Fresh of the airplane returning from Content Marketing World 2015, I was able to ponder my 3 days in Cleveland and come up with 5 important takeaways.
- Be authentic. This seemed to be a recurring theme this year. We heard it from Jay Baer in his keynote as he regaled us with tales of his mother’s brutal honesty. We heard it from John Cleese in his keynote as he was not afraid to tell us what he thought of Cleveland in no uncertain terms. We heard it from Nick Offerman as he told us how he rejected the Hollywood entertainment industry when they tried to cast him as the murderer/rapist role which was he felt was not his authentic acting role. We heard if from Doug Kessler in his B2B presentation titled “Insane Honesty” where he enlightened us marketers to embrace the true offering or meaning of our products. We heard if from the “man” himself, Joe Pulizzi, who encouraged all of us to be true to ourselves and be authentic in our marketing.
- Most of us will never be GE, Marriott, Coca Cola or Red Bull. If you got the chance to attend Katrina Craigwell’s presentation, you were no doubt amazed at the content GE and Katrina are creating. It is awesome! They show us how a jet engine is made and how it works. They film a new, state of the art, locomotive from a helicopter whistling through the sky over the high plains of the Midwest. They are even creating content with state of the art virtual reality technology. I think Katrina might have the best marketing job in all of the world. But, alas, most of us will never be hanging out of that helicopter or even be able to get near the factory floor where turbines or locomotives are being manufactured. We’ll never have multi-million dollar budgets or work with virtual reality content. And that’s ok. Referring to number 1 above, if we’re authentic and true to ourselves we can be happy even if we never get to be GE. But that doesn’t mean we can dream about hanging out of a helicopter. If I worked for GE, I would want to drive that train, not just film it.
- Marketers are smart. Every marketing conference I attend reinforces this idea. Marketers are some smart bastards. I mean that with all due respect and love to my profession. Talking to my colleagues at CMW, I am always amazed at their insight, cleverness, creativity and pure dedication to the profession of marketing. It always saddens me a little when the share their all to common stories about how the leadership at their company will never let them implement any new ideas. Most corporations would be amazed and dazed if they would only listen to their marketing team, especially after a conference like Content Marketing World. The vast majority of these smart marketers will return to their cubicles on Monday, file their great ideas away, and settle back down into their world of servitude to the sales or product teams. My message to all the really smart marketers out there is to keep going and make yourselves the absolute best marketer you could possible become. Bring up your creative and innovative ideas to your colleagues, peers and managers whenever you get a chance. Sure, you might get that blank stare or even a derogatory laugh from time to time, but persevere and your day will come. When they tell you ‘no’, find a way to do it anyways and learn from your trials. Treat your corporate marketing position as a live learning laboratory and experiment away you smart bastard.
- Write a book. This is more of a personal takeaway, but can be applied to anyone striving to establish themselves or their company as the ‘expert’ around a certain subject area. There is a lot of noise out there in the marketing and advertising space. One can become perceived as an expert by shouting loud and often. Shouting loud and often requires inordinate amount of resources (time and money) which most of us do not have. Writing a book seems to be a reasonable means towards achieving the perception. Why would one want to be perceived as an expert? This perception helps a consultant like myself, grow a practice or it can help a company increase their growth rate. If one were inclined towards professional speaking or being invited to conferences as a speaker, a book is your calling card. My takeaway is that I need to write a book. The challenge is time and money. Anyone out there want to sponsor my effort?
- Patience is a marketer’s virtue. As marketers, or maybe just as human beings, we love the new shiny object. This year’s CMW vendor floor was chock full of shiny new marketing technology. Wow, if I had a million dollars. (someone should write a song about that) Regardless of the technology, not much is really new or unique in the bigger picture as we might observe. As much as we want to play with all this new technology, patience is advised. You must have the time, inclination and budget for new technology. But even more important, we must have the marketing fundamentals in place first before any technology will pay off.
Finally, as I was walking out of the Cleveland Convention Center yesterday, I happened upon this guy dressed all in orange. His name is Joe Pulizzi and I asked his advice about growing my fledgling and sometimes struggling marketing consultancy for manufacturing companies. I said, “Joe, it’s not working. I can’t get any traction in growing my audience of subscribers. I’ve been blogging every week, sharing content, posting religiously on LinkedIn and fine tuning my SEO for my website and nobody is paying attention. I have 35 subscribers to my enewsletter and I’ve been stuck there for 3 months. Joe, I’m begging you, let me in on the secret.” Joe looked at me, sort of smiled and stifled a chuckle as he shook his head ever so slightly and said, ”Bruce, you’re doing all the right things. It took me 4 years to begin to get traction. Here’s my advice, refine your niche, ‘manufacturing companies’ to be more targeted, be authentic and be patient. Patience is the hardest one.” Thanks Joe! You’re awesome and I’ll see you next year.
Those are my takeaways from Content Marketing World 2015. I’d love to hear your takeaways, even if it’s just one thing. Stay patient, be authentic and keep on marketing.