Lessons from the Intelligent Content Conference
Mad Men, content as gold (or currency) and the interactive realities now coming to life via e-books, social reader apps and mobile devices were hot topics at the Intelligent Content Conference held earlier this month in San Francisco.
The 5th annual event focuses on advanced information creation, management and delivery strategies and had a number of great sessions for anyone who deals with content—not just creators but information architects and strategists, too.
According to the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report from the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, the #1 challenge content marketers face is producing enough content.
In my line of work, I focus on daily challenges faced by curators and creators who are trying to bulk up their owned media. The insights here are weighted heavily toward that audience. But there have been tremendous shifts in publishing. Every company is getting into the game and the need for intelligent content is now critical. This conference taught me a lot and is a great resource for any content creator who wants their content to be viable in the future.
- Publishing is a privilege. In an inspiring keynote presentation from Marketoon Studios Founder/CEO Tom Fishburne reminded us to think of publishing as a privilege. “Technology can’t save boring content. But it can amplify remarkable content.” Fishburne started his visual career in college which led him to create one of the first content marketing campaigns for the Wall Street Journal. He advised the marketers to create content that can be spread far and wide. When it’s good, content can act as a Trojan horse to get a company’s message out. Cartoons are especially powerful because they rely on the audience to unlock the complete context. In other words, they leave room for engagement. Does your content do that?
- Content is much more than just “King.” This was message from FusionSpark Media Founder and CEO, Russell Sparkman. He cited the disconnect between budget and perception from a recent Outbrain and eConsultancy study. The data showed less than 50% of marketers spend more than 20% of their budgets on content marketing, but 88% agree content marketing is more effective than advertising at driving sales. So why is content marketing so undervalued and why is it still considered a discretionary spend? Sparkman is on a public campaign to rid the industry of its pervasive “content is king” catchphrase. He intends to reframe it with “content is gold.” Both gold and content are malleable, conductive and they convey status and influence. Most important of all: the company with the best content wins.
- Content can educate (or re-educate your market). John Wuebben, CEO of Content Launch and author of Content is Currency shared insights about how Eloqua built awareness for its marketing automation solutions by educating 90% of the market that didn’t know what marketing automation was. His presentation also offered an exhaustive list of ideas and concepts to guide anyone crafting a content marketing plan for their unique industry.
- The Madison Avenue advertising era (the Don Draper world of command and control) is gone. Keynotes from both Michael Weiss of figure18 and Fishburne warned that audiences are no longer captive. Engaging is an audience choice and they hold the power. In his eBooks and social reading presentation, Matthew Cavnar declared us now in the midst of a unique cultural moment for what social technology making possible. Content and publishers are at the center of it.
- Publishing is a tool for discovering new audiences and new dynamics of existing audiences. Jeff Nowak from Rocket Man Digital shared General Mills case studies about the uses of content to expand the Betty Crocker brand beyond its 1921 origins–starting with the famous baker and her cookbook. Betty’s Brewhouse (a web site dedicated to beer enthusiasts) and #Betty911 were among examples of how adjacent interests and audiences were leveraged to create engagement.
- Future proof content should be able to stand up against the filters audiences will use to keep it out. Razorfish’s Sarah Beckley advised listeners that home pages—even web pages are dead. While I don’t fully agree that this is the reality right now for all businesses, I see the growing need for content that is “future proof.” Beckley says content must be accessible, findable, agile, adaptable, nimble and responsive.The Intelligent Content Conference was produced by Scott Abel (the Content Wrangler) and Ann Rockley, author and founder of the Rockley Group. More of the great presentations can be found on the Slide Deck Central section of the 2013 conference site.