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Beyond crazy, is fabulousness: Unforgettable quotes from Content Marketing World 2016

This title is a quote—and what a quote, huh? I nabbed it from a video about Google’s exploration into virtual reality. But it resonated with me because it was new; it was unique, and it was such a refreshing change to the same things I hear over and over again.

And so, this post is a tribute to the original, to the ideas that I hadn’t read a million times over. These are 9 of the most memorable quotes I heard from the speakers at Content Marketing World 2016 and why I think they’re worth sharing.

1)      “Beyond crazy, is fabulousness.”

Veronique Lafargue, Global Head of Content Strategy, Google Apps for Work @vlafarg

How fabulous is this quote? How fabulous is the word fabulousness? Half of my time as a writer is spent researching, and in the process of doing that, I read the same things over and over with just the slightest twist in words. So when I heard this quote use a word that I don’t usually have the pleasure of hearing, my ears perk up. I get that originality is hard. But here’s where you can start.

My suggestion: Start by translating the phrases you hear over and over into your own voice. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “Engage your audience with timely, relevant content.” When I see that being presented as the focal point of a slide, I think, Gee, this is brand new information. Instead of repeating that, I’d lead with a teaser like: “Here’s what you don’t want to do,” and then go into explaining why timely content matters in the body of the slide. Takes a little extra time, but the message is stickier with people.

2)      “You have to earn earned media.”

Nicole Smith, Global Digital Marketing Strategy Lead, Dell @nicoleatlarge

This here quote is doing a perfect job at stating the obvious. But the reason why it stuck with me is because of the repetition. Right? It’s so obvious that you have to earn earned media that it’s actually genius. Not only does it stress the fact that gaining authority in your field is playing the real long game, but this quote has that extra oomph because the answer figuratively slaps you in the face.

My suggestion: Not enough people take advantage of the content strategy: Tell people exactly how it is. Don’t go fancy with the jargon and the—that’s just noise. Save that for the meaty portion of your content. Simplifying down makes your punch line more memorable and easily shareable. And if you can manage it, use that creative mind of yours to do a little word play with the punch line.

3)      “Get to good enough.”

Ardath Albee, CEO, Marketing Interactions, Inc., and Author of Digital Relevance @ardath421

Oh, my god, it’s like she was reaching up to my inner writer and giving her a big, understanding, squishy hug. Ardath, as one of the 50 most influential people in sales and lead management, I’m going to believe you. Writers are some of the most egotistical people on this planet, and I can say this because I am one. We don’t want anything with our name on it to be half-assed. But our jobs don’t give us the time to be perfectionists, so sometimes good has to be enough.

My suggestion: Do not press backspace when you’re writing. Tell your inner critic to shut up.

4)      “We’re investing in more words that are simply just words.”

Matt Heinz, President, Heinz Marketing, Inc. @heinzmarketing

A lot of marketing companies are investing in all the mar-tech to help them with content creation and organization; great. But where you should be focusing is not pressuring your creatives to pump out content at quality’s expense. (Unless you work at an agency where time is a luxury; in that case—I’m sorry.)

My suggestion: Re-tweak content to repurpose content. When you write a white paper, that should mean several smaller content spawns that stem off of it. When you write several blog posts, that’s a great way to package a themed eBook. Words have a lot of meaning, but not when they say the same thing in a slightly different way. When you continually duplicate keys, they’ll gradually lose their ability to open doors. Think on that.


*I interrupt the flow of this blog post to bring you: A Dalek. Um, excuse me, do you mean to tell me that there were Whovians involved in the planning of this conference? Flock to me, nerds.* 

*Now, back to your regularly scheduled blogging.*


5)      "Social media is like driving past someone's house at 40 mph and trying to throw something in the mailbox. You're going to miss. But sooner or later, people are going to start recognizing your car." Matt Heinz

Is this not the best analogy you’ve ever heard? The more you think about it, the truer it gets.

My suggestion: Social media, and by extension content marketing, is playing the long game. There is no immediate gratification for the 99 percent, unless you’re, like, Pixar and you have an adoring fan base. This means social media is all about soft touches; don’t sell, build brand perception, and exert thought leadership. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll get there one day.

6)      “When you understand your ‘why,’ your ‘what’ has more meaning.” Michael Jr., Comedian, Author, and Director @michaeljrcomedy

No suggestion here and no explanation necessary. Waxing philosophic at a business convention makes me happy. Way to go, Michael Jr.

7)      “Orient your marketing team around the buying journey.” Jennifer Hamel, Executive Vice President, Demand Process Strategy Practice and Principle, ANNUITAS @jenniferharmel2

This might sound like the most repetitive of all the quotes so far, but trust me, it was one of the most enlightening pieces of advice I’d heard the entire time.

What Jennifer suggested was to do away with the typical content/digital/demand generation teams in marketing and instead orient teams around customer “engagement” and customer “nurturing.” The “engage” teams would create content that wasn’t heavily branded, all centered around education and thought leadership. The “nurture” teams would create more heavily branded content and work with sales and IT to develop content around products and solutions.

My suggestion: I called it here first! I think Jennifer Harmel is on to something. This engage-and-nurture organizational structure may not fly for established companies, but I think startups going forward should orient their marketing teams around this mentality. Why is this even worth listening to? Because the way you structure teams is important. An engage and nurture team structure would do away with silos and knowledge gaps. The skillsets you hire for to populate those two teams would complement each other far better, too.

8)      “Creativity is not a lifestyle, it’s a work ethic.” Jay Acunzo, Vice President of Platforms, NextView Ventures @jayacunzo

Preach, Jay, preach. Being creative is hard. We can’t all have our words stream onto paper like Faulkner. I have a lot of respect for Jay Acunzo, because not only did he provide great tidbits, by the end of his presentation, he was turning from a businessman presenting to motivational speaker preaching. I mean, I felt so empowered to create and be the best me I could be after his presentation.

My suggestion: Keep Jay’s quote in mind whenever you feel inadequate as a writer for not being able to pump out one blog post an hour. If you love to create, but find it hard to be creative, then keep an idea log and never triage your ideas. Creativity is a muscle, not an intrinsic gift.

9)      “The squirrel is the spirit animal of writers.” Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs @annhandley

Squirrels store nuts and gather curios like writers store ideas and gather content. Squirrels store their gems in holes; writers, we store ours in Evernote, Moleskins, on our arms.

My suggestion: Do as squirrels do, not as they eat. We come across ideas everywhere, and as writers and marketers, it should be our duty to squirrel the gems we find away for later use and repurposing. (I am not endorsing plagiarism, by the by.) I’m ashamed to tell you how many times I found a stellar piece of content and couldn’t find it later because I didn’t save it the first time around.

I’ll end with a freebee—and my personal favorite. “We read in silence. But we ‘hear’ the words.” – Ann Handley. This is a pretty big deal, alright? Uniqueness in the written voice is even harder to achieve than uniqueness in personality. But given the overabundance in mediocrity and undertaking to stand out, having a brand voice—internalized by every department in your company—is so, so important to putting up a unique, unified, and presentable front to the public.

Content Marketing World was a worthwhile conference; the Cleveland weather, however, made me want to sprint across the street, dive into Lake Erie, and listen to the sessions from the cooler waters of the Great Lake. I come away from this event empowered, pumped up, and ready to, as Jay Acunzo put it, JFD: Just Freaking Do It.

Did you like what you read? Do you want to see other spectacular content? I think you do.

The EDQ blog