Storytelling, Diversity, & Content Marketing with Cathy McPhillips

Fine Point Grey Cathy McPhillips, VP of Marketing for Content Marketing Institute

Storytelling, Diversity, & Content Marketing with Cathy McPhillips

(41-minute podcast)


Cathy McPhillips, VP of Marketing for Content Marketing Institute shares how “A World of Stories” became the theme for the upcoming Content Marketing World. She discusses how a diversity of viewpoints is essential for crafting content marketing that speaks to customers, as well as sharing how bad ideas are critical to the discovery of good ones. We also cover this week’s news, from PR debacles, questions about whether Snapchat is just a flash in the pan, who uses it, & whether machine learning will bring advertisers onboard, to boycotts & the ongoing debate around brand safety with Google at its center.

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Featured Expert:

Cathy McPhillips, Vice President of Marketing for Content Marketing Institute

Guests and Experts


Cathy McPhillips, Vice President of Marketing for Content Marketing Institute

Bio: Cathy is the Senior Marketing Director for the Content Marketing Institute where she oversees marketing efforts for all CMI properties, including CMI’s website, Content Marketing World, Intelligent Content Conference, Chief Content Officer magazine and Content Marketing University. Prior to joining CMI, Cathy led social/community efforts for a national nonprofit, owned her own strategic marketing business focused on media and digital/social marketing for several international restaurant brands, and worked for two agencies in Cleveland. She is on the board of the Orange Effect Foundation and is on the Social Council for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. Cathy was named to Folio:’s 2014 Top Women in Media, and to {Grow}’s 70 Rising Social Media Stars.


Maureen Jann, Director of Marketing, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Maureen Jann is a veteran B2B marketer whose career in Digital Media has grown up with the Internet. A self-described jill-of-all-trades, Maureen has elevated creative problem solving to an art form and enjoys the daily challenges of driving business results in unexpected ways. Her skills as an entrepreneur, content marketer, creative director and passionate people manager set her apart from the pack. Maureen has worked in every corner of marketing making her a skilled tactical resource as well as a strategic partner.  Recently, she was the captain of the marketing ship for an award-winning professional services firm and is currently creating a content marketing strategy for Point It, a digital marketing agency.


Tim Mohler, Sr. Marketing Manager, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Tim Mohler is a multichannel marketer with experience building campaigns for travel, CPG, food, beverage, and technology companies reaching both B2B and B2C customers. He’s passionate about building marketing experiences & partnerships that are relevant to a brand’s message, exciting for the customer, and most importantly deliver measurable results. At Point It, he develops digital, social and content campaigns as well as managing on a day to day basis.


Maureen Jann: Hi there and welcome to Fine Point digital marketing updates, a weekly podcast of the latest happenings and interviews with expert guests from across digital marketing. I’m Maureen, Jann the Director of Marketing at Point It, a digital marketing agency in Seattle Washington, and I’ll be your hostess, you lucky people. I’m joined by podcast engineer and senior marketing manager Tim Mohler, who will be joining in throughout the podcast. We will be starting off with a few interesting articles and some casual discussion before we move on to learning more about our guest. And this week that lovely guest is Cathy McPhillips, the Vice President of Marketing for Content Marketing institute. Welcome Cathy!


Cathy M: Thank you Maureen and Tim, I’m really excited to be here with you this week.


Maureen Jann: Me too!  I’m excited to talk about the upcoming topic which is based on the theme for the 2017 Content Marketing World. But before we dig into that … I don’t want to release any of the goodies before we get to the goody part, lets talk about headlines and man this week has been brutal. Pepsi, United, Spicer, United again … tough times, things aren’t going well. I think my favorite tweet so far was like Pepsi: “Hey guys, look at this.” United: “Hold my beer!” Sean Spicer: “No, no. I got this.” United again: “Wait a second I think I can one up you.” So it was a pretty funny tweet but ultimately none of these things are funny if you isolate them, it just has to be funny out of survival at a certain point.


I went to go find articles for this week’s podcast and it was a veritable blood bath of bad press and lessons learned. Before we go into the specific articles, I think we just need to talk it through, we need to talk it out like a therapy session. And talk like which one of these gaffes was worse? I don’t know. Tim, you go first, what do you think, which one’s worse?


Tim: I pay no attention whatsoever to anything that Sean Spicer says so didn’t hear any of that, ignored the BBC World News this morning, so I’ve gotta go with United because as a marketer its just awful whenever you’re management team is allowed to speak without vetting their words first and really showing that they don’t care about the customers at all.


