Content Marketing World 2018: Recap and Key Takeaways

Last week, Pace headed to Cleveland, Ohio, for a few jam-packed days of learning and networking at Content Marketing World 2018. Here’s a quick recap of the sessions we attended.

Audiences need closure.

Wednesday’s opening keynote speaker explained that even though people’s attention spans are only about 8 seconds, our audience is capable of paying attention as long as we grab and hold their attention. To illustrate that we’ll watch longer content due to our need for closure, he used the example of a Facebook Live video of 40-plus minutes that featured a team putting one rubber band after another around a watermelon until it exploded. Because of this, it’s our responsibility as marketers to tease and keep our audience interested until the end.

Great stories make us want to buy.

Joe Lazauskas from Contently preached that great storytelling is the ultimate edge for marketers and takes advantage of the hardwiring in the human brain. The neural activity in our brains increases fivefold when we hear a story that we identify with, and the technology to measure neurological responses to stories and content is progressing very quickly. We observed a live demonstration of four subjects wearing simple measurement devices on their arms and saw the spikes in neural activity at key moments in a video that told a story about a father and daughter relationship.

Create experiences, not content.

While this seems so basic, a session lead by Matthew Wellschlager from Ceros reminded us that we should not use the number of pieces we produce as a primary metric.  Because 67% of a consumer’s journey happens digitally, we need to captivate consumers and accelerate the path to conversion. When you look specifically at the B2B space, brand values with emotion and experiences help push audience decisions when competitors have comparable products and services. So much rides on big B2B decisions; therefore, brand attributes like trustworthiness, reliability and confidence are a must.

Think like a recording artist.

One of our favorite sessions, led by Ahava Leibtag from Aha Media Group, discussed writing secrets of hit-making songwriters. The session provided thoughts from Lady Gaga on the creative process: that it usually consists of approximately 15 minutes of vomiting a giant regurgitation of thoughts and feelings. Lady Gaga said that you have to honor your thought vomit. Take the 15 minutes to get it all out there and then reel it back in. As a creative, you need your content to be real and believable and you need to have (and pull from) the heart to make connections with your audience.

AI is creating the need for microcontent.

Jeffrey K. Rohrs, chief marketing officer at Yext, explained that microcontent is all the raw data that feeds the AI engines we interact with every day, such as Amazon product specs, Google Maps locations details or the answers that Siri and Alexa retrieve. These are all platforms you can’t control or manipulate, but you can prepare your content and data for these scenarios if your marketing team is managing them. Customers of all kinds are depending on these services—and the microcontent that feeds them—more and more every day.

Tomorrow’s marketing leads will need to think like showrunners.

Skyword’s Tom Gerace made us think ahead to the roles we’ll all be playing. He believes that in the future, CMOs for big brands will have to think like showrunners in Hollywood. When the TV show “The Love Boat” went on the air in 1977, the cruise industry was unknown to most Americans. In 1970, about 500,000 people went on cruises. In 2013, that number was more than 20 million. That’s what the model might look like in the future when marketers compete head-to-head with entertainment for attention and can drive huge audiences for brands and exponential ROI.

Use AI data to boost content marketing impact.

Chris Penn from BrianTrust Insights is confident that AI will change our jobs in marketing. But in the near future, you’re much more likely to be working alongside AI and applying your own human intelligence toward figuring out what problems need to be solved together with AI’s amazing ability to look through data and find hidden insights. You can think of AI as having three categories: algorithms, machine learning and deep learning leading to general-purpose AI. Algorithms and machine learning are already here, and they can be incredible tools for solving marketing challenges when you know you have good data and you know what insights you want to get from it.

As a marketer, think about having people on your team who understand the basics of AI and machine learning to leverage the technology that is out there today. Google will even help your in-house coders learn the ropes. In the future, careers are likely to be split up between those who manage the machines and those who have roles that are managed by the machines.

Brand Attachment: The realm beyond loyalty, and how to get there

Gordon Locke, executive vice president, Client Solutions Group, and I led a session on brand attachment. The main takeaways from our session were:

  1. Emotions are a critical way to attach audiences to your brand because consumers feel first and think second.
  2. Be part of your customers’ world. Find out what their passions, connections and affections are and build your brand around them to create lasting bonds.

For more information on the topic of brand attachment, check out our white paper: https://www.paceco.com/whitepapers/brand-attachment/.

The conference ended with a very special keynote speaker: the one and only Tina Fey. Tina discussed everything from content creation and her experience in comedy to corporate social responsibility.

For more information on Content Marketing World, check out: https://www.contentmarketingworld.com.

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