Voices of Content Jam 2018: Bolder, funnier and brutally honest
No one can answer these questions alone, least of all me. So I’m glad Molly Kipnis joined me this year for her first Content Jam. (It was my fifth.) She’s our ace social media coordinator and my consigliere on the StudioNorth blog, and she came up with a fresh way to recap everything we learned at this year’s event.
“Maybe we can do it Andy Crestodina-style,” she said. (Andy ends his emails with the sign-off, If you’d ever like to collaborate on anything at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out!) “We reach out to everyone we meet and quote them in the post. That way, at least we know it’ll get shared on social.”
Yahtzee! We asked each Content Jam speaker to share the best question they heard about their topics, and each attendee to name their top takeaway. One week and approximately 117 emails later, here’s our official Content Jam 2018 recap.
If the label fell off your content, would readers still know it was yours?
That was the question posed by best-selling author Ann Handley, CCO of Marketing Profs, during her opening keynote on “Bigger, Wilder, Braver Content.” A readily identifiable brand voice, she said, is an asset that constantly tells people “who you are and how you work.”
She showcased examples of “pathological empathy” from organic baby food maker Plum Organics, which creates content such as “Do Your Partner” about key issues in new parents’ relationships, and billionaire investor Warren Buffet, who writes his eagerly anticipated annual shareholder letters as if his entire audience is his sister Doris.
- Find three specific adjectives that best define you and your brand. You can’t cheat and use words like “trustworthy” (table stakes) or “revolutionary” (eww). But instead be as specific and descriptive as possible.
- Create guidelines about how to apply each adjective, and where, and how, and when.
- Apply it consistently. Post that chart or those guidelines EVERYWHERE.
Funny you should ask
Copywriter Lianna Patch, owner of Punchline Conversion Copywriting, gave a breakout session on “How to Be Funny (Even If You’re Not): Improv-Inspired Copywriting Tips for Better Retention.” Along with great tips on where and how to incorporate humor into your content, her best advice was about the “why”—a funny, offhand remark makes people think you’re in control.
From idea to video to new clients
Sarah Jo Crawford, founder of Sparkworth, made a compelling case in her morning breakout session that everyone—yes, even you, no matter how camera-shy—should use video to answer a question or solve a problem you know your audience has. Once Sarah started publishing her own videos to LinkedIn, customers began contacting her saying “I don’t know what you can do for me, but I want to work with you!”
Content Jam is both inspiring and practical. You’ll come away re-energized with an overwhelming amount of new information that you can start implementing today.
What makes a great storyteller?
Podcaster Shannon Cason, host of Homemade Stories and The Trouble, delivered “Brutally Honest Storytelling” from the first seconds of his presentation, talking about the “fifth time I lost everything” and “playing blackjack with my wife, my daughter and my condo.” Inspired by Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing, he shared his 10 rules for authentic podcasts, and reminded us, “businesses are personal.”
“Boldly swipe their words.”
What do you do with the mad that you feel?
When you feel so mad you could bite?
You might recognize these lyrics from Mister Rogers’ song “Mad That You Feel,” but Fred Rogers didn’t write them. They came from a real question a child once asked him, which is why they resonated so strongly with his audience.
Personas you’ll actually use
Mary Garrick, VP of Brand & Creative at Upward Brand Interactions, showed us “How to Build Data-Driven Personas You’ll Actually Use.” Combine well- scripted interviews with social data-gathering tools and email data intelligence, and your insights into “what they want and why they don’t have it” will inform creative that gets dramatically better results.
Case studies = human stories
Joel Klettke, Founder of Business Casual Copywriting, shared his “Case Study Blueprint” for turning customer success stories into sales. Klettke outlined his process for capturing and capitalizing on excellent results, from clearly defining your strategy to getting client buy-in to applying the finished study to every segment of the sales funnel. “The stories you tell,” he reminded us, “will be the stories you attract.”
A top 1% content strategy
Andy Crestodina, CMO & Co-Founder of Orbit Media, shared his guidelines for being better than 99% of your competitors at deploying content strategy for lead generation. (As always, he made the tactics sound easy—nothing you can’t do yourself without sufficient time, focus and initiative.) These include:
- Publishing your content mission, which makes you three times more likely to succeed
- Conducting original research—identifying what people in your industry “often say but rarely support,” and
- Collaborating with Influencers who have already built the audience you’d like to reach. “If you’re not making friends, you’re doing it wrong.”
Senior Copywriter Jeff Segal writes blogs and social content for several SN clients, while crusading tirelessly against the words provide, quality, strive and utilize.
Social Media Manager
Molly is the Social Media Manager at StudioNorth and the only currently employed redhead. Things Molly likes: theatre, dogs, french fries, and the color pink. Things Molly doesn't like: birds (especially pigeons), the cold, and writing in the third person.