I had the opportunity to visit Content Marketing World 2017 in Cleveland Ohio. A beautiful city next to Lake Erie. Home to Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m a basketball fan, lol. I stayed in walking distance of the conference at the Hyatt at the Arcade. Across the street was the public library where they had an exhibit of Superman, home of the greatest superhero of all time. Yes, a comic fan too!

The goal for this trip was to get a sense of where the industry was going with content marketing. How is B2B content marketing in relation to all this, what are best practices and what should we be doing with content marketing? This was an great opportunity to get in the room with different leaders in the industry and see how they are making moves and in turn, learning from them.

Content marketing is here and is a business model that should not be overlooked. Since 2011, on Google Trend, the word “content marketing” has spiked and continues to rise. According to Joe Pulizi of CMW, 90% of companies that are focused on Content Marketing and are successful are audience building. That’s 30% higher than last year and it is the most important thing for marketers today.

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Here are my takeaways and some of my key notes that I took:

My top 4 takeaways

  1. B2B vs B2C

This is an area that has several opinions depending on who you talk to. In my opinion, at the end of the day, we are all individuals, whether personal or professional, that has a need or problem that requires solving. If I can answer that need and give you value, in turn, that value can be shared to family, friends, or colleagues to then build trust in myself or brand. This is where content starts and then is distributed where the customer journey begins.

At work, everyone is busy with their to-do list so how do you earn their attention? If the content is relevant, the time will be spent on your content, period.

At home, everyone is busy with family or errands so how do you earn their attention? If the content is relevant, the time will be spent on your content, period.

Here are a few notes that I have gathered from my sessions:

B2B – Business to Business

  • Initial search is discovery to the website/ industry expert (blog) and vendors and use reference/content for comparing and consulting (different from B2C)
  • Most common way to start researching – is the company social media accounts, then business pages and review sites, customer reference and company website/ content
  • Most effective for evaluation – personal relationships with vendor employees, 3rd party references and then case studies
    • Talk about customer journey to earn trust and attention of potential buyers
  • Least favorite content in early stages are White Papers and potential content are brochures and webinars
  • Companies are made of people = Develop “Pathological Empathy” with personas and content based on the type of decision maker
  • Content needs to be engaging but informing readers of their next steps.
  • Buyers pick people they trust – they lose on price
  • Employees are your most valuable touch point and trusted more than a brand
  • On LinkedIn, employees have 10x more reach than a company’s connection
    • Promote them as individuals and don’t be afraid of them leaving – it will keep them longer

B2C – Business to Consumer

  • Customer journey starts at social with discover (different from B2B)
  • Online reviews are factors for decisions
  • Word of mouth from peers and employees is a driving key
    • We can allow guest to dictate our brand or create content to shape the story they tell
  1. Content/ Media

Websites are less important than ever and you must become an everywhere brand on where the attention is… We must start to think like a TV network and create constant shows. Building a show gives the ability to create less content overall as well as makes it easy to test and optimize information to different platforms. Repurpose! If it’s video, podcast or written, each company should be doing this at least once a week if not once a month.

  • SEO and content marketing are coming together.
  • According to Jay Baer – 76% more B2C/B2B businesses will create content
  • Content needs to be engaging, drives action and is customized
  • Relevancy is a value exchange
  • Content with features and benefits are just “brochures”
  • Know the data for good insights to create great content
  • Talk and use phrases and words that your audience uses
  • Fix the messenger, we trust people more than the logo
  • When you search “gluten free pizza” a few things will be populated, “What is, Near me, How do you make, and specific menu with”
  • Learn from the Disney Marketing Approach – Familiarity to a loyal audience i.e. Star Wars, Marvel, Mary Poppins etc. Reuse will known brands.
  • Documentaries are exploding
  1. Audience/ Personas

Businesses need one thing – an audience – a loyal and trusting one. We are starting to see different companies like Buzzfeed, Tasty, Amazon and Apple using different mediums to create audiences. We wouldn’t be surprised if Starbucks create a “Breaking News” app for building creating a loyal audience.

  • Change persona profiles to buyer expectations and needs
  • Answer their pain points
  • Build a strategy around buyer mindsets on the context of the decisions you want to influence
  • Audience is the new product and future… Marketers make markets
  1. Email List building

Even though email marketing open rates are at a low, list building is still the best way to own your audience outside of social media platforms.

  • Businesses are built on email list
  • 90% of marketers in 2017 have decided to build email list
  • Lead magnets like PDFs and “The Ultimate Guide to…”

In conclusion, this was a great show for anyone whether in marketing, in an agency or in-house team. The industry of content marketing is heading in a strong direction but will get over crowded with content. Tons of content! What will be your breakout content? How will you compare with the rest? How will you find your audience and get their attention? What value will you bring? In what entertainment will you build loyalty? These are exciting times… and the time and resource to build the right content will be it all…

See you at the next show! I will be attending Adobe Max. If you are heading out there and want to connect please reach out! If not, stay tuned and get my notes.

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Published by Orlando Ayala

Orlando Ayala is a Los Angeles-based Creative Director, Graphic Designer, Digital Marketer and Experience Strategist. Currently Orlando is the Creative Director with Pacific Park on the World Famous Santa Monica Pier leading the creative and strategic teams working in visual, traditional and digital mediums.