Content Jam 2015 Recap: 60-Second Takeaways to ‘Level Up’ Your Content Marketing

Content Jam 2015 marketing conference Chicago

I’m still cleaning up the mess after having my mind blown at Content Jam last month. But it’s a good mess. Besides expanding my thinking and learning some new tricks and strategies, I’ve already taken some action to step up my content marketing game. A couple of my clients have benefited from the tips I picked up, too.

Plus, I met some super-cool people. (That’s what happens when you come out of the cave and meet with other smart, creative people in real life.)

If you couldn’t make it to Chicago, you missed out BIG TIME.

Never fear! After the conference, I reached out to each of the rockstar speakers and asked them to boil down their presentations into bite-sized takeaways for anyone who couldn’t make it.

Here’s what they shared with me:

If you had 60 seconds or less, what’s the #1 takeaway from your presentation you’d share with anyone who couldn’t make it to Content Jam?

Tim Ash, about “Context and the Power of Framing – Biasing Your Offer with Irrational Neuromarketing”

The brain is the real ‘operating system’ for marketing. Understanding the evolution of it, as well as the strong and often irrational built-in biases will help online marketers a lot more than focusing on the latest technologies.

Tim Ash Neuromarketing

Note: All the “graphic recordings” in this post were created by Alphachimp.

You can see Tim’s full presentation on Orbit Media Studio’s YouTube channel here. As a bonus, I heckled Tim from the audience right around the 10:00 mark. To get the context, start paying attention at 9:22. Yep, that interruption is me.

Tim handled it like a pro. Threats of physical violence were made, but we were able to reconcile after the session.

Angie Schottmuller on “Holy Grail of On-Page Content Optimization”

“You can’t optimize what you don’t measure.” Jumping into content updates without data-driven insights is time consuming and foolish. The “holy grail” event tracking approach replaces guesswork with strategic wisdom for content optimization that confidently drives measurable results.

Angie Schottmuller conversion optimization

Check out Angie’s slides on Slideshare and watch the presentation in its entirety here.

Nancy Goldstein, about her presentation “The Creative Brief: The Secret Ingredient That Will Make All Your Content More Powerful and Effective”

Creative briefs are critical. You have to make absolutely sure that everyone who has accountability for content – strategy, implementation, or approvals – is in agreement about how the execution is going to deliver on the strategy. The only way to do that is to get it on paper and have a conversation about it. If you skip this step, you risk going through round after round after round of creative approvals, debates, and frustrations.

You can find the slides from Nancy’s presentation on her Slideshare page.

Amy Schmittauer on “How to Develop and Execute an Effective YouTube Strategy”

Do not waste any time. When your perfect viewer stumbles upon your content because they wanted to discover more about a topic you’re covering, the worst thing you can do it make them wait for you to get to the point. The more time at the beginning of a video with extra stuff YOU think is is important are precious moments wasted that you could be proving to your viewer that you are the resource they need to stay subscribed to for the long-term.

Amy Schmittauer YouTube Strategy Savvy Sexy Social

Watch Amy’s presentation in full on here.

Mana Ionescu speaking about her “Guide to Results-Driven Email Marketing and Automation”

Stop worrying about making emails pretty and start thinking of how to make them quick to read and easy to click on mobile devices. Shorten paragraphs (have an average of one link per 8-12 words), increase font size and increase size of links and calls to action so it’s easy to tap them with your fingertip.

You can check out the slides from Mana’s presentation on Lightspan Digital’s Slideshare page.

Jeannie Walters on how to “Become Your Company’s Customer Experience Investigator™”

Understand your customer’s entire journey to improve how your content is relevant to them. Think about your customer on his or her worst day, struggling with whatever product or service you offer, and understand your brand is not what they think about 24/7. Make sure your content strategy supports their true goals. It’s not just about who they are, it’s about where they are in their journey with your brand.

Check out this video of Jeannie talking about customer experience

 

Andy Crestodina, speaking about “Fortune and Glory: How to Make Friends, Rank High and Get Famous”

Social media isn’t just about sharing links and hoping for clicks. It’s not about counting likes and favorites. These things are nice, but they don’t help your marketing very much at all. Maybe you’ve noticed.

Yes, social media CAN drive traffic, but the quality of that traffic tends to be low. So the DIRECT benefits of social media are often very small.

So try this: focus on the INDIRECT benefits of social media. If you use it to build relationships, the value of those relationships are often huge.

