Last week I attended the Digital Summit Denver and soaked up fresh knowledge from some of the brightest minds in the digital world. This was my second Digital Summit experience and what I find most impressive is the quality of speakers each year. It’s hard to pick one session when there are five concurrent sessions all with juicy, enticing titles. The good news is that I left fired up and filled to the brim with new information.
Here are five of my top takeaways that really resonated this year:
- Trust the Process – Shana Sullivan from Vertical Measures said it best during her amazing, exhaustive content marketing workshop, “Content marketing is not a 30-day ROI.” The reality is that it takes time to impact the business. So, why do content marketing in the first place? Because it works — and we all know this because we all do it. There is tangible proof that content marketing can help contribute to the bottom line. Speakers at the Digital Summit, like Melissa Joy Kong from Iceberg Agency offered numerous case study examples with measurable success from content marketing programs. At the end of the day, we need a strategy, effective tools and tactics, and to simply trust the process.
- Be Specific – Keynote Seth Godin, best-selling author, warned of the danger of being generic. His advice – find out which problems are not being solved and be specific – so specific that if someone has that particular problem they will find you. Shana Sullivan said, “People search for what they need, not what brand they need.” This reminded me of the Strategic Narrative Marketing approach that we (Catapult) launched last year as an offering to our fellow PR and marketing professionals. By developing a narrative aimed at the industry – that solves a problem, owns an opportunity, supports the megatrends or challenges the misperceptions – a company gains a clear vision of what they stand for. The outgoing message that is delivered through PR and marketing channels becomes cohesive, relevant and specific.
- Run Towards Technology – Forrester analyst, Joe Stanhope, delved into the world of technology in marketing. He revealed that 21 percent of marketing budgets are dedicated to technology – which will continue to transform the way we do our jobs. In order to keep pace with rapid disruption, we must rethink our marketing processes and embrace the change. Nearly every session I attended revealed tools and technology that are designed to help make our jobs easier, get more meaningful analytics and to understand our customers better. The key is finding and leveraging the technologies that move the needle.
- Tell the Right Story – The concept of the “story” was certainly a popular topic at Digital Summit this year – simply because marketers are storytellers. In fact, all people are storytellers. Look at social media. SnapChat was built around the “Story.” Instagram and Facebook have followed with similar features. Not only are we storytellers, but we all love a good story. In marketing, we need to make sure we are telling the right story to the right For B2B businesses, like the ones we work with at Catapult, this can be a challenge. But, as Godin noted, the person you’re selling to is a human, not a business. There is a story to tell that audience as well.
- Ask Questions – If you’re looking to fill your editorial calendar with meaningful, quality content – start by asking the people you work with. Find out what questions have they been asked by clients or colleagues – the answers to those questions are often content gold. This also pushes us to get out of our siloes and bring other teams into the marketing program – perhaps they are more customer-facing or have a different perspective on the business. This will not only build an excellent editorial calendar, but it increases the chances of your audience finding you because you are answering the questions they are asking.
These are just five of many takeaways from this year’s event. I was excited to make several connections between our efforts to teach PR and Marketing professionals about the Strategic Narrative Marketing approach and the best practices that were advised during the sessions. In addition to creating a specific cohesive message, the approach to SNM serves as a massive content generator – and because the content is focused on the industry trends, needs and perceptions, it is high quality content that is relevant to the industry. You can learn more about SNM on our blog.
The Digital Summit was once again a top-notch avenue for professional development and learning. I can’t wait to see who they have on board to present in the coming years.