Maureen Jann: That was pretty bad.


Tim: It was horrifying.  Really, really horrifying as a customer advocate and a marketer.


Maureen Jann: Yeah that’s true, what about you Cathy? Where was the most drama? How did you … what made you feel the worst this week about these awful gaffes.


Cathy M: I would say United too, and honestly Pepsi was so happy that United happened because Pepsi kind of just went away, so I think United is waiting for the next big blunder by somebody. But I don’t know I just feel so bad for people. I’ve been on the other end of the social media world for one of my clients and I’ve been through, nothing to this degree, but my heart just hurts for them, for the people on the other end of those social media accounts that … why aren’t you prepared for something like this? They were all bad. Spicer, I don’t talk about Spicer. It was an interesting week.


Maureen Jann: I think Spicer’s my least favorite one. That one made me rage level angry, like code red, watch out, my head is going to explode crazy because it was so insensitive. Without getting in the details, it was just human being insensitive, not political insensitive, although also that, human being insensitive. Although you could say that about all of these so really like its hard to choose, but Spicer was the one that made me the most mad. Pepsi was just ridiculous. United was tragic and I had to stop looking at my Facebook feed because it was so brutal. It was the same pictures and videos over and over again of that poor guy.


Anyway, well hopefully we are learning some valuable lessons from the horror show that is bad PR and bad reactions to bad PR, and then bad re re actions to bad PR. And dear, any company that ever has this kind of big drama who sends in an internal memo and decides to blame the victim, please make sure that they don’t leak that memo. That’s what United did. They had that issue then there was a memo released by the CEO and the CEO was like victim blaming all over the place. They leaked the memo out into the world so then the internet comes back for them again and its just super tragic.


Tim: You really have to assume that any memo you release wide internally is going to be made public today.


Maureen Jann: 100 percent.


Tim: I worked for a cruise line and every time … sometimes I swear the internet had the memo before my outlook had the memo.


Maureen Jann: Entirely possible.


Tim: So, you just really have to treat those as public documents.


Maureen Jann: That’s a really good point.


Cathy M: I don’t tweet … I don’t text my children because I know they will screenshot it and send it to their friends, I have to watch what I say to my kids, and that’s our family of four let alone this big corporation. Anything you put in print has potential to get out there.


Maureen Jann: You cannot see my face but I am making a mask of horror right now. They screenshot your texts? Why?


Tim: That should be illegal.


Maureen Jann: That sounds awful? My hands are over my eyes.


Cathy M: It’s a sign of things to come.


Maureen Jann: I don’t understand. Why?


Cathy M: Its a sign of things to come when your kids get older.


Maureen Jann: But why? Why are they doing that?


Cathy M: They’re trying to be funny. I don’t know.


Tim: It probably is funny. I imagine it gets great laughs.


Maureen Jann: I cannot think about this too much. It stresses me out. Thank you for indulging me in a little off topic … well semi, tangentially topical conversation. I mean as marketers we have to pay attention to these things. Its a part of our ecosystem so … but not to dwell on negativity too long either. That’s just a bummer. There is plenty of that out in the world.


Okay so the first article that I have lined up here is “Will SnapChat’s Data Play Help Fend Off Competition from Facebook and Instagram?” First, I love the way they open this article, its “Wall Street investors seem undecided about whether Snapchat is indeed the wave of the future or just a flash in the pan.” Dear Wall Street Investors, I feel exactly the same way, Love Maureen.


Yeah so its … right … Cathy, do you use Snapchat? Its my informal poll.


Cathy M: I do not. I have it so I can see what my kids are doing, but I don’t really ever use it.


Maureen Jann: Okay so I have reasons for not using it. What are your reasons for not using it?


Cathy M: Well, from a business perspective, 1) We are a virtual company and Moegner, who you know, we have talked about it , like what fascinating things when we work from home would we really Snapchat. And with our events only being a few times a year, it just didn’t seem like the best avenue for us. And also, jumping right into this content marketing thing, we have got a channel planned and we know what we do on Twitter, we know what we do on Linkedin and Facebook, and we know where our customers are. And our customers I don’t think are on Snapchat. Do we have a Snapchat filter or event? We do. But beyond that, it just doesn’t seem like we even want to dive into that area and build a new audience when we already have audiences in other places.


Maureen Jann: Well do you personally use it? You don’t use it … The reasons you don’t use it personally I guess is what I was asking about too because … good point in the marketing channel … but .


