Data torture and scary mice: The top 17 slides from Content Jam ’17

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November 2017

Every time I attend Content Jam, I walk away feeling:

  1. Humbled by all the revealed content marketing wisdom I long to put into practice
  2. Inspired to share the day’s insights and “a-ha” moments with my friends and coworkers
  3. Well-fed and slightly buzzed from the excellent after-party

I can’t even begin to tackle #1 in a single blog post, and #3 can only be experienced firsthand. But here’s my attempt to accomplish #2—sharing 17 of my favorite moments from the presentations that made Content Jam 2017 such a great experience.

Slide #1

I should mention that these slides aren’t ranked from my favorite slide to my 17th favorite—their order is more about me trying to recap the day with some degree of coherence.

That said, I love this slide, because it embodies what makes Content Jam so special. It comes from Andy Crestodina’s presentation on Super Advanced Content Marketing and SEO, and it reflects his philosophy about collaboration as a key content marketing strategy. It also mirrors his attitude about just about everything.

Slides #2 and #3

See what I mean? Trust me, Crestodina’s best practices are worth stealing—though I should add that they’re way more challenging than he makes them out to be—but they’re free to anyone who reads his blog (or attends Content Jam, of which his company Orbit Media is the driving force).

Slide #4

Get it? Michael Aagaard’s closing keynote—Your Brain is Lying to You— was a funny yet penetrating look at how what we think we know can block us from connecting with our audience’s reality.

Slide #5

For instance, 19th century Londoners were convinced they could revive drowning victims with tobacco smoke enemas.

Slide #6

In the 21st century, we’re more likely to blow smoke up people’s rear ends by interpreting data to mean whatever we want it to. Aagaard stressed the importance of opening our minds to data that might prove our own preconceptions wrong.

Of course, that assumes you know how to interpret the data in the first place…

Slide #7

In his breakout session, The Pragmatist’s Approach to Marketing Analytics, Justin Rondeau served up a welcome reminder to any content marketer who’s felt his eyes glaze over upon viewing screen after screen of mind-numbing Google Analytics tables.

Slide #8

How to derive value from all that data? Start with asking the right questions, then enlist someone (not me, unfortunately) who knows how and where to find the answers. “Analysis without interpretation is cowardice,” Rondeau cautions. “You have to have something at stake.”

Slide #9

A breakout session from Tim Riesterer—To Challenge or Not to Challenge? Matching Your Content to the Moment—demonstrated what you can accomplish with actual data derived from asking actual users actually relevant questions. The issue Riesterer and his team wanted to resolve: What is the single best strategy for getting someone to change whom they do business with?

This slide reveals the deadweight of the status quo that keeps people from changing, and some tactics that can break the chains.

Slide #10

Here’s the complete model Riesterer recommends. What I love is that it starts with an unconsidered need. Too many marketing plans start with delivering what customers say they want—typically “quality,” “value” and “reliability”—and end up with content that begs to be ignored.

But when you start with a need customers don’t even know they have, you’ve destabilized their base of preferences and made a switch exponentially more likely.

This thinking is similar to the Challenger Sales Model we’ve been helping our clients’ sales teams develop at StudioNorth, but it’s every bit as effective for content marketing. Sales and marketing on the same page? Look out.

Slide #11

Nancy Harhut shared some fun data of her own in her ABCs of Persuasive Copy, a presentation that reinforced this old-school copywriter’s belief that shrewd word choice is worth paying more for.

Case in point: A test group was shown the same video of a car accident and asked to estimate the speed of the cars. Viewers who were asked how fast the cars were going when they crashed estimated a speed 28 percent higher than viewers who were asked how fast the cars were going when they contacted.

Slide #12

I’m always pushing for long-text buttons. Here’s why: Show me outfits I’ll love beat Sign up now by 124 percent.

Slide #13

But here’s the one that (inexcusable pun alert) blew me away. Ever wonder if personalizing email content is worth the extra cost? Research has shown that people are more likely to donate to hurricane relief efforts when their names start with the same letter as the name of a recent hurricane. That’s just one letter—imagine the impact when you use their full names.

Slide #14

Here’s a data point every content marketer should put in every new business pitch: In 2017, 70 percent of the buying decision is made before the prospect talks with the company. That’s up from 20 percent in 2007, so we’re talking about a fundamental shift in the dynamic between buyers and sellers in just the last decade.

In her session on Creating Content That Converts, Joanna Wiebe exhorted content marketers to exploit that new dynamic. Her radical thesis: “We should create content as if our primary goal was to make money.”

Slide #15

Exhibit #1: The classic “They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano” ad that deploys many of the same tactics that made Buzzfeed a billion-dollar company almost a century later. Wiebe champions long-form copy (like this post) that unashamedly builds to a call to action and asks for the sale (not remotely like this post). Or, as one the early giants of advertising framed it…

Slide #16

Sometimes I forget what an opportunity every blog post or email is. Readers give me five, six, maybe even 10 minutes of their attention, all so I can unleash my most terrifying mice to roust them from their comfort zones toward my client’s mousetrap.

Slide #17

My final favorite slide of the day? No slide at all. That’s what Gini Dietrich used to accompany her stirring opening keynote, How to Shapeshift into Your Ideal Life. No slides, no visuals, no props. She simply spoke for 45 minutes straight about the three-plus years it took to adopt her foster daughter, and no one in the room missed a word.

Her story informed her thesis—the need to choose an options-based outlook that envisions an ideal future over a solutions-based approach that sees only the present.

What does that mean? She described a friend who’s been offered a buyout from a job he’s been bored with for years. Concerned with giving up his young family’s security, he’s ignoring all the options for his possible future the buyout can make possible. Her recommendation? Say “yes” and figure out the details later.

“You will give up routine, stability and comfort,” she said. “But once you decide, nothing can stop you.”

Nothing can stop the positive vibes from another terrific Content Jam, either.

Jeff Segal

Jeff Segal

Senior Copywriter

Senior Copywriter Jeff Segal writes blogs and social content for several SN clients, while crusading tirelessly against the words provide, quality, strive and utilize.

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