5 takeaways from Content Marketing World 2014

Read on for insights on storytelling, personas, marketing’s future and more.

This year’s Content Marketing World conference was full of break-out sessions, keynote addresses (Kevin Spacey presented one) and networking with some of the most brilliant minds in the industry.

How do you choose just five takeaways? Here are my picks:

1. Focus on storytelling.

Several keynotes discussed storytelling, particularly as part of larger business concepts.

Marketing has moved beyond storytelling simply for storytelling’s sake. We now use it to tell an organization’s vision. We are also supercharging it with nuances like buyer personas, building brand relevance and content strategy. Telling a brand’s story becomes part of a strategy to promote the brand on multiple platforms in new ways.

2. Create personas.

When conducting a content audit or rebrand, consider the personas you want to address in your messaging.

In her talk, “Avoiding Content Chaos: A Phased, Repeatable Approach,” Leigh Blaylock from Red Hat talked about creating buyer persona decks to address each persona that will consume your content. The priority is to set up a dialogue so various personas can interact.

3. Focus on brand attachment.

In her talk, “Can You Measure Storytelling,” JoAnn Sciarrino of the University of North Carolina introduced us to brand attachment.

To measure brand attachment, look at the emotional connection between humans and brands. Since emotions sit in the same part of the brain as decision-making (the limbic system), it makes sense that marketers should strive for emotional attachment.

We must influence customers when and where they make decisions. Part of this is finding our customers’ passions. Once we make that connection, they are on their way to experiencing what Sciarrino described as loving better than a like, share or tweet: brand attachment.

4. Aim for propinquity.

The Content Marketing World team threw a big party one evening where I networked with some great people. Two of them introduced me to a new term: propinquity.

Propinquity: By having proximity to someone or something, you are more likely to have a propensity towards them.

For example, because you see your neighbor frequently, you are much more likely to date or become friends (read: attached).

You can see what this means for marketers: You need to be where your prospects are. You will attract them by proximity, and hopefully turn them into lifelong customers.

5. Be part of marketing’s evolution.

In his keynote, “Experience: The 7th Era of Marketing & the Rise of Content Management,” Robert Rose pointed out that marketing is always evolving: “The evolving nature of what we’re in right now is what we are a part of,” he said. He called on us to be the “alchemists” making the change.

He said we should do this with three ideals in mind:

  1. Content marketing is working well-in pockets.
  2. People are challenging marketing to do more for customer experiences.
  3. Marketing’s identity and future must change.

Thus, he invited us to be the engines driving this change-“that the customer is heard and we have empathy for how they feel.” This is part of how content marketing will evolve.

One of the best quotes came from Scott Stratten’s keynote. Stratten gave great advice on how marketing is ever-evolving: “We’re so focused on being first, but we should focus on being right first.”

I agree. Let’s do this.

Christine Oneto is a PR specialist who has been a blog editor as well as a campaign creator and PR consultant. A version of this article originally appeared on the Meltwater Public Relations blog.

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