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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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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Are You Really “Connecting” with Your Audience?

Connecting Content Copy

Forgive the alliteration. It might get a little crazy in here.

Connection. Conversation. Content.

Eleven months ago to the day, I did a Google Hangout with Roger Courville. Roger’s question to me was “How do you connect with people?” It’s a topic I feel like pretty well-equipped to answer.

Roger, on the other hand, is the KING of connectorship (which is a term he coined). He’s a genius in every sense of the word.

During this 50-minute conversation, we talked about my dark past in retail management, how that led me to explore the copywriting and how even in that stifling environment, people can connect with each other through content, and giving.

We also discussed the forces that make copywriting and content marketing connectors, from person to person, business to customer and business to business.

This hangout will benefit you because you’ll learn

  • what makes deep connections happen
  • how to be more customer-centric, even when time are hard
  • why giving is so important, and how to be more intentional about your giving
  • the various forms content can take, in real life as well as online
  • the best advice on the planet for copywriting that really connects
  • and plenty of other stuff.

It was a fun conversation with a good friend I don’t spend enough time with (and one of my all-time favorite clients). Have a look:

We recorded this conversation the day after my then 7 year-old son broke his arm. In all the hustle and bustle, I forgot to share this with you sooner.

I recommend you also check out Roger’s website and look him up on social media. He’s one of the smartest guys I know, and also one of the coolest and most generous. You’ll like him. More importantly, you’ll learn from him.

(FYI, Brother Roger wrote THE book on how to create webinars that rock — in 2009.  His thinking is always cutting edge, yet practical. As I said, he’s the king of connectorship.)

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Need Your Content to Sizzle and Sell? Here Are Some Tips

Write Content that Sells

Just in case you missed it…

A couple weeks ago, Jeff Zelaya and I did a Google Hangout on Air to talk about “How to Write Content that Sizzles and Sells.” There’s a ton of mediocre content out there, both online and in print. We talked about getting ideas, honing your craft and writing stuff that doesn’t suck.

Because you’ll never bore anyone into buying, subscribing, or even reading your next paragraph.

Check out the replay:

Jeff also wrote a terrific recap of the Hangout at 13 Tips to Make Your Content Sizzle and Sell on Triblio’s blog, distilling the interview down into 13 actionable (and tweetable!) steps. Smart writing on his part, without a doubt.

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How to Write Sizzling Content

Sizzling Content and Copy

“If the woman howling from the backseat of Agent Carson’s black SUV weren’t already dead, I would’ve strangled her. Gladly.”

So begins Darynda Jones’ latest book. But the book is captivating even before the opening line. The title instantly sends your mind on a journey of curiosity.

Seventh Grave and No Body.

To be fair, I haven’t read anything other than the first page of the book. The book cover caught by attention yesterday at Barnes & Noble. My imagination isn’t ready to stop thinking about where the story might go.

That’s what sizzling content does. It grabs your attention and puts it in a headlock. It activates the movie screen in your brain and reaches down to pull on the ol’ heartstrings, at least a little bit.

This is not the kind of writing we were taught in school. The style we mastered between K and 12 is almost the polar opposite, when you think about it: matter-of-fact, even clinical in it’s lack of emotion. Without personality. Yet, a large percentage of business owners and marketers carry this dry, academic style over into their attempts at sales and marketing.

Then they wonder why no one opens their emails.

Now, I know YOU don’t have that problem. But there’s a good chance that you feel like your writing could be stronger. You’d like for your content to be more persuasive. You want your marketing to pack more punch in whatever media you’re using.

If so, I hope you’ll join Jeff Zelaya from Triblio and me for “How to Write Content that Sizzles and Sells,” a Google Hangout On Air tomorrow (Monday, November 17) at 1 Eastern. We will discuss turning your articles, blog posts, video scripts, etc., into “page-turners” your  potential clients will have a hard time ignoring.

Check out the Event page for more details. You can even ask content marketing, writing or persuasion questions and we’ll try to answer them.

Hope to see you there!

P.S.  I want to quickly emphasize a takeaway we learn from the book I mentioned in the beginning of this post.

The title Seventh Grave and No Body, is pretty interesting all by itself. Even more than the words themselves, this title is engrossing because of the mental associations the reader carries while he reads. The title doesn’t mention anything about crime scenes, tricky murder investigations or elusive serial killers. You read that into the words on the page. The pictures created in your mind have more to do with your own personal experience than anything else.

The meaning of a word is greater than its definition.

Leveraging the power of mental associations is an advanced writing technique we’ll be covering during the Hangout. You’re not going to want to miss this.

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