Cathy M: I’m old. I don’t know. I’m on Facebook. I’m on Twitter. I’m on basically on everything besides Snapchat and who has time in the day for one more thing?


Maureen Jann: I know. So its funny because I have been doing an informal poll for the last year, like what do you use Snapchat for. And I’ve talked about this before but its like …somebody takes pictures of their food in various intervals from beginning to end, and somebody takes pictures of all their shoes, but I’m like why wouldn’t you do that on an Instagram but then there’s the whole visual messaging component, that I feel no need to visually message anybody, nobody needs to see me all the time. They may have to see my shoes though so I may have to reconsider.


Tim: I was going to say, so you are a snap chatter.


Maureen Jann: I’m not even on Instagram. I’m really bahumbug. Get off my lawn.


Tim: You know its funny, I feel about this the same way that I feel about cell phone cameras. You can either be filming something or you can be living it. I feel like Snapchat to me … here at the agency we did the big wheel in Seattle as a team building thing.


Maureen Jann: Which is the giant Ferris wheel.


Tim: Yeah, giant Ferris wheel. Big windows. Great panoramic view.


Maureen Jann: Super scary.


Tim: The thing is, if you’re staring at your phone, you’re not taking in that panoramic view. Half of us, the younger half of our agency, were all on Snapchat the entire time. The other half of us were sitting there trying to stay out of Snapchat shots and just generally take in the view. It was an interesting partially demographic divide and possibly halfway of a lifestyle outlook divide.


Maureen Jann: Deep. Okay. I know I hashed this conversation to death about Snapchat because it confuses me on multiple levels, especially now that Facebook is starting to look like Snapchat.


Tim: Oh my.


Maureen Jann: Anyway, more importantly, back to the data play, SnapChat’s data play, right? Ramped up. The interesting part is last October they ramped up the machine learning and the audience segmentation to offer more opportunities to advertisers. The new system charges ad buyers on a cost per thousand impression scale, which is pretty standard. That’s based on auction style competitive bidding, which is all very familiar to us as digital marketers. Brands can serve follow up ads or remarketing in our crazy industry [inaudible 00:10:06] to those who have interacted with Snapchat sponsored lenses, geo filters, or videos, which I think is brilliant. They’re soft selecting. They’re interacting with the advertising information that’s coming at them. Now advertisers can harness all that information and use it to further their brand goals. Fantastic! That’s exciting! Does it help fend off competition from Facebook and Instagram? I think the big question is only if it’s not a flash in the pan.


Cathy M: I agree and when people take that leap to find out and pull their time and the money away from other things to try that on Snapchat and then end up having to go back to what they were doing before. One thing that I was reading in that article was [inaudible 00:10:55] from Razorfish, she said that Snapchat doesn’t move you outside of it’s own environment so the funnel is just, you’re adding more time. Do you have that time? Do you want to give the user time to adapt or do you want something more urgent?


Maureen Jann: Yeah, it feels like a brand awareness play that has a long top of that funnel. That’s a tough one.


Tim: I think, I dug into the article a little bit too. A lot of the cases that they talk about is app installs or things that are very local. Things where the funnel is very short and you can act and purchase from the device. To me, that makes a lot more sense. I don’t think Facebook has anything to be frightened with with Snapchat, unless Snapchat grows and expands into something new, which is what I think a lot of Wall Streeters have been thinking because their CEO is well known for innovation. As they stand today, they don’t have nearly as much data as Facebook and they’re just way too far away from somewhere where you can actually sell something, unless it’s something where it’s local or event driven, almost the same audience as Twitter, I think, if you’re using Twitter from a mobile device.


Where I can see it coming in heavily, I think Black Friday when that eventually rolls around again, it could be a fantastic play there for people in the fashion space in particular, where that immediacy really comes into play. You also want to show off how you’re looking. I think it’s definitely a space that’s worse playing in for brands simply to learn. It’s a little bit like Second Life in that way, going way, way back and dating myself. I remember when every brand was there and literally the only people on the platform were brands. Hopefully it doesn’t get to that point, but I do think it’s a good exercise in learning as we move forward, especially as Instagram and Facebook continue to just copy everything that’s going on over there. We’ll see it across platforms soon.


Maureen Jann: Yep. Good point.


Cathy M: That’s very interesting to me, Facebook has the massive users and they have the budget. They’re seeing what’s working with other platforms and they’re saying, “We can do that and we’re going to do it better.” It’s just a matter of time before facebook is doing all these things that everyone has. The challenge for facebook is that Facebook is not appealing to a younger audience right now. What do they need to do to bring the 20 somethings and the teens back to Facebook so that they can keep doing what they’re doing and attracting the right audience?


