A business conference is what you make it, but it's hard to make Content Marketing World anything but truly inspirational and just downright fun. I mean, if Kevin Spacey shows up to the party, you know there's something magical happening. Having just returned from #CMWorld2014 (how many times can that be tweeted over the course of three days!?), my mind is churning with a world of possibilities for new Content Marketing plans. Randall Rothenberg, as quoted by Kirk Cheyfitz at CMWorld, said, "There is no...consensus on the basic definition of advertising. And this is the source of both opportunity and crisis." Now is the time to avoid the crisis and find the opportunities in advertising, through powerful Content Marketing. 

More than 2500 Content Marketing professionals gather for the yearly conference in Cleveland, Ohio.

More than 2500 Content Marketing professionals gather for the yearly conference in Cleveland, Ohio.

Here's a few CMWorld takeaways:

The Power of Storytelling
One main message of the conference is the strength of storytelling, taking the consumer on a journey that they just can't refuse. It's inspiring, compelling, personable, hunger-inducing, fear-invoking, humor-creating, or emotional, but at its core, it's a story. Brands that are seeing the most success online are doing so not because they're amazing marketers, or because they have unlimited budgets available for ads, but because they are skilled storytellers. Some of the greatest names in the industry don't come from a background of marketing or PR; they come from journalism, or comedy writing, or even theatre. These are the people that know how to connect with an audience through the telling of a powerful story. Your business has a story to tell; it's time to get creative and share the story with your audience.

One Big Idea
A strong statement to come out of the conference is the power of the big idea, one overarching theme that transcends all the tiny pieces to leave the audience with a strong feeling of loyalty and brand awareness. There's far too much crud drudging up the internet today, with everyone trying idea after idea and firing off millions of pieces of content every day. At CMWorld, Andrew Davis said, "Don't contribute to information overload," and it's important that we take that to heart. Rather than taking your strategy through an assortment of messages to target different audiences, what is the one big idea that can steer everyone into the direction your business wants to travel? Nike did it years ago with 'Just Do It.' The 'it' is left undetermined, but the motivating words (that left no excuse for inaction) sparked a feeling inside everyone. Whatever our lives, whatever our motives, whatever our goals, we just need to do it already. Nike's big idea was one that inspired us to kick ourselves in the butt and get going. What's your company's big idea?

Kevin Spacey delivers a killer keynote at CMWorld2014.

Kevin Spacey delivers a killer keynote at CMWorld2014.

Creative Connections
Content Marketing isn't just words on a page hoping desperately to be picked up by the Google crawlers; it's colorful design and creative video, engaging social posting and memorable imagery. Back in the old days, salesmen would just show up at your door, forcing a face-to-face connection (if even in the few moments before you said 'no, I don't want that vaccuum' and shut the door). Or how about when telemarketers could craftily lure you into a conversation that ultimately ended with a purchase (or you becoming so angry you reported them to any business bureau that would take complaints)? Today, the modern consumer isn't so easily duped, and with a smorgasbord of communication tools available, it's time to get creative with how you're connecting with your audience. You can't force them to listen; there's jus too much other noise happening online. They have to want to listen, to engage, to participate, and to return again and again. 

Is it a weekly web series that shows the fun side of your office? Or is it a free guide that gives valuable information to your audience, with the goal of earning their respect and loyalty to your brand? It's these and more; it's creative Tweets and unforgettable Facebook posts, business connections through LinkedIn articles and audience reach through informative webinars and podcasts. Mark Schaefer said, "Twitter is like the movie trailer to your movie," and that's a great way of thinking about all of your Content Marketing offerings; show them something awesome, and leave them wanting more. The way to connect today is to be completely and unapologetically unforgettable, and the best way to do that? Get creative. Do what no one else is doing. And keep doing it.

If you're serious about taking your Content Marketing plans to the next level, Content Marketing World is an amazing conference that can keep you up to speed on what's new, what's working and what's not. Or just call us; we're always happy to help.

Laura Holloway is the owner of The Storyteller Agency, serving as chief strategist and producer, and she spend a good amount of time on the road speaking on the importance of Content Marketing for business. More than anything, she values the ability to push the envelope and foster originality and inspiration. She always lives by e.e.cummings' words: "The most wasted of all days is one without laughter."

When she's not working, Laura enjoys spending time with her husband and 'office dogs,' yoga at the beach, performing improv comedy, riding her Vespa up and down 30-A and binge-watching Breaking Bad. She believes in the power of true love, sweet tea, good storytelling and that one good rock show can change the world.

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