Monday, September 21, 2015

Key Takeaways from Content Marketing World 2015 #CMWorld

The week of September 8 to 11, I attended one of the best conference I have ever attended: Content Marketing World (#CMWorld) 2015. I have been to myriad tech conferences in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. I have been to niche learning and development symposiums. I have been to the Consumer Electronics Show, and I have been to Dreamforce four times. I have also attended numerous marathon expos and skiing conventions (yes, these count).

OK. I have not been to SXSW or Burning Man, so maybe I don’t know what a good conference is, but #CMWorld makes my top 3.

As a means of processing, reviewing, and reinforcing what I learned and sharing it, I thought I would write about my key takeaways, which will explain why I enjoyed the conference so much.

Tables at the Keynotes and in Each Breakout Session

One of the nicest touches at #CMWorld is having tables in each session. It was great to sit at a desk with my laptop and take notes and tweet. 

Loved the Location

A conference the size of CMWorld, almost 3,500 people, could easily be held in one of the glamorous locations conferences frequent: Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, Boston. But it continues to be held in Cleveland.

Kudos to the Content Marketing Institute.

I had never been to Cleveland, but I thought it was a great place for a conference. September is a great time of year for weather in Cleveland, which works for me coming from California. Downtown was very nice; far nicer than downtown San Francisco, and Cleveland is on Lake Erie, so there were nice views. 
Walking around was easy and convenient. I had a good time exploring downtown on two of my runs and on one run managed to run around the baseball park, basketball area, and football stadium, plus run underneath the Rock and Roll Hall of fame and along the harbor shores of Lake Erie. 

Very nice.

The Opening Keynote

At the opening keynote address, I enjoyed getting the state of the content marketing industry. Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), shared preliminary results of the industry research report the CMI does every year. The results were not all roses. Overall content marketing effectiveness was down from 2014 to 2015. The good news is that Pulizzi shared actions that high performing marketing teams perform that set them apart from low performing teams. 

I found that very helpful. 

Content Marketing is Disillusioned?

Have you heard of the Hype Cycle? I had not. But when Pulizzi shared with the audience that content marketing was likely approaching the Tough of Disillusionment, I was both shocked and appreciative of the candor.

I have to be honest, a few of the talks I attended had a them of “We still stink at this…….and here is what we can do to improve.” 

I like that honesty, even if it is hyperbole, since so may companies are great at content marketing.

Sessions that Teach, Not Pitch

Most conference have product pitches thinly disguised at session talks. Content Marketing World is not one of them. Of the seven sessions I attended, all were designed to help me not pitch a product. It was not until the very end, as a seeming afterthought, that speakers mentioned their product/service. Two gave away valuable products to all who attended their session, so I could do it (what it was) myself…instead of hiring them.

In other words, the speakers helped me so much, I may not need their help. I bet these speakers get the most business from the conference as a result. 

Note to conference organizers: Require speakers to offer educational sessions not product pitches. Seriously! I know sponsors pay the bills, but C’mon.

Heed the words of David Beebe of Marriott:

My Favorite Single Session

My favorite session by far was from Doug Kessler of Velocity on Insane Honesty. As Kessler describes it: insane honesty is putting your worst foot forward and actively seeking out weakness to share them openly. Can you believe that? 

Kessler goes on to say that this works because customer can trust everything the company says about the positives if they are insanely honest about the negatives. 

In his talk, Kessler offered six reasons to practice insane honesty:
  1. It surprises and charms
  2. It signals confidence
  3. It builds trust
  4. It alienates less likely buyers
  5. It attracts ideal prospects
  6. Focuses you on battles you can win
You can learn more in his SlideShare presentation. 

One of my favorite parts of his talk came when in response to a question from the audience, more insane honesty about his company’s approach: 

Panic Early

Throughout the conference, there were multiple moments of inspiration. One was from John Cleese who talked about the importance of panicking early in order to get it out of the way. If you take on a new assignment or project, it is best to panic early so at least you have time to do something about the panic. If you procrastinate and wait to panic three days before the project is due, you don’t have enough time to do anything useful. You panic either way. The smart thing to do is panic early and get it out of the way.

Visiting Every (Well, Almost) Booth

I am new to marketing, so I wanted to make it a point to see as many booths as possible to learn everything I could about the tools marketers use to get stuff done. 

Sure, I will get a ton of sales calls and I will be saying “No" a lot because I cannot buy everything, but it was great to learn about ways to make this job a little bt easier through tools.

I appreciated the opportunity to learn about some excellent content marketing products.

Participation Marketing, Influencer Marketing, Advocacy Marketing? 