Maureen Jann: Not to mention their advertiser woes where they’re having trouble with transparency and their video analytics are still under fire, under watch I would say. From an advertiser perspective, the overall trust in social media advertising is low right now. Making sure that they’re making strides toward improving that experience from an advertiser perspective is going to be key for their longevity, especially if they want to expand and grow their ad programs.


Tim: I think there is a real impetus to have an additional player other than Facebook and Google on the advertiser space. If you think about advertising as a whole, more than half of it is now digital and nearly all of that is Google or Facebook. If you’re a WPP group or one of these huge, huge agencies, you don’t want only two other players sitting across from you, you really don’t. I do think that whether it’s Snapchat or someone else, they’re looking for there to eventually be another player.


Maureen Jann: Sure. That makes sense. Okay. Article two is about brand safety and brand safety has been a big conversation. We’re in the middle of writing a blog article around brand safety and programmatic. There’s a lot of conversation right now. Brand Safety after the Google Boycott, Finally a Catalyst for Stronger Content Categorization and Screening. This is from Brand Quarterly, which is an interesting discovery I made this week. I’ve never read their stuff before, but this was an editorial that I thought was pretty interesting. The Google boycott by brands is speared … Until the clarity and brand safety is made a priority, which is something that we’ve talked about in our prior podcasts around transparency and making sure that the analytics are up to date and accurate.


In this editorial, the author argues it’s actually the demand side platforms, the DSPs and other providers that enable programmatic ad buys who have best recognized the risks brands face and who have implemented the most effective solutions to address the issue to date. Currently they have a pay for protection model. What this fellow is recommending is that that becomes a baseline, a bottom line, a basic feature because it’s necessary. We’re struggling with the clarity and the brand safety issues. We assume that Google is going to be able to cover us on that because of the volume of resources, when in fact it looks like the DSPs are a better choice to focus on that. They’re talking about doing it, brand safety, as a two-fold safety model. The first one is a general brand safety, avoiding porn, enhanced speech, and things that no brand wants to be associated with. Then specific brand safety things that are brand safety measures around the brand and what would be a potential competitor or something along those lines.


Tim, you’re smiling at me and I’m confused so let’s talk about it.


Tim: This was, it’s an incredibly in depth article. To me, what’s always confused me a little bit about Google’s advertising is that it tends to lack context. To me, this is a larger conversation than just avoiding putting your brand against things that you don’t want to be associated with, but also choosing what you do want to be associated with and being able to customize your messaging according to where you’re being located at. I think over time that’s where the value ad for brands is going to be. Yes, we have to avoid these places and these different sites. I think you’re going to end up seeing more content categorized as advertisers safe versus not advertiser safe.


Maureen Jann: 100%.


Tim: It’s going to end up being a yes/no at a basic level. I think for DSPs and agencies, being able to add a layer on top where we have really fine targeting and we can marry the messaging to the content that you’re up against is really … Thinking almost like native advertising really. That’s where it’s at across all these platforms. It’s very much … If you think back to when we were putting ads in magazines. It’s where is your demographic? Which platform are they on? What frame of mind are they in when they’re on that platform? Then tailoring your message to that. I think in a lot of ways, that’s something that we’ve been missing as we’ve gone digital, even though digital is where that should really live the greatest. With re-targeting, it tends to be very immediate purchase right now messages or very broad brand messages.


For media outlets in particular this has been their big play because they’ll sell you inventory at a much higher price, but at least you know where it is and you know how to communicate to that audience and they can sell you on the audience. I’m really interested to see how this plays out. It’s a fascinating, fascinating, ongoing story.


Maureen Jann: Absolutely.


Cathy M: I have a few things to say about this one. First of all, I think it’s just a good business practice to protect your customers. I think the DSPs should be held responsible. Automatically protect them from the porn and the hate speech and all the things that no one wants to be associated with. Then have a second tier that I don’t want to be associated with this political viewpoint, or whatever the case may be. What an opportunity for a DSP to come up and say, “Listen, this is part of our core capabilities and we can offer this to you,” and see advertisers move over to those DSPs that will actually acknowledge that and make it part of just what they do.


