The Content Marketing Academy 2015 – so what was that?
I attended one of the best conferences I’ve been to lately, The Content Marketing Academy 2015. The conference took place over 2 days on 3 and 4 September. We were promised that we’d learn things that would take our business one year ahead of the competition – and the claim did not disappoint.
Day 1 consisted of a content marketing masterclass from Marcus Sheridan, who turned around the fortunes of his swimming pool business following the recession through blogging. I didn’t choose to go to the masterclass, but heard great things about it afterwards from those who went. Apparently Marcus had taken the time to really get to know the participants on a first name basis and understand their challenges and dreams. If I get the chance for a Marcus masterclass again, I’ll definitely take it!
As it happened, I had a hideous cold that week, so I thought I did well to attend all of day 2. Big thanks to Chloe who gave me extra tissues!
Here’s my summary of Friday’s events.
I quickly realised that this was not your average conference when Gavin, of Tree of Knowledge, took the stage. What we got was 45 minutes of stand up with some business insights thrown in. (Stand up comedy is one of Gavin’s many talents.) We were pretty much in stitches as Gavin told us stories from his former profession as a primary school teacher and his life experiences.
No one was allowed to be serious – we all looked silly playing a version of ‘Simon says’ and using our Jedi mind powers on a polo mint pendulum (you had to be there).
The main message was to rediscover the sense of fun and wonder that we have as children and somehow lose along the way as we grow up. Why do some people get so obsessed over trivial things, like putting exactly £30.00 of petrol in their car? It’s daft.As we get older we lose the wee piece of magic we're born with - @gavinoattes Click To Tweet
Sharing what we find out from the heart reconnects us with our inner child. There can be nothing more endearing than hearing your son say, “Dad, I know why they’re called eyeballs.”
There are proven business benefits to this approach. We recall 12-15% of what we read, but that figure jumps to 65% when we use a song, story, poem or rhyme to reinforce it.
Amusing mnemonics are an example. Need to learn the points of the compass? Never Ever Sing Westlife.
My personal favourite is to remember the planets in the solar system:
Many Volcanoes Erupt Mulberry Jam Sandwiches Under Norwegian Pines.
Why do you do what you do? There is only one good reason – and it’s not to make money or because someone else told you to do it.What is the only reason to do anything? To Make A Difference. - @gavinoattes Click To Tweet
Looking suitably Scottish in his kilt, Mike from Velocity Digital spoke about marketing your business through social media. It’s not such a friendly place as it was in 2011. The organic reach of Facebook has declined from 70% then to 2.5% now. So what should we do?
Mike’s main message was that we should still create great content for our social profiles but supplement it with well targeted ads. Ads should be used to drive traffic through to valuable content.Maintain the organic excellence but add paid. Now. - @mike_mcgrail #socialmedia Click To Tweet
Organic social media still does well for local businesses. His dad’s restaurant has 350 Facebook fans and one post reached 300. Fantastic timely content works well.
Mike cited some great examples of social engagement e.g. the response from Alfa Romeo to one fan who wrote a poem about the car he missed out on buying.
Ad considerations and advice
Check your organic analytics – if something did well, it could make a good ad.
Watch your ad placement – the top right of a page is “trashy”and your ad will likely be ignored.
Make your video ads look professional. Buy and use proper equipment.
Use outstanding images for your ads so they stand out. Make sure they are the right fit.
Think about the best time to post ads. Often that will be in commuter hours. For videos, after 8pm works well.
Give people something in return e.g. a loyalty card or a coupon.
Don’t respond to negative comments on ads, unless it’s something specific about the product or service.
You are the best person to market your business.
The slide presentation
Next up was Karen Strunks, speaking about branding. Karen told her personal story about her journey from the rat race to where she is today – a businesswoman working 16-20 hour weeks with clients she loves.
16 years ago Karen was working the 9-5. It turned her from a happy-go-lucky person to someone who was depressed and bedridden. She realised she needed to get out. She went on an entrepreneurial journey, working as a dominatrix, photographer and marketer, before finding her true passion: helping other entrepreneurs doing what they wanted to do.
Along the way she realised that to live her dream she had to be authentically herself. That was scary at first (read her blog post The Missing Piece to find out more). But it was also fantastically liberating. Most of us are too worried about what others will think to be ourselves.Go out and BE YOU. People will relate to you. - @karenstrunks Click To Tweet
Karen’s 3 Things To Do Daily
- Get your message out
Use whatever medium you like – blog, podcast, video, picture.
Be truthful. Share your wins and losses.
Help someone every day.
- Tell people what you have for sale
Add it to the end of your content.
Always include a call to action.
Give something valuable.
- Expand your reach
Call, text, email, tweet, have coffee – make contact with people.
Schedule time for this.
I asked Karen who her ideal client was now – she said it would be someone who is ready to leave their comfort zone and take bold, daring steps to the next level.
If she spoke to her 20 year old self now, she would advise her that:
You can do whatever you want to.
This was a really inspiring talk and it’s already turning some wheels in my mind about what I want to do next. If Karen’s message resonates with you, she has a Facebook group, Rebel Business Bitches, for people of like mind. She doesn’t accept any negativity. And no flowers or unicorns. 😉
Most people are nervous at networking events, and Stefan was no exception. At his first one he was “absolutely terrified”. When it came time to deliver his elevator pitch he started to panic and could only mumble his name and business.
Since that time he’s grown a lot more confident in his networking abilities. He had to improve fast when he was forced to make sales quickly in 2007.The networking event is the start of the conversation - @NoRedBraces Click To Tweet
It can be hard to start a conversation with a stranger – one good opening gambit is to ask where the tea is.