  • Use social media search tools to find very specific content creators in your niche
  • Follow them, read what they write, get to know them
  • Interact with them within their content, in comments and through sharing
  • Connect with them on multiple social networks, keep interacting
  • Offer to COLLABORATE with them, pulling their voice into your content
  • Take the conversation offline, coffee, phone calls, handwritten thank you notes, etc.

What happens next is often magical. If you great something high value and email it to them, or if you create something together that is truly original, they’re extremely likely to share it, or better yet, mention it (and link to it) from something they’re writing.

When this happens, you just got a search optimization benefit from social media. And it’s durable, increasing the likelihood that you’re content will rank forever after.

That’s an example of how social media affects SEO. It’s an indirect benefit, but very very powerful…

Andy Crestodina Influencer Marketing

The recording of Andy’s keynote presentation can be found here.  Side note: Andy’s presentation is what inspired me to write this post. Thanks Andy!

He also did a second presentation called “Applied Analytics: Insights and Actions from 12 Reports.” Click the title to watch the video.

Jill Pollack, on “Feeding the Beast: How to Keep Your Content Flowing, on Point and Endlessly Entertaining”

Focus on the details when telling a story.

There’s nothing worse than having to listen to generalities and jargon about the state of Internet marketing across the global platform and the influx of impactful and non-impactful content that reaches multiple demographics including those in the 24-35 age range when searches are conducted with an unmet expected outcome.

BOO!

How about saying: “There’s nothing worse than searching for history of Thanksgiving and winding up with ads and fake listicles about pilgrims and Black Friday sales.”

(Also, “impactful” is not really a word!)

Jill Pollack Storytelling Content Marketing

You can watch Jill’s fantastic talk here.

Susan Silver, from her presentation “Great Content Starts Here: Positioning is More Than a Statement”

Before you write a single word of content, you need to take the time to stop and think hard about your company or product’s very specific value proposition. You need to be able to succinctly and clearly answer five questions in layman’s terms:
1. Who is your primary target
2. What is the unmet need your target has that you fill
3. What is your competitive set
4. What is your unique point of difference
5. What are three real, no BS reasons that your point of difference is believable

Make sure to check out Susan’s presentation slides on Slideshare here.

Keidra Chaney’s advice on “How to Start (and maintain!) a Blog That Doesn’t Stink”

Be thoughtful and intentional when it comes to thinking about your blog. Think more about providing meaningful conversation, cutting through the clutter of content that’s already out there, by providing a perspective that you can give.

Keidra Chaney blog writing tips

James Ellis speaking about his “13 Non-Obvious Content Promotion Tricks”

Content that you promote is wasted content, so you need to build systems that force you to promote your content. They don’t have to cost you a thing, but if you treat promotion as a “oh yeah, I guess I have to” add-on to content instead of an integral process, no one will ever hear your message.

You can see the slides from James’ talk on his Slideshare page.

Joel Harvey doing his best to encapsulate “Mobile Optimization Essentials: Tips for Increasing Mobile Conversion Rates” in 60 seconds

“You should never just make changes to your site without testing them. If you can’t or won’t A/B test the changes, at least make sure you have a rigorous, data-centric methodology for doing a pre-post analysis to assess the impact of any changes you make. Beyond that, I would encourage everyone to think deeply about what kind of goals they should optimize their mobile site for. What are the questions that people at the top of the decision making funnel will be asking? Identify those questions and make sure your mobile site answers them quickly and clearly.”

 

Joel Harvey Mobile Optimization

Watch Joel’s whole presentation on Orbit’s YouTube channel here.

My Content Jam Regrets

  1. I wish I had taken more pictures!
  2. It would have been great to have a clone so I could have attended all the breakout sessions. Choosing whose presentation to attend and whose to miss was BRUTAL. (Thank God for these 60-second recaps!)
  3. Not writing this round-up article sooner.
  4. Not being more purposeful in connecting with the other brilliant attendees.

Content Jam Andy Crestodina Orbit Media

Content Jam 2015 was incredible. I took 17 pages of notes, filled with great ideas and insights that will benefit my business in a major way. If you didn’t make it, I hope this post gives you a little taste of what you missed.

I also hope you’ll start following the speakers who’s advice you read above. Each of them will help you sharpen your content marketing “axe” to make you more effective at your craft.

Oh, and I hope to you see you Content Jam 2016!