Tim, when you had mentioned magazines, the first thing I thought of when I read this earlier was media buys is now replacing TV media buys. Do you want to run your spots ROS? Do you want to run prime time? Do you want to avoid certain programming? Your cost per thousand always increased during those times because you wanted to be in control of where your inventory was. Paying for what your getting I think just should be expected. Advertisers should be expected to pay more to have their bags in the places that they want them. That’s just basic business.


When I was reading both the Snapchat article and then this article, it made me think back to our ICC event we had, our Intelligent Content Conference two weeks ago where we talked so much about artificial intelligence and machine learning and how [inaudible 00:19:42] was such an important place right now in today’s marketing and the way we run business. We had [inaudible 00:19:47] from IBM Watson there and then Sam Hunt from the Washington Post who both gave these amazing presentations on how everyone thinks artificial intelligence is so far off in the future, but really these things that they’re doing within their own companies are helping improve their customers’ experiences and it’s protecting their brands. I just see a lot of automation and artificial intelligence in ways that even the DSPs could protect everybody. Who wants … I get with Google. I get what the boycott was about, even though I completely hate boycotts, but the ownership shouldn’t all be on Google.


Maureen Jann: Okay, so I need to ask. Why do you hate boycotts? I need to know.


Cathy M: It’s the soft side of me. Say, for example, besides this week, name a recent boycott. Say something like Ivanka Trump, and I wasn’t going to get political, but she popped in my head. I think of the hourly workers working at Nordstrom who are trying to pay their bills. I think of so many other people that are involved besides the company. You know? That’s what I think of. There’s just so many other layers involved besides just I’m so mad at this company. I’m so mad at this brand.


Maureen Jann: Yeah. I think the other side.


Cathy M: I sound like my mother.


Maureen Jann: We won’t tell. Your secret is safe with us. The other side of that though is I think that those boycotts force those companies to make choices and there’s always a new brand and there’s always a new revenue source that can be brought in to replace the old one. I think that the boycott concept is forcing business to be more ethical. I don’t see a problem with that. Who’s going to be on United anytime soon? That’s what I want to know. Nobody.


Tim: This came up in the context of Uber and another [crosstalk 00:21:42] customer disaster and boycott. I have uninstalled Uber on my phone. My wife did the same thing. What’s been really interesting to me has just been, well, this article that I read was all about how some brands, you have to store up good will for the bad times in advance and Uber is well known for not really having the good of anyone at heart. So, there’s no mercy when the time comes that they make a misstep or somebody says something wrong. It’s not enough just to fire somebody or issue a new policy, United is finding this out as well, because we know you’re not the good guys. When you act bad, we’re not terribly surprised, but we’re done.


Maureen Jann: And we start hashtags like United’s new motto. By the way, if you haven’t seen that on Twitter, I was watching it this morning. It’s a horror show. It’s funny and awful and I had to turn it off because it was too much, and it was super active. Like it’s just [inaudible 00:22:42]. One after another. Anyway, sorry.


Tim: If United had been listening to what was going on on their hashtags, what was going on on social, if they were truly listening to their customers before this happened, then there are lower key ways to respond to customers and to let them know we hear you and this is the reason behind what we do, or we shouldn’t be doing that, we’ll do something different. We’ll address it without the need for the big stick, or the giant boycott and just this banishment of the brand.


Maureen Jann: That’s a good point.


Tim: I think as marketers, it’s really about putting our customers first, listening to them when the times are good so that we have a little bit of good will built up when somebody, God forbid it be the CEO, says something that is just not something that we want to stand behind as a brand. All of our regular employees don’t stand behind that. Everybody who is associated with the brand doesn’t stand behind that, but somebody mouths off who’s a senior executive and suddenly we’re all tarnished.


Maureen Jann: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 100%.


Tim: Listen to the customer.


Maureen Jann: That was an excellent segway.


Cathy M: We all agree on that.


Maureen Jann: Yes. Yes. Virtual high fives.


Tim: Hashtag diatribe.


Maureen Jann: Hashtag rabbit hole. Okay. Let’s move on to our interview because it’s getting late and we have been getting longer and longer each time we do a podcast and we’re trying to keep it short so that I can listen to it on my walk in. This is life goals. Okay. So as I mentioned before, we’ve been hearing from Cathy McPhillip, one of my favorite people from The Content Marketing Institute and that’s a tough, a tough thing to say because there are a lot of great people who work at Content Marking Institute. I’m looking at you Moe. She’s the Vice President of Marketing there and she is deep in the planning weeds of Content Marketing World 2017. I had the pleasure of meeting her there last year, which was really, really fun, and now Tim’s going with us next year. We’re going to throw an epic party and we’re going to watch me speak, but that is neither here nor there.


