Whitney Stephens

Senior Manager, Marketing Communications

Highlights from Content Marketing World 2015

Last week, more than 3,500 marketers from nearly 50 countries descended upon the Content Marketing Capital of the World (a.k.a. Cleveland, Ohio) for the Content Marketing Institute’s annual conference, Content Marketing World.

Among a myriad of keynotes and breakout sessions, a few themes were apparent throughout the entire event: the role of the content marketer is continuing to evolve, more content is being created than ever before (just check out this infographic), and in order to cut through the noise, it’s vital that we work smarter and be bolder. How do we achieve this? Several speakers shared their perspectives, insights, and experiences on content and creativity.

In no particular order, here are my top five takeaways from the week:

Great content is about people, passion ...and your mother.

In his keynote, Jay Baer, president of Convince and Convert, summed up what separates the great content from the good content in two words: people and passion. He also introduced us to the “Mom Test.” As he described it, your mom loves you unconditionally, is brutally honest, and can sense when you’re passionate about something. Will your mom like the content you’re sharing? If not, no one else will either. (Hi, Mom.)


Content marketers need to be bigger, bolder, and braver in 2016.

Ann Handley, chief content officer at MarketingProfs and author of Everybody Writes (a fantastic book that I recommend keeping right next to your style guides), challenged marketers to stop playing it safe. She encouraged us to tell bigger stories, be braver with our marketing, and develop bolder brand voices. Consider this: If you covered up your logo, would people still recognize your content?


There is power in saying “no.”

According to Kristina Halvorson, CEO of Brain Traffic, content marketers have confused activity with productivity. Rather than judge ourselves on quantity, it is important to be selective and commit to making great choices about where we focus our efforts. There is power in saying no and in asking why. She reminded the audience that we are not the center of our customers’ universe. We need to determine what is and create informed content goals that consist of two things: business outcomes and customer satisfaction.


Be unique and visual in your storytelling.

One of my favorite breakout sessions was on the power of visual communication. Buddy Scalera, senior director of content strategy at The Medicines Company, shared that sixty percent of the sensory in our brain is devoted to visual processes. While our visual system is good at processing meaning, it is also skilled at learning to ignore things that are consistently irrelevant. The challenge (and opportunity) is in creating visual communication that is relevant to your customers based on their needs, preferences, and context.

There are times to be hare-brained and times to be tortoise-minded.

John Cleese took the main stage for an insightful – and of course humorous – lecture on creativity. The Oscar-nominated actor shared studies on what sets the most creative people apart from their less-creative counterparts: the inclination to play and the tendency to mull over decisions. He emphasized the importance of not just thinking in a logical “hare-brained” manner, but also taking time to be more contemplative and “tortoise-minded.” By allowing your mind to wander and your unconscious to take over, you can unleash a new level of creative problem solving. Here’s a full recap of his talk via the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

At Rise, we take a calcuated, customer-obsessed and data-driven approach to content marketing. By asking the right questions and focusing on customer behavior, we help brands develop the most relevant strategies to create the right interactions at every touchpoint. Interested in learning more about creating content that stands out from the competition? Send us a note, we’d love to talk.

09/14/2015 at 12:00

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