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Start Your Freelancing Thing

Direct Response Copywriter

“No man, who continues to add something to the material, intellectual and moral well-being of the place in which he lives, is left long without proper reward.” ~ Booker T. Washington

These wise words have served as a guiding principle for the way I operate as an entrepreneur over the past 6 or 7 years. I’ve said it a number of times; it’s my goal to be the most generous guy you’ve ever met.

One of the main ways I’ve added value to the “place in which I live” is by creating piles of instructional content. After working tirelessly to develop my craft and become something of an expert in copywriting and direct marketing, I always tried to help other succeed along the way.

Sometimes I got paid, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I should have been paid, but wasn’t. But I always had my sights fixed on making valuable contributions to the business community I came in contact with.

I had the opportunity to talk about this process on Monique Welch’s awesome new Start Your Thing podcast. It was quite a privilege. If you’d like to hear more about my journey, check out Episode 1 here. The podcast is also available on iTunes.

I hope there’s something help you and inspire you to build your expertise and go start your own thing!

P.S. Along the lines of creating value, I came up with a variation on that clever “2 secrets of success” quote you’ve likely seen floating around the internet. Naturally, this advice won’t work for everyone, but I can tell you, it has worked for me.

If you’re willing to work harder than anyone else, or do a “common thing in an uncommon way” to quote Booker T. Washington once again, you probably won’t have to worry about too many people stealing your ideas and your customers.

secrets to success content marketingI’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you more of an info-hoarder or an uber-sharer?

 

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Escape from Retail Jail: A Copywriter’s Tale

expert Copywriter

People sometimes ask me how I became an expert at copywriting. My answer is always the same; I smirk a little and say “I decided to become one.” Naturally, the story is more involved than that, but that decision — followed by commitment — is the crux of the it.

I had the opportunity to explore this decision and how it impacted my life on Episode 7 of Jason Leister’s Incomparable Expert Podcast. This was a special treat for me because of the massive respect and admiration I have for Jason. (If there’s was an incomparable individual on the call, Jason was him.)

The conversation was very raw. Jason didn’t tell me what he was going to ask, and I’m not sure he stuck to any kind of prearranged series of questions or topics, either.

So we were all over the map, talking about

  • the fact that your ideal customers probably have characteristics similar to the average serial killer – and what it’s going to take to attract and keep them
  • what “providing value” really means
  • Jason’s patent-pending “village model of evolution” and why doing business in the vast expanse of the internet is reverting, in some ways, to the old neighborhood structure
  • when content creation is just plain stupid
  • just how elastic price is — and how to start banishing the notion that you have to work harder to be worthy of making more money from your mind

One of the big takeaways is the magical power of “showing up.” I realize that one of the main reasons I reached any level of success is because I decided to keep going. Even if you’re not very talented, there’s a good chance you’ll find your status elevated simply because you consistently came to work.

Jason said it well: “Anybody with a heartbeat COULD be consistent. But it’s rare, it’s as rare as gold.”

I’ll testify to that.

Steve Lahey said it was my best interview yet…

Steve Lahey tweets Copywriter

…and I’d love you to have check it out on the Incomparable Expert site.

 

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Psychologically-Proven Ways to Get Anyone’s Attention

get anyones attention creatively

I love this quote from Steuart Henderson Britt — “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does.”

The same is true for writing valuable web copy. If you can’t seize the attention of the people you can help, you might as well be winking at them in the dark.

Unfortunately, attention is one of the scarcest commodities in the world today.

There are 3 things that are psychologically-proven to draw the attention. Well, really there are 4, but the fourth one kinda goes without saying

  • danger
  • entertainment
  • curiosity
  • surprise, which is sort of a combination of the other three.

In my guest post on the Orbit Media blog, I discuss specific ways web writers can leverage danger, entertainment and curiosity to surprise their audiences and grab their attention. The article also includes some of the best examples of other writers putting these psychological forces to work.

Here are a few that didn’t make the cut:

Danger

How about this example from my inbox today:

danger attention bill bonner

Doom and gloom is a powerful motivator, always has been. And with the recent craziness in the financial markets, “danger” headlines abound.

Your wallet (which you are quite fond of) is in trouble, and if you just read this email, you’ll be prepared to protect yourself.

For a certain audience, headlines like this are nearly impossible to ignore.

Entertainment

Your camera advertisements can talk about frames per second, lenses and apertures — or you can shoot a video like this:

Did you watch the entire 4 minute video? Exactly.

