internet of Things is a completely different approach, primarily as the sheer scope of IoT makes any discussion of it difficult.  From Smart Agriculture to Smart Cities to Wearables, IoT is a buzz-word that encompasses a lot of things.  There is nothing inherent in the technology that will allow the development of new advertising platforms.  And how IoT and Content Marketing can connect is still unknown.  But IoT has already been used to create entirely new marketplaces, so smart marketers need to keep an eye on how the technology progresses. That said, I see the opportunity for one specific tie-in to content marketing.
From a purely content marketing perspective, IoT may offer many companies new sets of data that the marketing team can used to produce useful, unique pieces of content marketing.  For example, an auto manufacturer can embedded sensors in their vehicles to gather data on the performance of the vehicle.  The marketing team could leverage the data to provide a propriety report to their consumers.  So while IoT isn’t creating new channels, it is offering another source of data for current channels.
So those are my three big takeways from the 2017 Content Marketing World, and I’m looking forward to going back to Cleveland this year.  Hope to see you there!