Conference In-Person Event Content: 3 Points of View

Content Marketing World Conference: Naked and Exposed

Conference In-person event contentConferences like Content Marketing World are the ultimate in-person event content.

Presenters, attendees and sponsors must engage person-to-person (P2P).

Human-to-human (H2H—Hat tip: Bryan Kramer) interactions build relationships that continue to grow.

I learned you must reveal your true inner self through your content at a live event like Content Marketing World.

To succeed at conferences, you must be naked and exposed.

Conference In-person event content


1. One-to-Many Conference In-Person Event Content: Be real

Joe Pulizzi kicked off Content Marketing World 2016. He set the agenda by exposing his personal entrepreneurial experience.

Before becoming the godfather of content marketing, Pulizzi started Junta42 in March 2007.

By September 2009, Pulizzi realized he failed.

When you find yourself in trouble ask the simple question, “Why?” It’s your key to the future. It guides you to your tilt. (BTW, Pulizzi describes a content tilt in-depth in his book, Content, Inc.)

Why did Junta42 fail?

Pulizzi didn’t totally commit to content marketing.

So he pivoted. He went all in on Content Marketing Institute.

Result:Content Marketing Institute sold to UBM for $17.6 million in May 2016!  While Pulizzi looks like an overnight success, it took 9 years to achieve this goal.

Joe Pulizzi’s content marketing bottom line:

“…Be all in with content marketing or get out … Mediocre content hurts your brand more than no content at all!”

Conference in-person event content

Joe Pulizzi’s Content Marketing World Quote

True success takes time.

I’ll let that sink in.

MarketingProfs’s Ann Handley dubbed this “slow marketing”.

Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina gave the 2016 Content Marketing World keynote. Talk about ultimate in-person event content!

This is a mega platform and the pressure’s on.

You can’t pay for it.

You have to earn it.

You must be the best-rated speaker of the previous year’s conference. Your audience has to show you real love in their feedback.

It looks easy, but it’s not.

You must create in-person event content that listens to your audience’s needs. Content Marketing World attendees are a very savvy, discerning group.

Running $10 million Orbit Media agency, Crestodina looks like an overnight content marketing success.

But he’s not.

Crestodina showed his humble beings. In 2002, he earned $924. That’s it.

Andy Crestodina's humble beginnings to Orbit Media

Crestodina first attended Content Marketing World 2013 on his own dime. He used the opportunity to produce awesome content, namely his Content Marketing World 2013 Yearbook.  (BTW, Spin Sucks’s Gini Dietrich recommended his Orbit Media blog in my pre-conference roundup.)P2P Content - Crestodina CMW Yearbook

At the last minute, Crestodina substituted for a Lunch and Learn session. He presented to a standing room only. (Okay–it was a small room. It was great content. I was there!) 

Crestodina grew and evolved as a content marketer. In Chicago he creates in-person events. He runs a monthly Wine and Web after work and an annual full day Content Jam. This provides additional content and presenting experience. Content-Marketing-Example-wine_web_logo-crestodina

Further, he’s built his website, blog and email list. He consistently posts once every other week on the Orbit Media blog. He also guest posts to support his search optimization and expand his reach.

To add to his credentials, Crestodina wrote Content Chemistry. The book is continually updated. (BTW, here’s the full list of #CMWorld authors.)


Crestodina regularly puts in the hard work to yield long-term content marketing results. He’s all in on content marketing! He follows Copyblogger’s Sonia Simone’s advice:

“Don’t take shortcuts, they take too long.” 

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Ask: “How can we be fully committed to a true content marketing strategy?” How do we have to modify our business goals? What does this mean for our audience?


2. Many-to-Many Conference In-Person Event Content: Connect with others

Engaging with influencers, peers and prospects is a key element of any in-person live conference event.

But Content Marketing Institute goes further. Core to Content Marketing World’s agenda planning is fun. This isn’t left to chance! There’s the opening night mixer and a rock concert (complete with after-party.)

The most important element of in-person event content is building an on-going community. Pulizzi and his CMI team have done right. It’s not just a once-a-year conference.

The Content Marketing World community (hashtag: #CMWorld) lives on Twitter and other social networks all year long. (Join the TwitterChat Tuesdays at noon, Cleveland time.)

Content Marketing World celebrates its loyal participants. Specifically, they call out those who’ve attended every year. These fans are on the Content Marketing World Hall of Fame.

To be included, you have to show up! That’s core to being part of any community. Here’s a photo of Deana Goldasich. She’s attended Content Marketing World every year—6 years in a row! This year she presented her own session!


This year, Content Marketing Institute recognized Erika Heald as its 2016 #CMWorld Community Champion at its awards ceremony. The best part: Heald was celebrated on Twitter where she’s the #CMWorld queen! This is a great way to show your community they matter to you.


Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Consider how you can spotlight your community members. Remember: Your goal is to make them feel important, not to push your products and services.


3. Many-to-One Conference In-Person Event Content: Get your audience to give back

In 2015, Content Marketing Institute introduced their not-for-profit, The Orange Effect Foundation. There was a jumbo orange cube composed of smaller cubes on display to get Content Marketing World attendees involved.

In-person events - Many to One

#CMWorld Attendees Contribute To Orange Effect Foundation Sculpture

It’s a many-to-one way for an organization to give back. (BTW, giving back is an important millennial value.)

Pam and Joe Pulizzi founded The Orange Effect Foundation. Its mission is to help developmentally disabled children find their voices. The Orange Effect Foundation walks the talk.

In an intimate video Pam and Joe describe their personal journey with their son who was born with autism. They discovered early intervention helped significantly. It enabled their son to become an independent young man.

Talk about being naked and exposed.

How many parents would step outside their comfort zone to help others in need?

Yet, the Pulizzis did. Not only Pam and Joe but also, their son. The Orange Effect Foundation is on topic. They know their audience because they’ve been there.

The Orange Effect Foundation offers #CMWorld attendees a way to give back as a communications savvy community to those who need help communicating.

BTW–If you want to help the Orange Effect Foundation, please make a donation

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Think about how your organization can give back to your community. Ask: What kind of content can we create to support this initiative.


Conference In-Person Event Content Bottom Line

Regardless of your role, speaker, attendee or sponsor, at a live in-person conference, you must engage with the people there.

It’s your opportunity to build real-life relationships with others. These bonds can grow and translate into online opportunities, both business and personal.

But there’s a hitch…

You’ve got to be willing to participate.

You need to turn off your devices and exist in the moment.

Be your true self. You need to find a way to make a connection.

At Content Marketing World, I was fortunate. I met amazing people. Readers came up to me. They told me they read my blog.

I had dinner with new people each night. We built connections within the larger Content Marketing World community.

I had the time to learn more about people I’d met at earlier Content Marketing Worlds. We discussed ways we can work together going forward.

How wonderful is that?

Are you willing to make your in-person event content naked and exposed to reveal your true self?

Can your in-person event content connect better with your core community?

What one small step can you take now to build for the future?

How about if you share this article with your community?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

Photo Credit: (c)2016 Heidi Cohen – Right to use with link to this article.

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