Creative thinking that delivers results

11 Sep

8 things I learned at CONEX 2018 – Content Marketing Conference

Category: Content marketing
Written by: Ian Turner
content marketing, digital marketing, content, CONEX, marketing, conference

CONEX 2018 was a whirlwind of learning, networking and all things marketing and content. Launched in 2016 by content marketing tech company Uberflip, it has evolved into a well-respected marketing conference in no time. I was finally able to attend this year’s conference and the 2+ days of learning and fun provided a fresh perspective on why content is so important in marketing, and why we as marketers need to think differently – aka the Content Experience – when it comes to content marketing.

With this in mind, I thought I would distill for you, in no particular order, some of the more salient points I learned at this conference.

1)    Ethics Online

Unmarketing’s Scott Stratten message was succinct – ethics is not a renewable resource. Trust is critical online, as is being accountable to your audience. Transparency and honesty are also important, which is why trying to pass off your influencers’ comments as anything but an ad is misleading and wrong!

2)    Marketing’s Holy Grail

It may be obvious to some but Tamsen Webster emphasized one point that we as marketers often forget as we develop strategies, campaigns and content. “Look at your stuff (i.e. content) through the lens of your customers (and what they want.” How often do we do this?

3)    Lead Generation

So what came first, lead gen or content? A silly question, but the point here is that for many marketers, these two terms are synonymous with digital marketing. Infamous pool-guy Marcus Sheridan expanded   on this concept: “Content enables you to be part of the conversation by bringing customers to you. It also helps you to build trust with your buyers.” Customers ask you questions, you answer them. Enough said!

4)    Customer Retention

One of my pet peeves with marketing today is we spend so much of our time and budget on lead gen and finding new customers at the expense of trying to retain our existing ones. Joey Coleman emphasized this point when he spoke about the impact buyer’s remorse has in the buyer’s journey. One stat he mentioned brought this to life – a 5% increase in customer retention will increase profits by 25-100%!

5)    “Customer-obsessed Marketers”

Forrester researcher Laura Ramos introduced this term to us and spoke about how marketers need to “engage for the lifetime of our customers”. She noted that this approach requires a new mindset on our parts, one that has empathy for our customers at its core. She spoke about how this mindset evokes trust and ultimately leads to customer loyalty and lifetime value for both parties.

6)    The Art of Storytelling

Former Pixar chief storyteller Matthew Luhn touched on several key content marketing axioms in his talk. He reminded us that stories are meaningful when they are 1) Memorable 2) Impactful and 3) Personal. He also outlined the importance of connecting with your audience with the right message, and reminded us of the value of authenticity (i.e. of being real, vulnerable and honest versus clever) in touching and moving your customers.

7)    YouTube: Video Content Champion

Video expert Amy Landino made one simple statement that both shocked and quickly grabbed the attention of many marketers in the room. She pointed to the following slide in making her point:

video marketing, YouTube, video

Video marketers ignore YouTube at their own peril! Given the ‘flighty’ nature of social media platforms, marketers need to remind themselves of these metrics when planning their video marketing campaigns.

8)    The Curiosity Factor

Highly regarded keynote speaker Drew Davis put forward a very clear yet impactful message in his presentation. “Our audience will make time to consume content as long as it keeps their interest.” He spoke of the ‘Curiosity Gap’ – the gap between what we know and what we want to know and outlined how brands need to create tension with their stories by ‘delaying the reveal’ and grabbing (and thus earning) the attention of our audience.

There you have it, eight powerful messages on the topic of content marketing that marketers should use to refine their crafts by better engaging their audiences and building trust along the way with impactful stories. Seems simple enough, though as we all know so well in this era of the customer, this playing field will continue to shift and marketers will need to be prepared to react and adjust accordingly.