Last week I attended HubSpot’s annual Marketing Conference called INBOUND. This year, over 14,000 marketing professionals, sales teams, and business owners from all over the world piled into the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to learn all about inbound marketing through inspiring speakers, inventive talks, educational sessions, hands-on activities, and chatty networking happy hours. The conference line-up boasted 30+ leaders, including the likes of story-telling pro Brené Brown, spastic and knowledgeable comedian and author Aziz Ansari, accidentally credible BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti, and award-winning author and speaker Seth Godin (plus, a brief night-cap with lady-forward comedian Amy Schumer!).
Throughout the convention, each speaker was preaching one major idea: Your content is king. Your company’s tweets, Facebook posts, videos, books, email blasts, and website musings are the most important pieces of information you share. And the Internet is already flooded with it. According to a session with Chief Content Officer of Marketing Profs Ann Handley, 76 percent of business-to-business organizations are planning on crafting and publishing even more new marketing content in 2016. On top of that, of all the content marketers and thought leaders are currently posting, only 30 percent of them are positive the stories and information they’re publishing is effective for their audience.
So, how do you truly stand out in this vast ocean of ineffective content? What are the keys to creating something noteworthy and useful to your listeners? Below are four strategic takeaways I learned at INBOUND to transform your marketing team into cool-content-creating gods and goddesses.
1. Be human.
In the past, marketing has been given a bad rap. Marketing was the people who rudely interrupted a nice family dinner by consistently calling your landline. Marketing was the people who constantly sent you mounds of junk mail and flyers that went straight into your garbage.
But what defines annoying junk from good content? Being human.
Emotion and authenticity are the keys to crafting memorable content. It’s neuroscience! Dr. Carmen Simon from Rexi Media said in her session that the human brain is more likely to recall information that is presented to you in a personable way, such as between human dialogue and story telling. Reach out to your audience, be conversational, and make them a part of your squad.
To create emotion-filled content, you need to understand the ins-and-outs of your spectators. On top of understanding what your audience reads or the situations they deal with in the office, it’s imperative to know them on a personal level. Through social research, get to know their lives, emotions, and language. As Chief Content Officer of Copy Blogger Media, LLC Sonia Simone asks, What do they want? What do they need me to clarify? What are they having trouble with? It’s up to you to listen to your customers, understand conversations they’re having, and create content FOR them. By applying these targeted lenses to your content, your pieces will resonate more and excel.
2. Bigger! Braver! Bolder!
Are we as marketers willing to choose courage over comfort? Soulful author and researcher Brené Brown consistently emphasized the importance of being courageous. It’s not an easy path, but if we truly want to make an impact on the lives of our readers, we need to be “willing to show up and be seen,” even when we have “no control over the outcome.” We have to be willing to be brave, take a stand, and accept that we might fail and get our ass kicked.
This idea flowed through the conference. From current HubSpot bloggers, to PR pros, to Chief Marketing Officers, all agreed now is the time to take a risk. So, go for it! Make a solid point! Be the first to publish a stat! As HubSpot marketer Corey Eridon added, if you show hesitation and lack confidence in your writing, it shows. And what you produce will just be mediocre. Take a standpoint. That’s the only way your creation can really stand out among the herds of words that are swamping your audience day-in and day-out.
3. Data, data, data.
Your audience is relying on you to be a credible source. They want to read, watch, or analyze something that will make them smarter! People are looking for authentic content and real life examples from subject matter geniuses. Post a helpful hint on one of your products. Answer a burning question customers consistently bring to your sales team. By addressing things your customers are dying to know with data and facts that your team has uncovered, your company becomes a reliable resource with interesting insight. Plus, if you’re the first to publish that stat, every other writer has to link back to you as a source. Awesome!
Not only is data necessary in creating thought-worthy content, but it's also needed to figure out exactly what your audience is looking for. Do some research and data-mining to figure out the main key topics about which your customers want to know as well as determine the keywords on which your company wants to be the go-to experts. Where do you currently fall? On average, how many people are searching for these topics? What is your domain authority on these topics, and can you compete with the other leaders? CEO and author Gini Dietrich recommended using tools like MozBar to figure out what your current stats are and to make a game plan on how to grow your web cred and SEO.
4. Share that shit.
Made a video? Upload it to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Yahoo Video, your blog, your website… everywhere you can! As BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said it, “Push the content to where people are.” That video only hits so many people on YouTube - stretch the content across multiple platforms to get the maximum amount of coverage.
On top of posting it to multiple outlets, be sure you’re crafting content that can take on many different forms. Transform written content into an infographic, an animation, and a SlideShare. In her session about driving SEO, Gini Dietrich drafted a mind map that she often uses when she’s at the first steps of launching a full-blown content campaign. Start with a key topic and branch out ideas on how you’re going to spread the word. What are you going to do? Where are you going to share it? What other forms will this take? Is it a blog post? A video? A book?
Post it, spread it, and make it easy for your audience and influencers to play with, comment on, remake, and share with their circles.
INBOUND was perfect amount of knowledge sharing, socializing with like-minded business people, and good ol’ fun. The HubSpot team built in just the right amount of networking sessions, learning opportunities, and time to explore everything their platform has to offer clients. To get an even more in-depth look at the conference festivities, download presentations from each of the speakers, or catch up on thoughtful conference-goer antics, follow the #INBOUND15 hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.