The title of the video is pretty attention-grabbing, too: Locked in a Vegas Hotel Room with a Phantom Flex. The active verb (locked), the intrigue of “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”… and for camera fiends, the prospect of playing with a $100K camera. All juicy details.

(Note: Don’t get me wrong; you do have to talk about the features of your product or service. But, more often than not, you should lead by demonstrating the benefits, the transformation that your product creates.)

Curiosity

Bill Jayme’s famous direct mail envelop for Psychology today is a classic study in curiosity. Questions are always a good way to engage people, and a question like “Do you close the bathroom door even when you’re the only one at home?” is a doozy. It does more than force your brain to come up with an answer; it makes you wonder, “why do I do that?” and “what does that mean about me and my personality.

Bill Jayme Curiosity Attention

The teaser copy makes you want to find out more about the human mind — YOUR mind to be precise. And now that you’ve started thinking about it, your brain practically begs for more insight into the meaning of it all.

Masterful.

Read the full article, The Psychology of Attention: 10 Lessons for Web Writers from Deez Nuts  on the Orbit Media blog.

The most famous formula for selling, e.g. AIDA, starts with attention. Without attention, you don’t have a chance of selling, educating or effecting any kind of change for your readers. You are constantly competing for space and time in the mind of your competitors and every other distraction your should-be customers have to deal with.

This study on the psychology and application of attention will help give you an edge in this battle.

(You may also like to check out Attention-Jacking with Terry Crews)

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When Business Gets Bloody

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Writing was Hemingway’s profession. All he had to do to reach legendary status as a writer was bleed.

I don’t know what success looks like for you. I assume (which is usually a dumb thing to do) that you want to build a solid, profitable business, provide for your loved ones, gain the respect of your peers and attain some level of freedom. Maybe you hope to reach legendary status in your profession.

Take heed to Hemingway’s advice. All you have to do is approach your business or career with a willingness to bleed.

Pouring Out You

As a small business owner or solo professional, you probably know exactly what Hemingway means in the quote above. Your business is an extension of yourself. Day after day, you pour yourself into it. You’re committed to its protection and growth.

In many ways, identifying yourself so closely with your business makes you vulnerable. At the same time, that vulnerability also makes your business appealing:

Your values shine forth. The things that are important to you are the driving force behind the decisions you make. You’re willing to take a courageous stand for what you believe in, even when it doesn’t conform to the industry standards. This can have a polarizing effect; some people will love you and some will hate you. People who share your values and beliefs are more likely to become loyal customers and enthusiastic supporters than they would be if you “played it safe.”

Your “brand” is authentic. What the public sees is what it gets. And what they see is the real you — in the form of a product- or service-providing business. More than ever, consumers are looking for transparent brands to buy from. More than ever, inauthentic brands are shown for what they really are: hucksters more concerned with turning a profit than serving their customers.

It’s hard to connect emotionally (remember: emotion is critical to every purchasing decision) with brands that don’t seem authentic.

Your message has personality. Generic marketing stinks. Personality and uniqueness of voice will make it easier for your business to stand out from the robotic sounds of the boring majority. Your distinct voice will be more attractive to the customers you want to do business with most; your personality demonstrates that you’re one of them! You “get” them! The bond you form can be deeper, i.e., more personal, than anything that can be achieved with pricing or even product specs. I always refer to Apple because they’re a great example of this principle.

Your hard work pays off. If success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, how can you win without a willingness to bleed?

Not everyone who bleeds succeeds. But blood-letting usually precedes success.

Disclaimer: Pouring yourself into your business is no guarantee that you’ll succeed financially. It doesn’t even mean you’ll be fulfilled emotionally. All it guarantees is that you’re more likely to connect with the people you want to serve, partner with those closely aligned with where you are, and that if you do succeed, it will be on your terms, not someone else’s.

Good stuff from around the Web
Brand Your Business with Genesis Storytelling: Great 6-minute video from Tom Wanek on telling the “genesis story” behind your business

What Your Client Really Means by Price Objecting: “Your client just told you that they’re not interested in dealing with you, at least not on this subject. That’s not a price problem, that’s a relationship problem. And that’s a big deal.” Charlie Green tells us what’s really going on when a customer says “It costs too much.”

The Truth About Recycled Ads and Pickup Lines: What happens when you try to pour someone else’s blood into your marketing. Or dating. Great illustration from Chuck McKay.

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