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After spending four jam-packed days in Cleveland learning from some of the smartest people in the content marketing industry, I have so much I want to share with the managed service providers we work with.

Content Marketing World 2015 was my first trip to the conference, and I have to say it was a little overwhelming at times. I mean, there were 3,500 people from 53 countries and 150 speakers. With so many interesting sessions to choose from, it was tough to narrow it down and decide how to spend your time. (And don’t get me started on trying to tackle the tradeshow floor. There were almost 90 vendors — 90!)

But in the end, it was well worth all the running back and forth in the massive Cleveland Convention Center. I learned some important lessons and got inspired to try new things with our content efforts here at Intronis. (And my feet will forgive me eventually.)

Here are three lessons I learned at Content Marketing World 2015 that I think will help you improve your MSP marketing efforts:

day_2_-_study_preview1. Planning pays off

During his kickoff speech Wednesday morning, Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, gave a preview of some of CMI’s new benchmarking research, which they’ll be rolling out in the next few weeks.

The new research shows that the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy, an editorial mission, clearly defined success metrics, and an established budget. Only a small percentage of the least effective content marketers had these four pieces in place.

Just like writing a business plan, creating a meaningful (and effective) content strategy takes planning, and it only has an impact if you actually get it down on paper.

day_2_-_handley_-_quality_v_qauntity 2. Create valuable content

I’m a bit biased because I loved her most recent book, Everybody Writes, but my favorite session of the week was Ann Handley’s “Good Content vs. Good Enough Content: A Fight for Sore Eyes.” Handley discussed the ongoing struggle between creating quality content and producing a greater amount of content.

She suggested that it is possible to make good content that scales — as long as you get the fundamentals right. That means creating content that’s engaging and valuable to your audience. One example she pointed out was an hour-long Skillshare class from Blue Bottle Coffee that she took about how to make a perfect cup of coffee. Handley said she took the class almost as a joke (is there really that much to say about making a cup of coffee?) but ended up being impressed by how much she learned.

Providing deep value like this makes customers feel smarter, and educating them in a meaningful way helps you build a relationship with your customers. Think about how you could provide value to your SMB customers. What can you teach them about with your content that will make them smarter or make a difference in their lives?

day_2_-_john_cleese_3-13. Make time for creativity

The keynote address by John Cleese was another highlight of the conference. Yes, he made a few Monty Python jokes that got the audience roaring, but he also offered some really thoughtful commentary on the creative process.

One of his main points was that a significant part of our creativity comes from our unconscious mind and that slowing down and letting your mind wander leads to more creative ideas. He recommended a book called Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind by psychologist Guy Claxton that explores this idea, and it’s at the top of my reading list now.

The concept that stood out to me the most was the need to create boundaries of space and time in order to be creative (a turtle enclosure for your turtle mind, if you will). To me, that means setting aside time for creative work like writing or brainstorming new content ideas. As an MSP, you’re busy, and it can be difficult to find time to dedicate to your marketing efforts. Try blocking off time for it on your calendar each day or each week, and see if it helps spark more creative ideas.

Stay tuned

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I learned so many interesting lessons and got tips about so many helpful new tools that I can’t fit it all in one blog post. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as I share more updates and inspiration from Content Marketing World 2015. Subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you catch it all!

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Anne Campbell

Posted by Anne Campbell

Anne Campbell is the public relations manager for Barracuda. She's been with the organization since 2014, working on content and public relations for Barracuda MSP, the MSP-dedicated business unit of Barracuda. She started her career in newspaper and magazine journalism, and she brings that editorial point of view the work she does, using it to help craft compelling stories.

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