If possible, check who’s going and find out who you would like to speak with.
Record your elevator pitch on your mobile phone. Play it back and check it for timing.
Start With Why
Tell people the reason you’re in business and how you help others.
Put in a call to action: “To find out more, ask me for a 1:1.”
80% of folk don’t bother so anyone who makes the effort has the advantage.
Active follow up is through suggesting a call or meeting if the person is interested. This can build trust faster.
Passive follow up is through social media.
Both have their merits. Picking up the phone is powerful!
Stefan recommended personal video replies on Twitter. Here’s a video Stefan made for me. Made me feel special, for sure!
And don’t forget…It's not all about you. Be open to helping others. - @NoRedBraces Click To Tweet
Richard gave his advice on making customers out of our contacts. He’s a consultant to IT businesses and runs his own blog, Tubblog.
Most of us have large numbers of contacts though social media but are not capitalizing on them – the relationships stay weak. Richard recommended the book The Go Giver to learn how put others first.
Richard recounted a story from his own experience with “Chewing Gum Man”, a man he met through a networking event. The chap was feeling down as he felt networking was a waste of time. Richard listened to him and took the man’s card. A few days later, Richard chatted to someone who just happened to have a chewing gum problem! He passed on Chewing Gum Man’s details. This act of kindness was repaid six months later with a referral to Richard from the man with £16k of business.
Richard’s main tip is to avoid the standard LinkedIn connection message. Give someone a reason to connect and offer them some value. If you have met them, say when and where, and that you enjoyed talking to them.
Other tips are:
- Make notes on people’s profiles.
- Comment on others’ status updates.
- Leave a message just after you connect to be remembered.
- Check your connections’ connections for interesting people,
stalkresearch them and introduce yourself.
- Reconnect with people you haven’t corresponded with in a while.
Richard recommended Full Contact as way to manage contacts. It integrates with Google Apps and lets you see people’s social media updates.
Richard started blogging 10 years ago. He says you should always answer questions in blog posts. That is exactly what he did when I asked him afterwards about removing a LinkedIn connection (thanks, Richard!)
He finished with a great maxim:The way you deal with anybody is the way people perceive you deal with everybody - @tubblog Click To Tweet
Then, finally, the keynote, The Sales Lion, The Pool Guy himself, Marcus Sheridan took to the stage.
All I can say is… wow! The room went VERY silent and all thoughts doing anything other than listening went out of the window. I was scribbling down his insights as fast as I could – it was like gold dust.
The online impression you make is more important than ever. 70% of people make the buying decision before the zero moment of truth – the point where they contact you for the first time.
It’s not enough to have a great website – people need to find the information they need right away.
Marcus challenged us to write about the 7 Reasons Why People Might Not Do Business With You. Your task is to identify them and write a blog post on each one, showing you understand their concerns and can overcome them.
As Richard also said, you can write about every single question you’re asked in business and the answers.
Marcus talked about The Big 5 content types you can create.
One of them is price – you don’t have to list your prices explicitly but you should address pricing as a topic, and communicate the value you offer.
Here is an example: How Much Does a Fiberglass Pool Cost?
Counter-intuitively perhaps, you should write about your competitors, as your content will rank when people search for them!
Content marketing success factors
- Confidence – in communicating your product or service.
- Belief – especially at the top management level.
- Understanding – that it will take time and effort.
- Consistency – producing content regularly.
If someone tells you they don’t have time for content marketing, they’re really saying they don’t believe it’s worthwhile.I don't have time = I don't value it. - Marcus Sheridan, @TheSalesLion Click To Tweet Honest and transparent content is the greatest sales and trust building tool in the world. Period. - @TheSalesLion Click To Tweet
One question Marcus raised was this:
How many pages of your website would a potential customer be willing to read?
He found the answer is 30 pages. If someone reads that much, they’d buy 80% of the time.
What does that mean??
Write 30 blog posts, OR…
Send your prospect a 30 page ebook!
Marcus gave the example of one customer and his wife who read more than 500 pages between them. Selling to them afterwards was easy.
In 2007, Marcus made 230 sales appointments with his swimming pool business prospects and made 70 sales.
In 2013, after the company embraced content marketing, his salesman successor made 120 appointments and sold 95 pools.
This all frees up more time to do what we love. For Marcus that meant taking his teenage daughter travelling the world with him for three months. Result!
A big thanks to Chris Marr and his team for organising such a fantastic event.
We heard a diverse range of speakers who all delivered great value.
It wasn’t just about the learning, though, it was also about the networking and socialising. The layout of the room supported this, with us sitting round tables rather than in rows.
Through the lunch and two longer breaks, and the social event afterwards, I was able to connect with people I’d met before in real life (Chris, Edith), ones I knew through cyberspace (Denise, Chloe, Laura, Nicola, Grant, Alan, Mandy) and a number of new folk (Col, Colin, Gerry, Yvonne).
There’s a real sense that everyone’s business is moving to a new and exciting level.
Since the conference finished I have:
- Booked for TCMA 2016.
- Made an effort to be more social on social media – and had more engagement.
- Signed up for Karen’s 30 Days to Wealth and Abundance course.
- Got lots of new ideas for blog posts.
- Followed up with people I haven’t contacted in a while, including one prospect. 🙂
- Made a Twitter video reply!
Did you attend The Content Marketing Academy 2015 and if so, what did you think? Will you be along in 2016? I’d love to read your comments.