What I Learned About Content Marketing From Patti Smith and Pink Floyd, Part 1

Posted on September 26, 2011 by 3 Comments

Editor’s note: This is the first post in a series of three about Content Marketing World.

Following a rockin’ Labor Day weekend spent seeing my favorite 90s band play two shows in San Francisco, I jet-setted to music-loving Cleveland for the inaugural Content Marketing World conference. The event was conceived by Joe Pulizzi (@juntajoe) and his content marketing firm, Junta42.

I was thrilled to keep my holiday musical inspiration humming at the conference’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame kickoff event. Of the two days’ and nights’ worth of scintillating content marketing and strategy ideas that were shared, the lessons with the most reverb can be framed by my experience exploring the seven floors of exhibits at the Rock Hall.Pink Floyd

Lesson 1: Chaos breeds breakthroughs.

The Rock Hall is modern-supermarket huge with escalators rising through open space from floor to floor (except for the top floor, housing the Women in Rock exhibit, which is only reachable by stairs, a detail I found telling). As I rose to the third floor, I was surprised and exhilarated to discover the great white wall and characters from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” looming over me. How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?!

Visitors walk through a small opening in the wall (Pinky wouldn’t have liked that) to find a quote from Roger Waters writ large on the massive inside surface: “I was faced with a choice: deny my addiction and embrace that ‘comfortably numb’ but ‘magic-less’ existence or accept the burden of insight, take the road less traveled and embark on the often painful journey to discover who I was and where I fit.”

The lesson I took away about breakthrough rock albums — and standout content of any kind — is to remember that revelations can spawn from pain or uncertainty. We must embark to discover

CMWorld Refrains:

  • Arnie Kuenn of Vertical Measures gave this simple directive: “Answer questions with content.”
  • Brian Clark, founder of copyblogger.com, said, “The creative process is crazy but embrace it. We teach content marketing and practice it at the same time. People aren’t deeply reading content until they see real reason to. What are people struggling with?  What are their desires?”
  • Jonathan Byerly, Dell’s director of online content, guided his Web team on a painful but award-winning content strategy journey, taking the site from a “root ball of content,” orphan pages and inconsistent approaches to a customer-centric experience with a persistent navigation strategy that helps customers make better decisions. He said, “There is room for poetry but not in your site navigation. Keep your org structure off your home page!”
  • Pawan Deshpande of HiveFire, in a talk about content curation, lauded Verne Global’s approach. It started by seeking out pain, then focused on an unmet need for trustworthy information about green database centers. It then created an online curated news site about the subject, which is now the leading site for information about green datacenters.

 Tune in Wednesday for more from @kierstenlawson on how Content Marketing World “turned it up to eleven.”

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3 Comments

Mark Hanson on September 26, 2011

Byerly also presented at Confab and I found his presentation to be among the best in terms of how Dell structures its content creators and the relationship they have with the stakeholders.

Kiersten Lawson on September 26, 2011

Ah, yes. Byerly spoke a bit about Dell’s dedicated staff of reporters as well at CMWorld, which I note in one of the upcoming parts of the blog series. He was coiffed and dressed a bit like Christian Bale in “American Psycho,” suggesting to me that he takes content strategy deadly seriously :)

Melanie Moir on September 26, 2011

Ah, yes, growing pains make the pain worthwhile. Thanks for sharing these insights, Kiersten!

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