Tim: I’m so excited, very, very excited.


Maureen Jann: Yes. What I loved is [crosstalk 00:24:48] Go ahead.


Cathy M: I’m throwing my hands up in the air, but I don’t want to interrupt you, which I just did, but I’m very excited.


Maureen Jann: Oh, we’re so excited too. We’re going to have so much fun. The upcoming theme of the conference is A World of Stories, which I did not know and I feel like this is a grand unveiling. I feel very privileged. We’re so glad to have you on the show, Cathy, and we’d love to learn a little bit more about what the VP of Marketing does for Content Marketing Institute.


Cathy M: Oh, you know that typical answer of everyday is different, but it really is. Fortunately, I’ve got an awesome team. There are four of us in marketing. There’s 20 some of us in the whole company. Much of my day revolves around two things, increasing our email subscribers and increasing event attendees, most specifically our Content Marketing World event in September. It’s a lot more than that. It’s a lot of communication with our attendees and with our customers, making sure everyone is happy, nurturing relationships, etc., but ultimately my two business goals are email subscribers and event attendees.  [crosstalk 00:25:54]


We kind of have to stay focused because the next thing I was going to say is aside from Content Marketing World, we have Chief Content Officer magazine, Intelligent Content Conference, Content Marketing University, Content Marketing Awards, we have a research arm, we have three webinars a month, consulting, on and on and on, a blog with new content daily, and all of these programs are all around our mission of simply embracing the practice of content marketing. We have to kind of figure out what are we ultimately trying to do and are all of these things that we’re doing working toward those end goals.


As VP of Marketing, my job is to market my job is to market CMI, which is a marketing education company to marketers, so it’s like [inaudible 00:26:39], but it’s super fun.


Maureen Jann: Yeah. This is my favorite part of actually knowing you because I think this is how we actually started interacting on Twitter. I was like, “I market to marketers about marketing.” You were like, “Oh, me too!” So funny.


Cathy M: I remember that Tweet and we were like, “Let’s talk!” Then it went to direct message and here we are.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, yeah, here we are. What are you guys working on right now? I know you’re working on the show so tell me where you guys are in that.


Cathy M: We just wrapped up the Intelligent Content Conference, which was 400 marketers interested in content strategies and that was held in Las Vegas. There were 400 attendees, 20 countries, and it was awesome. Now we are full force Content Marketing World with a couple other things thrown in. Content Marketing University has an enrollment period in June. Our awards program, we’re accepting submissions right now. We’re 20 weeks out from Content Marketing World and then working with Moe on some social fun ideas and working with John who works in audience development, trying to figure out how we can learn more about our customers and give them the content that they want when they want it, etc. Basically Content Marketing World with some other things too kind of interrupt me and give me a break in between.


Maureen Jann: Right on. Can you give us a dime store version of what the difference between ICC and Content Marketing World because that is a question that keeps running around in my brain. You said content strategy, but I feel like that gets covered at CM World as well, so I’d love to learn a little bit more about what that differentiation looks like.


Cathy M: Well, Content Marketing World, this is our seventh year. This is our flagship event. It covers all aspects of content marketing from ideation to distribution to analytics and everything in between. ICC is really focused on content strategy for marketing professionals and it’s focused more on the management of your content. Robert Rose described it easiest to me. I was like dumb it down to me, help me understand this and he basically said it’s not the content creation, it’s what you do beforehand and what you do afterwards.


Maureen Jann: Oh, interesting.


Cathy M: It’s what systems are you putting into place and then to get your content, once you create it, it’s ready to distribute and what do you do afterwards to make sure it’s distributed, make sure that you’re using it the right way, make sure it’s getting to the places it needs to be? That’s the easiest way that I know to explain it.


Maureen Jann: Whoa. You just blew my mind.


Cathy M: We do cover that at Content Marketing World because it is part of the process.


Maureen Jann: Okay. That’s really helpful. That’s really interesting. Well done, Robert Rose. I’m delighted he’s going to be on the show in a couple of weeks. That’s going to be great. I’m going to poke his brain about that.


Cathy M: It was really nice … I know, because for a long time I’m kind of their demo and I said I don’t know how to explain this to people. A lot of the sessions this year, I was so excited because I sat through a session on content audits and I sat through all these different sessions that last year would have gone right over my head and I’m like, oh my gosh, I actually understand this now. I think a lot of it was I’ve grown in a year and a lot of it was that Robert and Joe made sure that the speakers knew who their audience was, that their audience was marketers, not content strategists.


