My love of the Content Marketing Academy has only just begun...

Ok.. I’m putting it out there..… I’ve had a bit of an obsession with Chris Marr for about 6 months…. Been stalking him and his friends online and I finally went to meet them last week at the Content Marketing Academy Kick Off (#CMAKO2017).

This event has been sitting on a bit of a pedestal for me since December when I got the invite to come along, expectations were high but Chris and his team of speakers didn’t disappoint. They seemed to talk in the same language as me and cut out the generic crap because they spoke from their heart.

 The morning started off with Alasdair McGill with his analogy of Carol from Little Britain ‘Computer says no..’ and sadly it pretty much sums up the typical customer service experience in our country. With this in mind we shouldn’t be surprised to hear that 20% is the average customer churn rate. 

With 96% of unhappy people choosing not to complain – how are we supposed to learn from our mistakes?

The answer? Question like a 5 year old. Over the years we shy away from asking questions, either scared of the answer, assuming their responses or being afraid of looking stupid. The truth is your clients will actually feel valued if you ask them, and they will share this information as it shows you care.  Ask your clients how they feel about their experience, learn what you could do better, but most importantly make sure you act on this information. 

 Next up was Mike Morrison from the Membership Guys

 Does Linda own your ass? It’s a line that stuck with me! I’ve not met her yet in my current form with Perceptive Growth but I’ve certainly met her in the past!

‘Linda’ is the exhausting client who quite literally sucks the life out of you as nothing is ever enough! 

 Mike used his slot to show how you could jump off the hamster wheel if you wish and set up a membership organisation, allowing you to leverage more out of your time and get away from a classic case of ‘Linda!’

 This isn’t for everyone and you can’t go into it blindly on a whim. Mike, quickly pointed out that you need to validate that there is actually a business case for it. Build it and they will come does not work!  You need to have built credibility within your area of expertise and have an unrelenting passion to share your knowledge.  He suggested looking up Chris Ducker’s work on building a personal brand. (Note: he’s actually speaking at TCMA this year in Edinburgh click here for tickets!)

Targeting of Facebook Ads was the next hot topic, with the lovely Gavin Bell of Blue Cliff Media. Taking to the stage he used his own vlogging adventure to illustrate how he used his personal brand to bring people to his business site. 

 The first step with promoting your business on Facebook is knowing who your perfect customer is and being as specific as possible. You can then use this information in Ad Manager to target this audience.

Gavin also opened up the subject of re-targeting, which has the highest return on spend as you connect with people who have already ‘visited’ your page/website but not converted yet(Amazon are great at this). He explained that people who watched more than 25% of his videos were encouraged to like his page.  Another example might be a visitor who has clicked through to your website and got as far as the purchase page but not actually gone through with it. You could retarget these people with an offer, free shipping or some additional valuable content that would move them further down the purchasing funnel.

Now for some on the spot action! A fantastic workshop on kicking your writers block to the kerb and making sure the content you do write converts into leads. If you’ve ever created a blog, vlog or any other content material but not seen any results- this is the matrix planning formula for you!

 Grabbing the bull by the horns Vicky Gunn gave us a masterclass in coming up with ideas for our own content marketing. Using Marcus Sheridan’s BIG FIVE we brainstormed new ideas for Pam Laird of Fin & Co Hairdressing. This was a great tool at illustrating how quick and easy it can be to come up with content if you use the formula of Cost, Best, Reviews, Problems and Comparisons.  Reflecting back on Alasdair McGill's presentation you have to think like a consumer – the five topics mentioned are the best at getting new leads.  Simply feed this information back into a planning matrix and you have your content marketing year planned out!

Some would say the post-lunch slot is the most hated of the day but Superman made sure that wasn’t the case. Col Gray from Pixel Ink reflected back on the past 50 years of Marvel & DC comics, illustrating how the consistency in brand has ensured that their characters remain instantly recognisable decades later, in whatever form they take.

Rather than fixating on our products or services Col encouraged us to think more creatively and consider ourselves a superhero… what’s your superpower? What is your purpose? What are your weapons? Who are your associates? What is your personality?  Create your ‘costume’ and stories around these and it will go a long way in making your brand memorable. Consistency is also key, you may tweak as you go but as the comic masters illustrate, by staying true to your fundamental pillars you will remain recognisable years down the line.

The last speaker of the day was Rod McMillan a smart, well dressed guy who suggested we stop being so cynical about award submissions and considered what they could actually do for our business.   If its not the cynicism it’s the fear of being judged or failure. I’m often encouraging my clients to get involved with recognition awards so have been through the process numerous times, however I recently considered it for myself before Christmas and chickened out because of the fear of being judged too early in my venture. Rod got us thinking of it another way….  If so many people are in this same position.. how many people are actually applying?   Harness the opportunity and tell your customers how good you are. It is your award for the taking!

 Wow this a bit of an epic blog post, but one I felt important to share. I’m constantly learning and I thrive when exposed to new ideas and surrounded with positive people. The Content Marketing Academy has opened up a new community to me, a place where people are eager to share knowledge and help each other to succeed.  Chris, you did a fantastic job of hosting the whole event, you have highlighted how effective it is to learn in groups. I’m inspired and I want to be the best I can. Helping people to succeed in business is my passion and 2017 is going to kick ass!

Thank you for making me feel so welcome.