Fireworks weren’t the only thing attracting a crowd this 5th November – the Content Marketing Show, held in the spectacular Brighton Dome on the south coast, welcomed SEO enthusiasts from across the country, all eager to learn about the latest content writing tips and trends.
Although I’ve been writing for many years, I’m relatively new to the SEO industry, so I was particularly keen to see how I could improve my approach to creating content in this context.
It was my first trip to Brighton and, frankly, it had me at hello. Following a very pleasant stay in my hotel, I walked along the beautiful sunny sea front, passing the stunning Brighton Pavilion on the way to reach the conference venue. It was a great start to the day and, luckily for me, it just got better from there.
The show started off with a really engaging talk from Mark Johnstone about what content marketers can learn from advertising. Mark broke down advertising strategy into: customer insight, product truth and competitor insight. This boiled down to assessing customers problems, solving the problem with a product or service, and an explanation of how this product or service offered something different to that offered by their competitors. This particularly struck a chord with me, as when generating content ideas for clients it’s often easy to get carried away and go off on tangents, but really all marketing should focus on its primary objective – solving problems and giving real value to the customer.
As well as offering ideas on how to structure content ideas, the show also featured talks on how to optimise creativity. Emma Dunn’s presentation focused on techniques for harnessing and enhancing creativity based on scientific research, at both individual and team levels.
Emma revealed that messy desks are in fact better for being creative (‘finally’, I thought, my working methods have been approved by science!) but sadly my elation didn’t last long. Despite being better for the initial creative process, messy desks lost out to tidy ones for the actual implementation process of those ideas. Creativity was also found to be enhanced by regular exercise and exposure to nature, even an office pot plant!
In terms of group creativity, Emma explained that although brainstorming was a great way of generating ideas, that it didn’t work particularly well if started off in this context. Even in small groups, those with bigger egos tend to dominate and get fixated upon their suggestions, making it harder for quieter members to add their opinions. By contrast, asking a team to generate ideas individually, before then discussing them as a group, tends to result in a broader range and more equal distribution of ideas.
Another topic of the show I found really fascinating was the importance of storytelling in content, both in text and images. Stephen Masters explained that marketing content should be written with a hook in order to provoke an emotional reaction, and that references to popular culture allow messages to be familiar and evoke memories, while cliffhangers, highlights and catchphrases enable the content to be more memorable.
Nadia Barmada from Getty Images explored the imagery in marketing campaigns from a variety of well known brands, and how the most successful provided a “super sensory” experience. As with written content, images which tell relatable stories are more memorable and more engaging.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg of what I learnt at the show – it was such a great experience and I’m really looking forward to applying this knowledge to my future content writing.