10 Content Marketing World 2014 Lessons

How To Create Content Marketing That Will Improve Your Business

Content Marketing World 2014I just returned from Content Marketing World 2014 and I’m basking in the event’s orange glow.

When Social Media Examiner’s Mike Stelzner asked me why I attended Content Marketing World, The answer was easy:

To meet my peers.

While social media has done an amazing job of expanding your circle of colleagues you might not have met otherwise, nothing beats real life connections. This is particularly true if you’re a solopreneur or virtual employee.

Content Marketing World is worth the price of admission just for the ability to mix with meet the people behind amazing content in real life. This year, I met Jeff Rohrs, Andrea Vahl, Doug Kessler, Carla Johnson and Andrew Davis for the first time.

10 Actionable Content Marketing World 2014 lessons

Here are 10 actionable Content Marketing World 2014 lessons you can apply to your business to improve your results. While I’ve credited the person(s) who inspired these lessons, please understand that they weren’t necessarily part of formal presentations.

Content Marketing World 2014 lesson: Like school, what you learn outside of the classroom can be as important as what you learn inside the classroom!!!

1. Grow your audience. (Hat tip to Kevin Spacey)

Netflix gave Kevin Spacey and his team the freedom to create a number of House of Cards episodes without first developing a pilot show. While all of the studios wanted to produce the series, none was willing to break the existing rules of television production.

Actionable Content Marketing Take-away: Use every opportunity to build and enhance your audience because it’s golden. It’s a business asset that enhances your ability to communicate directly with your prospects and customers.

2. Leverage the Velvet Rope Effect. (Hat tip to Content Marketing Institute)

This year, Content Marketing World tested a series of intensive sessions. These were 2-part training, information rich courses given by one speaker.

Since attendees needed to commit to 2 sessions, the courses were held in a relatively small room. CMI probably assumed only a small number of attendees would be willing to make this commitment.

Due to the limited number of people who could gain entry, these sessions had a line snaking out the door to snag a place making them seem even more desirable.

Actionable Content Marketing Take-away: Consider what information or access your prospects and customers would find desirable enough to pay for.

3. Let your audience consume content their way. (Hat tip to Kevin Spacey)

Content options and devices with which to consume them continue to grow. Spacey referenced many new television shows with targeted audience appeal such as Breaking Bad.

At least half of the audience liked binge television consumption.

The bottom line: Content models are changing. Give your audience the freedom to choose how to consume and use your information. Content marketers take heed. Research shows that customers are 60% to 80% of the way through the purchase process before they contact you.Content Marketing- 4 Types of Consumption - INFOGRAPHIC by Heidi Cohen

Actionable Content Marketing Take-away: Offer potential customers the 5 basic content types they seek and make it easy for them to find it regardless of the platform they choose to use.

4. Tell stories that inspire your prospects and customers to act. (Hat tip to Andrew Davis)

Stories must appeal to consumers in a way that surprises them and inspires them to act. Realize that stories may work in subconscious ways.

Find the stories in your business. Appreciate that the more specific you get the more universal your appeal (although this sounds counter intuitive.)

Actionable Content Marketing Take-away: Gather stories from your employees and your customers. Don’t go it alone. Here are 29 company story ideas.

Give your storytellers a reason to share them with you. Make sure that you get their permission to use it and give them recognition for their contribution.

5. Tap into every opportunity to create quality content.

Many content creators and editors spend hours pondering what to write.

Take advantage of attending live conferences to create at least one piece of amazing content (like this blog post.)

At Content Marketing World 2014, many attendees and companies used the event to create photographs, audio and video. Andy Crestodina not only created his second Content Marketing World Yearbook but also created a video game where respondents answered a question and asked one of the next person.

Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose moved their podcast to a live forum pre-conference. They used the opportunity to announce a number of new CMI changes.

Actionable Content Marketing Take-away: Include content creation in every conference attendee’s to do list. (BTW—If you’d like to participate in my content curation effort, please email me a piece of content that you’d like to share and why its shareworthy. Also give the piece an alternate title and include your name, company, Twitter handle.  (Email it to: Heidi@Curation.Marketing by Monday, September 17th.)