Get it straight people. Which is it? At Content Marketing World, I learned about participation marketing, Influence Marketing, and Advocacy Marketing. As I heard people discuss the differences, it reminded me of the scene from Cheers when Fraiser attempted to read A Tale of Two Cities to the gang in the bar.

Frasier reads: “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."

Norm interrupts: “Wait, wait, wait. Which one was it?"


I am not sure I know the difference, but I intend to find out.  

If I Have One Regret…...

I did not network very much. I was so busy racing from session to session and booth to booth, I did not take the time to really network and meet new people. For that I feel bad. I flew in late Tuesday night and left early AM Friday and was going non-stop most of the time. 

I felt like I was 10 minutes behind schedule the entire time. If I get a chance to go again, which I hope I do, I plan to arrive a bit earlier. 

Overall, Excellent Conference

As I said, I been to a lot of conferences and Content Marketing World ranks among my favorites for all the reasons listed above, and more. If you are in Marketing, I strongly suggest you attend this conference. You will learn more about using content to make a meaningful impact on your marketing results during this week, than in any effort you do to improve your marketing effectiveness. That sounds like a strong statement, but I believe its true.

Think about it. If you want to have good SEO, you need good content. If you want to have effective social media marketing, you need good content to share. If you want to increase conversation rates, you better have the right content in the right stages of the buyer journey.

This is not even a complete list.

But you get the point. If you do attend, perhaps we can meet for a Sunkist and   candy corn snack. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

On Distractions: If Logos Were Honest

I thought I’d share a fun little series of slides I saw at Doug Kessler's talk at Content Marketing World 2015 called How Insane Honesty Can Take Your B2B Story to the Next Level.

These slides related to the topic of distractions and I thought you would find them interesting:

If Logos Were Honest: 



Friday, September 18, 2015

Dreamforce: Self-Guided Quests Helps Conference Goers Learn Salesforce

Demand for learning new technologies keeps rising and the faster technology moves, the more (and faster) people have to learn.

The speed at which software is moving is exemplified at Dreamforce 2015. Salesforce announced a dizzying array of new products and feature enhancements including the App Cloud, Analytics Cloud, IoT Cloud, Thunder, Lightening, tighter integration with Microsoft, to mention only the big ones. As a professional trainer, my mind spins thinking about all the new things people need to learn just to keep up.

And I am not the only one.

Salesforce takes learning seriously. For good reason. They have data that suggests people who attend Salesforce University classes have higher adoption rates, are more productive, and renew at higher rates. If you had this data, you’d take learning seriously, too. 

Do you have that data on your product?

To demonstration how demand for learning is increasing, let’s take a look at Dreamforce 2014. Last year, Salesforce trained over 10,000 people in live training sessions and proctors certification exams at the conference. These are staggering numbers.  

And considering all of the new announcements at Dreamforce in 2015, it is not nearly enough to just offer live training to 10,000 people.

To address the demand, Salesforce University created an innovative, self-directed way for Dreamforce participants to learn new skills and win fun prizes along the way. It’s called the DevZone Quests and Mini Hacks

Here is how it works. The DevZone Quest has three phases of tasks that people need to complete.

Step 1: Watch a Demo    

The DevZone Quest has four demos covering the following topics: App Cloud, Design HQ, IoT Cabin, Partners. These demos help participants get started learning what can be done in Salesforce. For example, developers can see the App Cloud features and how it works, to set the context for how Apps could be developed. In the Design HQ, people learn about the new Salesforce UI, Lightening (This is big news all by itself. The first major UI update in 16 years). The Internet of Things (IoT) Cabin shows off use cases. IoT is so new, people need to know what is possible and what people are doing? “Why would I connect a motorcycle to the Internet?"

Step 2: Pick Up a Starter Kit

In Step 2 of the journey, participants pick up a starter kit that covers all the resources needed to get started in learning Salesforce for any role. And there are a lot of roles that use Salesforce: developers, administrators, and end users in sales, service, marketing, community, and analytics.

Step 3: Get Hands-On

The final part of the DevZone Quest is performing specific actions (Mini Hacks) to get hands-on experience in some the new tools. These hands-ons experiences with core App Cloud features, guided tutorials with expert facilitators leading the way, and mini challenges that when completed, earn participants prizes. 
Photo: Credit:
Combine all of this with earning achievement along to way, and you have a fun way to experience some of the new things in Salesforce and explore possibilities you had not yet thought about it or even knew were possible.

Gamify Learning at Dreamforce

As steps are completed, participants earns stamps that unlock prizes, from t-shirts to hoodies. As participants completed more advanced tasks like hacks, they are entered into giveaways to win higher value goodies like computers, kayaks, and mountain bikes. 