Maureen Jann: Cool. That’s so helpful. Now I want to go. I didn’t know before, but now I want to go. And I kind of want to pitch. I think I pitched last time.


Cathy M: There’s always next year.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Tell us about the whole concept of World of Stories. What does it mean to you? How did you come up with it, all that good stuff.


Cathy M: It’s a very non-scientific process that some times we just sit around and hash around ideas. One day I thought of something really important to do and I said I’m going to think of something else to do. I started just thinking about [inaudible 00:30:43] for the event. One year we had a rock and roll theme. We’ve had a Hollywood theme. We’ve had just a bunch of different topics over the years that we’ve kind of built a creative messaging around. I sent JK, who’s Joseph [inaudible 00:30:57], who is our create director, I sent him a handful of ideas, some bad ideas, some good ideas. I said some of these are silly, but maybe one of them will spark your interest. One of them was World Maps, like that kind of thing, and he said, “Oh my gosh, I love that. There’s so much we can do with it.” We came up with a few different themes, like the World of Stories, and sent them over to Joe [inaudible 00:31:25] and he was like, “Ehhhh. I don’t know. I don’t really like any of these.” We kind of went back and forth and back and forth. That’s how you get good ideas. Then a World of Stories was born.


The reason I love it so much is it hits on a few very, very important issues that we’re dealing with right now. We want to have diversity in our speaker line up, diversity in gender, nationality, and race, and so much more. That’s a huge priority for us, that’s a huge priority for Joe, and generally speaking, a diversity in our attendees. We had 72 countries represented last year, which just makes me so happy that we have people from all over the world that want to be in Cleveland for our event.


Maureen Jann: We had some very international participants in the Content Marking World bingo game that we did. I think I was hanging out with a couple of guys from the Netherlands and they were hilarious. They were so fun. I experienced that.


Cathy M: They’re so fun and they’re so enthusiastic and they are so happy to be there and to see us. I can’t tell you. I’m a hugger. I got some hugs when we saw those people last year. They’re wonderful.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, it was great. We had a really good time. When you talk about that kind of cultural diversity, how do you feel that has an impact on content marketing?


Cathy M: I think it just provides stories from around the world. Who wants to hear stories from only white men or white women or from one country? We all have different experiences and based on our gender, race, nationality, skin color, we all just experience different things. Even different companies from different countries and cultures, they handle content marketing differently and what can we learn from all of these people? It’s not only the 200 speakers that we have there, but it’s eating lunch with someone from a different country or from a different gender for that matter. You sit down and you start talking to someone. What are you working on? What are you working on? You learn something new.


We’ve talked among our team before that we only know who we know. We need to branch out more and we need to … Our call for speakers last year was such a big thing for us. If you don’t want to speak, tell us someone who does or send them the content speakers link because even though we think that we’re branching out, the world’s a big place and we just want to make sure that we’re doing the best we can. We can always obviously improve. We want to make sure we’re doing the best we can to reach new people and new ideas so we can truly make it a Content Marketing World event.


Maureen Jann: Yeah. It was interesting. I think Tim and I were talking and one of the conversations was around you should have one of the people you’re marketing to in the room with you. If you’re doing content and you are creating strategies, then you should have someone who’s doing the work that you’re trying to make their lives easier, better, and that is such a broad concept and can be applied … If you have an international market, you’d better have international perspectives. There are so many companies that do have that kind of international presence. We fail, I think, a lot of times as marketers to remember that and that we have to have those conversations, those very real conversations.


Tim: When I first started my career, I remember sitting in a conference room surrounded by a bunch of marketers who thought that they understood who our customers were and what they were like. These were a lot of South Beach types. The funny thing is …


Maureen Jann: Florida South Beach?


Tim: Florida South Beach, Miami South Beach.  [crosstalk 00:35:10] It was funny because even then I had the realization that our customers tended to be mid westerners and didn’t think like the room around me did. In fact, probably opposed many of the things we promoted and just thought incredibly differently from that room. We were wondering why our marketing was missing. Well, our marketing was missing because nobody wanted to hear the viewpoints of anyone who wasn’t in that room because that’s how we perceived our brand. Very differently from how our customers perceived our brand. I think that’s always, you always have to keep the customer in the room.


