Even though we’re a few weeks into 2019, some of my top to-dos for the coming year were inspired by an event that took place in 2018; Orbit Media’s Content Jam conference. After attending the fourth annual gathering this past fall in Chicago of more than 300 marketers, writers and generally fun/smart people, I came away with a renewed passion for content marketing and the power it offers companies. In addition, my marketing-nerd excitement level went off the charts, and I’ve been eager to share some of these ideas with my team and clients.
This was my first experience at Content Jam, and overall, the conference was highly valuable. A huge thanks to Andy Crestodina, co-founder of Orbit Media and presenter extraordinaire, who put together this event. It provided an in-depth look into content’s value, and increasingly important role, in the marketing mix. Plus, I really enjoyed the analytical and practical applications of the strategies that were discussed; I walked away with stuff I could actually use.
I attended a keynote session from Ann Handley of MarketingProfs, a second keynote on case studies’ role in the B2B buying process, and then two breakout sessions: one on harnessing DIY video and one on influencer marketing. We wrapped the day with two final presentations; one on email marketing copywriting and another on how the top B2B content marketers do it right. Here are my top three content marketing takeaways that I’ll be weaving into my to-do list in the coming months.
Be a Storyteller First. Be a Marketer Second.
I’m a big fan of Ann Handley, the Head of Content at MarketingProfs, who has a following of nearly 440,000 on Twitter (yes, that’s 440 thousand). I was thrilled that she kicked off Content Jam as the keynote speaker and when she talks, I listen. Intently. Why? Because her energy is contagious, and her insights are the kind you try to write down as fast as you can so you don’t miss anything.
In her presentation, Ann used the story of Charlotte’s Web as an allegory for content marketing. She explained that Charlotte the web-spinning savior spider, was actually the world’s best content marketer, Wilbur the pig was her brand, her audience was Zuckerman, and the original influencer was Fern. It was a genius way to illustrate what I found to be the biggest takeaway of her session; “Be a storyteller first. Be a marketer second.” She used E.B. White’s famous book as an example of just that, and encouraged everyone to tell “bolder stories to change the narrative.” Whether you’re a writer or not, I think we can all be inspired to think about the story we’re telling with our brand content, and how it can help solve our customers’ pain points—whatever they may be.
Video Marketing is for Everyone
Video marketing consultant and Sparkworth founder Sarah Jo Crawford led a highly informative session on video marketing, that had me ready to get out my phone and film a video for my LinkedIn profile as I walked out the door. Sarah convincingly and clearly explained that you don’t have to be a Hollywood producer, or even a smartphone camera expert, to make engaging, valuable and high-performing videos as part of your content marketing efforts.
Before this session, I usually shied away from encouraging clients to video themselves. I believed that if you’re going to do a video, it had to be high-quality, shot by a production team, and expertly edited. While those more sophisticated videos are certainly worthwhile and should still be considered as part of your video marketing strategy, Sarah’s presentation taught me that that’s not the only way to do it. She stressed that we all have the power to make great, business-driving videos for our websites, social profiles and more, thanks to the handy smartphones we carry with us each and every day. There are so many possibilities with informal video that if you haven’t started embracing it yet, it’s time to jump on it (or in front of the camera!).
Only 15 Percent of B2B Companies Have an Ongoing Influencer Marketing Program
Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media led a session on influencer marketing that dropped so much knowledge, I bookmarked his presentation on my Google Chrome browser for easy reference. Andy not only shared actionable ideas and practical ways to implement influencer marketing at your own company or with your own clients, but he provided the proof points to back it all up. The one that stuck with me the most? That only 15 percent of B2B companies have an ongoing influencer marketing program, indicating there’s so much opportunity to get in on it now, before it becomes more widely adopted. You can be an early adopter of the strategy, reaping the benefits before your competitors.
If you’re new to influencer marketing, or curious what it is exactly, Orbit Media has some great resources on their blog, including this post, “The Ultimate Guide to Working With Influencers,” or you can feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I encourage you to get familiar with influencer marketing strategy and its applications; I guarantee this isn’t the last time you’ll hear about it this year.
Between personal goals (I can exercise three times a week, right?) and a refreshed outlook to work, the start of the new year is always bursting with opportunity. This year, I look forward to more content marketing, reaping its surefire rewards and all the new directions it will take us.