6. Take advantage of the power of content hubs. (Hat tip to Gini Dietrich and Andy Crestodina.)

Don’t just publish more and more content. Instead be intentional about what you create so that you can consistently drive traffic to your site.

Andy Crestodina created this great visual (that Gini Dietrich also presented at Content Marketing World.) A content hub consists of a central hub, related topics and supportive base. Content marketing world 2014

Actionable Content Marketing Take-away: Focus your content creation efforts to increase your reach and authority.

7. Curate content. (Hat tip to my CMW Workshop attendees and Lee Odden)

Content curation is starting to enter the content marketing lexicon. (Check this content curation glossary.)

Why use content curation when you can create your own tailored content? Content curation is the engine behind marketing power. It positions you as an expert by steering your audience to the best of the information on the web. (And by the way, it saves your audience time.)

Content curation is at the heart of influencer marketing. By pointing to others and asking them to contribute to your content, you expand your circle of friends and spotlight them. Odden has perfected the formula for the pre-conference eBook.

Actionable Content Marketing Take-away:  Incorporate content curation into your promotional and editorial calendar to broaden your voice. (Of course, you must be ethical about your use!)

8. Empower people to extend your brand.

Anyone who’s attended Content Marketing World knows that wearing something orange is a must. It’s Content Marketing Institute’s color. Some attendees spend days looking for orange colored clothes. I wore a bright orange beret.

Following this logic, the Wall Street Journal took visitors’ photos and transformed them into stiples, the black and white dotted drawings that pepper the newspaper. Now every visitor who posts the stipple extends the WSJ brand. Here’s what mine looked like: Heidi Cohen-WSJ Stipple Portrait from CMWorld

Actionable Content Marketing Take-away: Start building your brand from the start. Don’t say it’s difficult or only for big businesses. The earlier and more consistently you do it the better off your business will be.

9. Improve your conversion rate. (Hat tip to Ian Cleary and Tim Ash)

This lesson is associated with Derek Halpern’s 80-20 Rule of Content.

The idea is to get more conversions from your existing traffic. This doesn’t require attracting more people, but rather getting more of them to say yes. Most content marketers start with building their email list.

To calculate your conversion rate, often abbreviated CR is: Conversions / Clicks

For example if you have 100 visitors per day on average, improving your conversions from 2 to 4 matters. This often translates to making changes to your landing pages. Yes more visitors will increase your growth more, but you’re still leaving money on the table.

Actionable Content Marketing Take-away: Focus on every aspect of your conversion process. This means from the first button through to the landing page and thank you page.

10. Associate your metrics with results. (Hat tip to Scott Stratton, Andy Crestodina and Julie Fleischer)

I loved Scott Stratton’s example of his Nooooooooooooooo page that receives a ridiculous number of pageviews (Okay the number has lots of zeros in it.) But it’s just one page with a button.Content Marketing World 2014


Kraft taps into real time metrics and adjusts their content to create moments of inspiration. As a result, they’ve shown that their content marketing yields 4x better ROI than traditional advertising, according to Julie Fleischer.

Actionable Content Marketing Take-away: Figure out what metrics will show you that your business is on tract to achieve your goals. Skip the vanity metrics.

Keep testing your content, calls-to-action and landing pages to ensure that you’re maximizing your businesses results.


Every live event is a gigantic piece of content that provides many lessons as well as many opportunities to make real life connections. Leverage these events to support your content efforts, whether you’re an attendee, sponsor or presenter.

If you attended Content Marketing World 2014, what were your biggest lessons learned and why?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

PS:  Thank you to both Gini Dietrich of Spin Sucks and Lee Odden of Top Rank for mentioning me in their presentations. I was deeply touched.

BTW—Please join me in Copenhagen, Denmark for Content 14. If that’s not enough reason, Jay Baer and Marcus Sheridan will be joining me as well.



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Photo Credit: Taken by Dani the bartender at the Urban Farmer via Andy Crestodina’siPhone.

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