Cathy M: That makes me laugh really hard because I’m from the Midwest. I live in Ohio. I went to a conference in South Beach. I packed what I thought were my South Beach clothes and I got down there and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I am so from the Midwest.” It was just interesting. It’s a very different market.


Tim: It’s a very unique place.


Cathy M: Yeah, it is a very unique place. My son is going there next week for Spring Break.


Tim: Which is a totally different crowd than the usual South Beach crowd. It changes all the time. To be clear, the South Beach crowd is different than the Miami crowd. We have so many different audiences and it’s really challenging sometimes just to realize how differently so many of the audiences, even if you’re a local company marketing in different areas, we’re here in Seattle, and different areas of Seattle. It’s not just color. It’s not just gender. It’s all sorts. It’s blue collar versus white collar. It’s all these different things and you really have to bring an open mind and an open spirit as a marketer to really be able to meet every one’s needs.


Maureen Jann: Yeah. Agreed. So, Cathy, how do you feel like this whole cultural diversity and this spotlight on the cultural diversity when you’re talking about marketing, and you’re doing your marketing, how does that impact the way you’re doing work now? Has it changed anything for you?


Cathy M: This is a question I know that you prepped me with and I just haven’t really thought of a really good answer, just being truthful. One thing that Joe did is after some evaluations from Content Marketing World last year, one of the points that was brought up is we wish there was more diversity. He said, “All right, that’s it. I’m doing this. I’m leading the charge and this is going to happen.” He wrote a blog post in October of last year saying, “You’re right. We could have done better.” I’m like, “Why are you apologizing? You did the best you could,” and he said, “We could have done better,” and I said,”Okay.” He wrote a blog post and said,”Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re taking this on. This will happen next year.”


A few months had past and from behind the scenes you could see he was doing exactly what he said he was going to do and I said you need to do a follow up. He’s like, “Well, do those people care?” I said, “Well, I think so.” People were responding very, very highly to the fact that they said, “Oh my gosh. Not only did you listen, but you’re actually doing it.” I think educating our audience and having them know that we did take this to heart and it is important to us, I think that’s not necessarily marketing, but the open line of communication we’ve been having with a lot of people has been really good for us.


There are probably a lot of things we could be doing a lot better and a lot differently, but I do think because our Twitter chats that Moe runs and our availability to our international audience, I think we keep the communication open so if they do have questions like should I come, where should I stay, where can I eat that I can find some local fare? Cleveland’s a melting pot. There’s any number of restaurants of different nationalities that we could direct someone to.  I make that my personal mission when someone’s coming. My job is to get people to register for Content Marketing World. Once they get here, my job kind of lightens up a little bit. I’m busy with helping people and stuff, but ultimately my job, once they get to register and the event starts, I’m kind of like, “Okay, I can breathe for a second.”


My job is then to make sure they’re having the absolutely best experience they could have. I think I spent probably 10 or 12 hours and if Pam’s listening to this, I’m sorry, but I did spend a lot of time on this, talking to attendees who were coming and they called or they emailed me or they Tweeted me and said, “Give me a suggestion on sessions,” and I’d pick up the phone and I’m like, “All right, tell me what you do. Tell me where you’re coming from. Tell me what you need to work on,” and we’d sit there and we would walk line by line through the agenda and I’d help them figure out where they needed to be that week. It was really cool. I did that for most of the international attendees. I don’t know why that was the case, but it was pretty cool. I kind of got off on a total tangent on that. [crosstalk 00:39:59]


Maureen Jann: But it’s amazing. What service! Not to mention a way to get to know what your customer is really running into and where they’re challenged and where they feel like they need help. That makes a ton of sense and fits very nicely into this whole World of Stories concept and listening to the customer, which seems to be an overarching theme for our entire podcast today. Dear Internet, the theme for today is listening to your customer.


Well great. I think we’re actually at the end of our time, but we’re so delighted to have you with us. Thank you so much for making the time. Definitely if you’re into content and you have a desire to learn and meet amazing people and come to a killer party because, hello, we’re throwing a party, you should definitely register for Content Marketing World. We’re going to have a great time. Especially if you’d like to meet me, or Tim, or Cathy and the rest of the amazing Content Marketing Institute crew, you should definitely do that. To you guys out in podcast land, thank you so much for joining us. It’s always a delight to have you along. Any links we mentioned today will be in the show notes for your convenience. If you like the show and want to make sure it sticks around, please make sure to rate us on your favorite podcast platform. Follow Point _ it on Twitter to get the latest podcast, content, live events, and more. Thanks for coming everybody and for now, stay on point!



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