4 Takeaways, 50 Hot Cars and 1 Zombie Survival

The Integrated Marketing Forum is an annual conference focused on guiding organizations towards developing a well-integrated marketing program. Each year the team at Rhythm Interactive focus on one core area of integrated marketing. This year’s focus was on developing a content marketing strategy. The keynote speaker was the king of content marketing, Joe Puluzzi of Content Marketing Institute fame and author of the book Epic Content Marketing.

image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/hryckowian/
image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/hryckowian/

Having attended a plethora of conferences in quite a few locations this was by far one of the coolest locations for a conference I have been to. The surroundings were apropos of the theme of being king of the road by creating epic content. Held in the middle of the Marconi Auto Museum in Tustin, CA we were surrounded by 50 of the most breathtaking luxury sports cars imaginable. From a pair of hand built Ferraris owned by the Sultan of Brunei to the ultra 70’s sexiness of the yellow convertible Ferrari built for Cher to the stainless steel awesomeness of the Delorean the surroundings resonated even for non car geeks.

Even more inspiring were the excellent speakers lined up to educate about the success of great content marketing. Fantastic speakers such as Joe Puluzzi, David Matahia of Hyundai USA, Jay Acunzo of Hubspot and Mark Fidelman of Raynforest delivered decks filled with high level strategy as well as rubber meets the road tactical examples of the power of content marketing. Every presentation was filled with great actionable content and strategies across a wide range of industries and brands.

Here are the four key takeaways from the IMF 2013 content marketing forum:

  1. 1.    Epic Content Can Be Anything From Zombie Cars  to Rock-umentories to Infographics

Mention content marketing and most business people and marketers think of eBooks, whitepapers, slide shares or blog posts. And while those are certainly exceedingly effective and deliver strong ROI a resounding message that came through from many examples was that epic content could be almost anything. From Hyundai’s The Walking Dead Zombie car to the Rolling Stone’s live streaming a concert to a micro focused heart valve portal to educational infographics on reaching influencers. Epic content is content so great you want to share, swear or care. So break out of the purely text trench and start thinking about repurposing your content and delivering it in new and refreshing ways. Slice and dice that turkey and drive up its impact.

  1. 2.    Great Content Performs Greatly (When you Market it)

As with any marketing strategy creating something great tends to more often deliver great results. In creating content your focus must be on creating great content or what Joe Puluzzi calls “Epic Content”. Seek to create high quality, high impact and valuable content that focuses on your target customer’s wants not just needs.

Jay Acunzo from HubSpot summed this up perfectly:

“Quality content should seek to resonate with, rather than just reach customers.”

Presenters gave compelling evidence of their quality and customer resonating content performing greatly. The focus was not on “going viral” but on being valuable, which is a much better play with stronger ROI. Good advice was to develop customer personas and build content towards that to achieve higher resonance and relevance. However the most important part of any content marketing strategy is to market the content! Creating great content only gets you so far, it is the effective omni-channel marketing strategy leveraging social media that makes good content epic.

  • 3.    Stop Interrupting What They Want and become What They Want

David Matathia of Hyundai USA said this and it was one of the most impactful statements of the whole conference. It summed up the essence of the modern marketers approach towards resonating and engaging rather than interrupting and annoying. It was embedded in every approach that Hyundai and the other companies talked about.

Hyundai exemplified this approach with their Walking Dead zombie car content marketing campaign which involved their cars in the TV show, them building an actual zombie survival car and showing it at events like Comic-Con and even building a Hyundai zombie survival car building app. Instead of just creating ads, posts or news-jacking they created epic content that resonated and reached their target customer.

4.    Create a WHY For Every Marketing Channel

Epic content marketing is content that resonates with your customers. However it also has to actually reach them. Too often marketers take the shotgun zombie killing approach and figure that if they just spray enough pellets into the hordes that eventually some of it will stick. Not ever content or marketing campaign works on every marketing channel. What absolutely kills it on YouTube may get trampled to death on Google+.

Joe Puluzzi said:

“Without a strategy we too often resort to just producing MORE content. Instead create a content marketing mission statement and stay focused on it.”

Sit down and craft a content marketing mission statement that adheres to your brand image and reinforces your brand story. This will help get your content on the same page as your company and align their goals. (ROI and KPI’s follow easily now!) Create a why? For every marketing channel from social media channels like Twitter, LinkedIn and Slideshare to events, PR and even print. If you have not clearly answered why you should be using that channel then don’t use it. Few things are more dangerous than RAM (Random Acts of Marketing). Social Media is becoming the driver for a great many organization’s marketing success in modern times but it needs a comprehensive strategy and onmi-channel integration to work well.

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