Content Jam: life, marketing, and zombie TV

Another Content Jam has come and gone, and again I’m left with so many great insights. I was really impressed with the diversity of the speakers this year.

The morning and afternoon keynotes spoke to some big picture issues we should all consider, and the other sessions were filled with action items we can get started on right away.

Here are a few of my favorite takeaways from this year’s event.

Gini Dietrich | How To Shape Shift Into Your Ideal Self

I have seen Gini Dietrich speak on a number of occasions. Both her PR firm (Arment Dietrich) and blog (Spin Sucks) are T60 customers, and more importantly, she’s become a good friend.

Which is why I was so excited to see her and hear this presentation. She’s always good with the x’s and o’s when it comes to communication strategies, but this presentation was totally different and in many ways very personal.

She talked a lot about solution-based routines versus option-based routines. My take… when many of us face tough decisions we tend to use the most immediate solution. Gini argues we need to take some time to examine our options before making a decision on a solution.

Instead of jumping to a quick solution, she challenged everyone to:

  • Imagine your future
  • Create a routine to realize that future
  • Do something small every single day
  • Be agile

It makes total sense. Set a goal, make a plan, do the work, be willing to change… this is stuff we should all be doing.

I especially like the idea behind looking at options first. It’s so easy to jump to the quick solution and clear the issue off your plate. We shouldn’t do that. We really should think about our best options before making a decision.

I try to do this when producing videos. When some sort of issue arises, my first reaction is to solve it as quickly as possible. However, this can lead to other complications down the road if it doesn’t end up being the right course of action.

What I do is take a deep breathe and doing my best to think things though. I’ve even had customers ask me on occasion what I’m doing as I simply stand there considering my options.

“I’m just thinking things through,” I tell them. While it can seem painful to give-up time to wait for a solution, I have found taking five minutes to think things through can often save you time in the long run.

Gini totally nailed it!

Roberto Blake | YouTube Marketing for Businesses and Brands

I met Roberto Blake at this year’s Content Jam and walked away super-impressed. He’s a fellow video guy, so considering I run a Milwaukee video production company, no surprise the two of us were speaking the same language.

His presentation focused on using YouTube as a marketing channel, and even though I’m pretty well-versed in this area, Roberto provided some stuff I’d like to work on.

Specifically, I liked a lot of what he talked about regarding call-to-actions and how to position them in and around your videos.

CTAs can be…

  • Spoken in the video itself
  • Included as a visual component in the video itself
  • Posted as a YouTube Card
  • Added to the YouTube description
  • Written in the comments, then pinned to the top

Roberto also suggested uploading the video as “Unlisted” and doing all of your optimization before making it public.

This is really smart. YouTube bases which videos it promotes based on things like number of views in the initial hours the video is public, so it makes sense to have all of your optimization done before it is sent to the masses.

Joanna Wiebe | Creating Content That Converts

Joanna Wiebe made a really big impression on me. The message I received? I’m doing it wrong.

Okay, maybe I’m not getting content marketing entirely wrong, but I definitely need to broaden my perspective.

I think my personal experience probably mirrors that of many content marketers. When I produce a piece of content, I want it to be the best content I can produce. I want it to be super helpful to the person looking at it. And I want the readers/viewers to walk away feeling good about T60 Productions.

Now? Well, now I kind of hear Joanna in my head saying, “Don’t forget, content needs to sell.”

She’s absolutely right. It’s great to educate people, but we still need to make money.

The whole reason we’re engaging in content marketing is to help us make sales, and yet many of us are afraid to ask for the sale… no matter how that might look.

Whether you’re pushing a product/service, or simply trying to build an email list. There needs to be some sort of a call-to-action.

Which means our content objectives need to be:

  1. Drive sales and leads
  2. Educate
  3. Brand building

Joanna is a copy writer at heart, and she says there’s a difference between the way many people write for content versus copy. A lot of, if not most, content is written to educate people, while copy is what gets people to say, “yes.”

She says we’re trying to be so elegant with our content that we forget to ask for the sale.

I know I’m guilty of that. How about you?

I’ve often lived by the belief that if you want something in life, you have to ask for it. Why haven’t I been applying that to my content marketing?

Well, I’m going to change that.

Andy Crestodina | Super Advanced Content Marketing and SEO

Last but not least, Andy Crestodina. Like Gini Dietrich, Andy has become a good friend over the years. When Orbit Media Studios revamped its website, Andy asked T60 to produce a series of videos for the site and I was so proud he chose us.

I’ve seen Andy speak a bunch of times… a bunch!… but I always manage to walk away with great stuff to try.

This time it’s centered on refreshing old blog posts and doing a better job of optimizing them. Focusing specifically on posts that might be on page two of Google, but are in good position for a move to page one.

I’ve been working really hard on our content over the past few years. Thanks in large part to guidance from both Gini and Andy, we have two posts ranking number one for key phrases. Not just on page one, we have the number one post.

I’m not going to lie, I love getting my Moz report every week showing those number one rankings, but over the last few months I’ve grown increasingly unsatisfied… because I want more! More posts ranking!

While I’m all for producing more content and will continue to do so, I know Andy is right. One look at our analytics and I can see several posts begging for a little love to get from page two to page one.

I’m definitely going to get on that ASAP.

Content Jam Wrap-Up

Finally, something else I’ll takeaway from Content Jam 2017 is another point Andy talked about. There’s no substitute for hard work.

This was possibly my favorite part of this year’s event. It was vintage Andy. His enthusiasm for content marketing is one of his biggest assets as a speaker, and I loved his message about getting to bed early so we can wake-up early to produce better content.

“Stop watching zombie TV shows at night. Go to bed!” he told me later.

He said we need a crossfit mentality about producing content. We need the voice of a sports coach in our heads urging us to push ourselves more.

For the record Andy, I’m writing this at 6:15 a.m., I’m over 1000 words at this point, and I don’t even like zombie TV shows. 

Anyway, it was a fun reminder that while we’re all about working smarter these days, working harder can and should still be part of the equation to success.

Tony GnauTony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 13 Telly Awards for its work.

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