DevZone Quest is great because it taps into both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

You Go to Dreamforce to See Stevie Wonder

So, I am just sitting there at the Dreamforce Keynote waiting for Mark Benioff to start talking...........and Stevie Wonder starts singing.

Stevie did a number of tunes, got crowd singing, and pulled out this cool instrument to simulate a guitar and played a mean Superstition.

Not bad. Not Bad at all.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Urgency and the Evil That Distractions Do

Bill Cushard: The Evil that Distractions Do
 Distractions can be a nice diversion to help us relax, reset our minds and souls, and allow us to come back refreshed.  
This is what we tell ourselves when we are 3 hours into a mindless binge of plane crash complications on YouTube, Facebook friend photos of their 14 year-olds’ first day at school (Seriously?), and seemingly harmless scanning of news headlines.
Not that I have ever done anything like that. Nope.
Actually, I have never taken a photo of my children on their first day of school and posted it in Facebook. The way I see it, you can do that once. On their first day of pre-school; the actual first day of school. Ever.
Distractions, we say, can be a good diversion.
After all, it is important to have a good weekend off to come back to work on Monday fresh. Endurance athletes need rest and recovery days to allow their bodies to build back up and be strong for another hard workout. Vacations are important too for all the reasons said, written, and experienced by many.
But we delude ourselves to think that distractions are a good diversion. 
Distractions are holding us back.
OK, I will not speak for you. Distractions are holding me back.
I have been thinking a lot about distractions lately. Whenever I un-purposefully swipe through the screens on my phone or watch another video of Keith Richards playing 30-20 Blues (C’mon, this is OK, right?), or refresh by Twitter timeline for no specific reason, I think to myself, “What am I doing? This is pointless."

Nir Eyal is right. I’m hooked.
But don’t try to tell me I’m hooked. If you tell me that, I will get defensive and  deny all charges. At the very least, I will think less of you for pointing it out. At the most, I will accuse you of being distracted and point out, without conscience or mercy or regard for your self esteem, that your distractions were the reason you ruined your relationship with that certain someone, whoever that is. I’ll think of someone. 
And don’t come over to my house with my wife and my mom and my best friend from college to conduct an intervention.
It will not work. 
I will probably just take a photo of you all and post it to my Facebook page, “Look. My first intervention."
No. Don’t do it. It will not work. These are things people need to figure out for themselves. 
As I have thought more consciously about distractions in my life, three small, independent, but significant events that occurred this month, have come together in a series of signs of sorts telling me to sweetly that I must pay attention to distractions and try to stop them when I see them.
Work Like There is a Gun to My Head
On The Lede podcast, John Carlton, a legendary copywriter, told a story about how he started out in copywriting. When he started getting writing assignments he had nothing to fall back on, so he says he wrote “like there was a gun to his head.” He clarified saying, “This has to work.” He wrote with a focus on creating something as good as he could, not doing anything fancy or risky just focusing on the basic principles of good copywriting. In other words, he did not allow himself to get distracted by shiny objects.
This Better Work Or We’re Dead
At a session talk at Content Marketing World 2015 about how to buy a media company, Scott McCafferty talked about how he evaluated media companies to buy and described his process for buying them. He made an interesting comment about what goes through his mind every time he buys a little media company. “This better work or we’re dead.” 
What he meant is that in these acquisitions, he used his own money. He is not using bank loans or investor money, but his own money from the business and in some cases, equity from his home. 
Talk about an event that drives focus. With a future on the line like this, one would not easily get distracted by too much idleness. 
Do it Now or it May Never Come Back
On a recent Showrunner Podcast (I’m sorry, I cannot remember the one it was), the guest describes an opportunity about creating a course about running a podcast. The idea came from Brian Clark, the founder of Copyblogger. It was an opportunity the guest knew he could not pass up. He did not know how he would do it, but he knew he had to do it. Rather than say, as most of us would do, “That’s a cool idea. Maybe I should do it?” He called Brian back, got an introduction to his friend, and started making it happen that day. He did not allow himself to get distracted by fear or research or even his Facebook feed, all which would be excuses for inaction.
He just started. Now. 

Secrets to Life: Focus and Action

In each of these stories, distractions would be the reason for inaction at the very least and a person’s downfall at the most. It is scary to think what these people who not have produced had they allowed themselves to get distracted. 
That is what I think about often.  
I am now way more conscious of distractions in my life and the concept of urgency and action. Every day, I fight the distraction demons so I can do the things I really want to do. Some days are better than others.
If you’d like to see one more funny visual about distractions, click here to see three slides from a talk I heard at Content Marketing World. These three slides answer the question: If Logos Were Honest...