Content marketing show: key takeawaysThe content marking show took place in Brighton on November 5 – a fabulous, free event, where hundreds of industry insiders gathered from across the country. There were 13 inspiring talks over the day and plenty of time for networking too.

The Red Rocket Media team came away bursting with ideas, thanks to the inspiration of so many great speakers. Here’s a run-down of some of the highlights.

Mark JohnstoneMark Johnstone

The first talk of the day came from Mark Johnstone of Distilled.  Mark’s talk ‘What content marketers can learn from advertising’ offered plenty of insight into taking the pain out of creating compelling content ideas.

Looking at data and understanding the customer – using an advertising mindset – is important for marketers, Mark noted. An understanding of customer insight, product truth and competitor insight helps marketers develop ideas. These should then be resonant to the customer and relevant to the brand, but still help brands stand apart from the competition.

A great tip from Mark was use the internet as your focus group. It can be a great way to find out what your customers care about, as well as finding out exactly what they think of your brand and competitors.

It’s not about the product, though. Mark said to think of marketing pioneers Red Bull, which is now synonymous with adrenaline pumping activities, despite none of its content mentioning caffeine drinks. Mark is quick to point out that we can’t all be Red Bull but that the same principles apply.

These were his ten tips for getting better ideas:

  1. Learn about the thinking behind the ads
  2. Mine the web for insight
  3. Think laterally about your brand
  4. Try to force the connections
  5. Actively disengage by removing yourself from the process
  6. Jump-start the lightbulb – brain dump!
  7. Verify your ideas – make sure it’s sticky and shareable before going too far
  8. Iterate – it doesn’t have to be a linear process
  9. Start small
  10. Practise – practise taking an ad apart

Max WilsonDr Max L. Wilson

Next up was Max Wilson from the University of Nottingham who was full of insight in his talk ‘Why people favourite things – Tweet usefulness, style and favouriting behaviour’. We were excited to see an academic on stage, offering an outsider’s perspective to what can often feel quite an inward-focused exercise.

Dr Wilson pointed out the important differentiation between the two different types of tweeters – informers and me-formers. Informers keep their followers and gain more followers quickly, whereas me-formers (people who tweet about their dinner) have fewer followers and lose them quickly.

He highlighted what makes tweets useful; personal experience, entertainment factor, shared sentiment, timeliness and correct location all help. Introspective, poorly constructed, subjective, disagreeable content all turns people off.

One tip for creating likeable content which really resonated with us (and most of the audience) was ‘add a kitten’. Dr Wilson said that if you squeeze a kitten into your campaign then you’re onto a winner.

He also discussed tone and how businesses mimic their audience – he cited as examples how Guardian Football doesn’t include emoticons, whereas Mirror Football adopts a more banter-led approach. This is in line with the accommodation theory (we knew an academic would bust out a good theory) which says that people adapt their communication style to suit the receiver. See the good doctor’s slides here.

Emma Dunn

Emma Dunn of Caliber had a fabulously named talk: ‘How to ideate like a boss’.  Sometimes we all struggle for ideas, and Emma covered a number of brilliant tips for coming up with fresh inspiration, combining scientific theory with practical tips. Some of Emma’s tips included:Emma Dunn

  • Messy desks are actually better for creativity. However once you’ve come up with the ideas and need to elaborate on them, a tidy desk is better.
  • ‘Morning people’ are generally more creative in the afternoon or evening. Night owls are more creative in the morning. But as Emma phrased it, really it’s ‘whatever rocks your socks’.
  • Exercise more and have a desk plant.
  • Put pen to paper – literally. Actually writing things down makes a much stronger connection with the things in your head.
  • Brainstorming can work better if you get people to individually come up with ideas before bringing them together. Otherwise, in a group with large egos (and voices), the ideas brought forward by the loudest tend to be the ones on which the group will fixate.

Hannah WarderHannah Warder

Hannah Warder of took an ironic look at ‘How to guarantee a 0% response rate from blogger outreach’. An avid lifestyle and food blogger, her top tips of what not to do included:

  • Start emailing everyone without researching who you are contacting
  • Make the blogger do all the work for little gain
  • Send emails and press releases with sexist statements or bold claims
  • Have a go at placing blog posts while you’re at it

So how to get it right? According to Hannah it’s important to know why you are doing it and what goals you want to achieve.

You need to know you are reaching out to – does the particular blogger accept such communication? Do they publish content which suits what you are trying to sell? Also, get to know your influential bloggers and keep track of them.

Be helpful and friendly when you communicate with bloggers. Bloggers want to be loved – show them appreciation and make their life easy and they are more likely to support you. Then, always make sure you follow up.

A good relationship with an influential writer can pay off repeatedly over time. You can find Hannah’s slide deck here.

Laura CrimmonsLaura Crimmons

Laura Crimmons from Branded3 had some useful tips for implementing an audience engagement strategy using content. She highlighted the importance of using tools such as Google Analytics to dig down in to specific demographics and use social listening tools like Brandwatch for finding out where different interests lie. She also argued that forums can actually be a really good place to look for what people are saying about your brand.

Most importantly, Laura reminded us that we should join conversations and not just start them – after all we have two ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we speak. Her slides can be found here.

Steve MastersSteve Masters

Our very own Steve Masters was on stage straight after lunch, offering storytelling tips for you to remember remember (clever Fireworks Day pun!). No cute cat pictures in his slides – but plenty of cult film references, oh and some free FizzWiz thrown to the audience.

Steve reinforced the importance of repetition for sticking in peoples’ minds and how the key to memorable storytelling is to always leave your audience wanting more. His tips included:

  1. Stretch it out
  2. Provoke some thought
  3. Create familiarity
  4. Make them want more
  5. Make your messages memorable using catchphrases, highlights and cliffhangers

Steve’s presentation can be found here.

The best of the rest:

  • Be flexible when it comes to editorial calendars. If something newsworthy comes up, just delay what you already have outlined – James Perrot, Zazzle
  • With video, don’t be afraid to copy others, just make it your own with your content – Tom Bailey, Shy Camera
  • When it comes to images: macro detailing, close crops and visceral imagery provokes the best response – Nadia Barmada, Getty Images