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Five Content Marketing World 2018 Takeaways

Creating a narrative that stands out is one thing. Build familiarity, you hit the jackpot.

Coming back from this year’s Content Marketing World, in the US, gives a chance to reflect, piece things together and look at an overall theme that connects the work you do with the people in front of you.

I highlighted the main themes from 2017 on finding an addressable audience and 2016 on being seen as a source that can provide a solution.

Let me start off by saying that the main thing I took is that nothing has changed or groundbreaking to reveal within content marketing. However, the principals now sit within the context of the world that we all part of today. With trust at it’s lowest point (you can read more about that here), it provides resonance for businesses to stand for something that holds the truth. With validation, comes trust.

If I had to surmise the 2018 event, quickly, so if you don’t want to read any more you can get it now, it was about how your business: creates meaning, builds familiarity, is believable, becomes dependable.


Let’s Go In A Bit Deeper

Where we all stand today there is an epidemic of purposeless out there. People and businesses are filling spaces with no meaning and no message. There is pressure on us all because of mobile and connectivity that we have to create at a relentless pace or throw money at a wall in the hope for reach and not resonance.

This is how we have all behaved since we set foot in the commercial world, to tell others why we are better than anyone else.

Technology has provided us a means to distribute a message and use any space available to us as a means to promote our businesses and not learn how to be a part of a culture where our message sits.

So, where does this leave you? You have two choices.

You can chase the status quo and sound the same as everyone else with the videos that show staff holding phones and the false looking shaking hands, you can even produce the articles that sound the same as everyone else (what time to post on social media, how to choose an agency). Alternatively, you can be part of the change and create a message that is yours and you have the ability to build the right people around it.

Ann Handley, sums this approach up brilliantly in her recent Sunday email (9th September), “Fill your room with the events, the colleagues, the community you need to help inspire your best work.”


How I Figured It Out

From Content Marketing World 2018, this is what I did:

– Attended a host of sessions

– Made pages of notes

– Found the themes that connect and mentioned more than once whilst I had four hours to spare at JFK airport

– Edited down the pages of notes into a side of A4

– Take that page of A4 and break down into a final 2018 main themes that you are reading here


Are You Ready?

Let’s share with you the key themes from the state of play of how you market your business to build a loyal audience in 2018 with a content-driven approach.


Don’t just approach as creating content, but frame as a marketing apparatus.

The easy part is creating and pressing the publish button. Let’s not hide away from the fact that this can also become a central part for conversation, lead generation and sales.

It is better to sell via association rather than coercion. The more personal your message and what your business believes in where someone else is in the centre, the greater the opportunity for familiarity. The more universal your creation reaches at a human level, the better positioned you become.

This sounds miles better than going hard with the sales hyperbole to get someone to buy to save 20% before 4pm on a Friday. No marketing initiative will win if it does not have a narrative that people enjoy.

By using content as a marketing apparatus it works like this. You share a narrative that people connect with, where they feel obliged for some form of transaction (sharing their email address). If you can share on a consistent basis, people feel like they are having a regular test drive from you. When it is time to move forward and commit, they will already have their minds made up. For instance, as You Are The Media Conference 2019 builds, the You Are The Media Podcast becomes a channel to nudge the audience towards the annual event. What you create can become a lead magnet when used effectively.


The narrative you create, helps others realise you care (and understand them).

No one apart from you cares about case studies from your customers, testimonials about the project you just completed or the piece of work you won, that becomes a LinkedIn article on ‘do your best work.’

When the narrative is centred on you, all you are doing is holding up the mirror to yourself rather than looking out onto the world and where you sit within it.

When the message puts you in centre stage, there is no vision and no tension. By tension, I mean a fork in the road moment where something could have gone very wrong. You can create meaning to helps others understand the responsibility you have and how they have a valid role to play in their marketplace. It just so happens that you are tuned in to make sense of the marketplace that you operate within. Help others find their space and contribute. It all has to mean something, rather than showing people that you spent over £10k on a video that has a graphic of an arrow moving to the top right side of the screen to depict some form of success over the past few years.


Live in a place where people want you to be.

It is pointless to look to game the system by playing with the algorithm. People can see through this when you have nothing to contribute where the only objective is reach. If you are picking up the momentum with your content creation efforts, to save confusion and time/budget wasted find the channels where people are the most receptive and then focus on them. For instance, by writing each week, this has enabled me to build an audience where I have ownership. I set a date with the You Are The Media community, each Thursday morning. Over time, people know what and when they will expect.


Create familiarity with simplicity.

When you find a voice, you can contribute within your marketplace. If you do it in a way that creates familiarity and makes it easy for people to associate but deliver what others are not doing, then you create a niche where you are in charge. You can become the premium option that people seek out.

It is the strength, brevity and appeal that mitigates the risk for others to hire you or buy from you. Familiarity in simplicity is about others recognising the ultimate aim ie. loyalty, inspiration, connection, leadership, not in using industry jargon that makes you sound self-important. By bringing everything back to having meaning, indicates that you become dependable. The consistent narrative that you share becomes something that people look forward to and spread ‘the word.’


Be a source to tell the truth, well.

This is the opportunity we find ourselves today. We can build a voice that is meaningful and accurate with the intention to seek the truth to share on a consistent basis. Those companies that are making change are documenting a belief, not an agenda. This is how relationships are formed and developed.

The size of a company is not important anymore. It is the behaviour from within a business with a role to provide value to others. It is the things that the competition do not necessarily pick up on. You can create content and over time, monetise from it. The secret is to be the media and build over time. There is nothing stopping you anymore. The ability to create content then gives you the ability to connect.

Let’s Round Up

In the words of Joe Lazauskas from Contently, in an article he published on 10th September, “Give someone a tip or trick, and their content may improve for a week. Teach someone to think creatively and fearlessly about the content they create, and they’ll keep improving for the rest of their lives.”

By having a broad appeal that helps people connect within a niche, you do it by becoming familiar. You would rather have an open conversation with someone you trust and have a connection with, rather than a complete stranger who wants to know more.

People need to feel reassured that what they are committing to is worthwhile and you are all part of a collective search for meaning.

This year’s Content Marketing World highlighted a sign of the times. Applying a marketing approach that has relevance to the world today. That can be healthy for everyone.

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