How to Create the Best Content Marketing World Experience

It was 2011 when the first intimate group of 600 shiny-eyed marketers journeyed to downtown Cleveland Ohio.

These inaugural conference goers had no idea they were attending what would become the precipice of the content marketing evolution we know today.

And unbeknownst to this freshmen class, they would be taught by 35 entrepreneurially talented minds around the freshly coined term content marketing, most of which are still leading, pertinent voices, and the brightest in content today.  

Content Marketing World Inaugural Year, 2011

Pioneered by Joe Pulizzi, entering its eighth year, and based in Cleveland (except for 2012 when CMW was in Columbus, Ohio), Content Marketing World 2018 is preparing to welcome more than 4,000 marketing professionals from 50 countries and 80+ vendors that will come together September 4-7, 2018.

In over 120 sessions this year, topics will include content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), influencer marketing, lead generation, video marketing, and endless other marketing topics to help you optimize and scale your content marketing strategy at your solo shop, startup, SMB, digital agency, or enterprise organization.

Joe Pulizzi the Godfather of Content Marketing & CMWorld Founder

Insights from Content Marketing Leaders

Much has changed since 2011 in content marketing.

What started as a buzzword has migrated to the center pin of most marketing programs.

With the onslaught of the online and mobile in your face advertising age, people value and trust brand content more than paid ads, especially when brands invest the time to cultivate mutually beneficial, honest relationships with industry leaders and influencers.

Strategically architected content marketing programs drive higher business growth, are measurable, and provide more long-term ROI than paid advertising. If you invest the time to create useful, relevant, helpful, well-written content your tribe will find you,  support you, and likely buy more from you.

I invited a handful of content marketing industry luminaries we’re fortunate to count among our friends for their perspectives:


“There have been SO MANY CHANGES since 2011. If I had to call out just one, I would say it’s the increased focus on content relevancy. There is PLENTY of content. Too much, probably. What works and what wins is content that is worth the consumers’ time.

Jay Baer Content Marketing World 2018

That means personalized content. That means targeted content. That means content formatted for multiple modalities (including voice search). It’s not about a big idea any longer.

Now, it’s about executing on a ton of hyper-specific ideas that tie together conceptually and at the brand level.”

Jay Baer
Founder Convince & Convert
Speaker and attending #CMWorld since 2011


Bernie Borges Content Marketing World 2018“I’ve noticed a shift in the content marketing movement over the past five years or so toward content that salespeople can use to engage their prospects and customers.

Executives want to see ROI metrics tied to sales, and rightfully so.”  

Bernie Borges
CMO, Vengreso
Speaker and attending #CMWorld since 2011


“The number of tools at your disposal is up! The organic reach in social is down. Influencers are stronger. Posts are longer. Things haven’t gotten easier since those early days.Andy Crestodina Content Marketing World 

Content marketing is still the place where you find smart, creative people doing really interesting things. This is still where the most generous brands win!

Meet old friends for breakfast! Most people don’t have breakfast plans. Send a quick invite to three people you haven’t seen in a while and two people you’d like to meet. That hour talking over eggs might be one of your highlights from the trip!”

Andy Crestodina  
Co-Founder / Chief Marketing Officer, Orbit Media Studios
Speaker and attending #CMWorld since 2012

“Things that have changed since 2011: More sophisticated tools. Newer technologies. Voice. AI. Instagram! Greater emphasis on influencers and experience and cohesive storytelling.

Things that haven’t changed since 2011: The smartest brands think strategically about their content marketing, always with a pathological focus on the customer. Great writing. Human connections. Joy and fun. Ann Handley Content Marketing World

CMW is like a homecoming for a lot of us speakers who have been trekking to Cleveland for 8 years. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to meet you: I do. So here’s my advice for getting the most out of it:

1. Say hello. If you see a speaker you want to talk to, don’t think they’re too busy to talk to you. SAY HELLO!

2. Plan to make one new friend. You can manage that right? Yes, even you introverts reading this now.

3. Immerse yourself. Put your phone down. Don’t sit in sessions checking your email. Come out from behind your laptop and technology. Take notes by hand because you’ll remember more later. (Try it. It works.)”

Ann Handley
Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs
Speaker and attending #CMWorld since 2011

“The biggest change since 2011 is scale. That first event was pretty compact. And like all compact events, running into others, meeting new people, and happening to cross paths with potential clients and vendors was almost guaranteed.Tom Martin Content Marketing World

“Fast forward to 2018, and that’s not the case anymore. The convention center is huge, the tracks many and the lodging spread across multiple hotels. To maximize your time at Content Marketing World, you need to plan a bit more and leverage technology to help ensure you meet the folks you want and need to meet while in Cleveland.

More importantly, because there are so many folks trying to do the same thing, you to have a post-conference follow up plan to ensure you’re able to nurture that quick conversation at Content Marketing World into a fully formed, mutually beneficial relationship that will endure for many conferences to come. Again, technology is there to help you, but you have to commit to using it.”

Tom Martin
Founder, Converse Digital
Speaker and among first #CMWorld 2011 attendees


“During Content Marketing World 2011, the excitement around social media was new, and marketers were still wrapping their arms around the idea of what content marketing was. As a first-year event, it was impressively organized and programmed, just like a successful content marketing program.Lee Odden Content Marketing World

The fact that CMI has actually walked the talk of content marketing since then — by expanding their brand publishing empire to include a print magazine, podcasts, books, email newsletters, blog, multiple conferences, webinars, twitter chats, and more — is a testament to the vision Joe Pulizzi has been sharing all these years.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that the content marketing industry has some of the brightest, nicest, and most talented marketers I’ve ever met. Technologies and tactics may change, but returning to Content Marketing World every year is like going back home.

To make the most out of Content Marketing World, set some goals for what you expect to achieve from the conference.  Get out of your comfort zone to meet new people (meal time is best) and definitely approach speakers for their advice. Create a plan and execute, just like you would a marketing program.”

Lee Odden
CEO & Co-Founder, TopRank Marketing
Speaker and attending #CMWorld since 2011


“We’ve come a long way since our little event in 2011 at the Renaissance Hotel in Cleveland. A few things haven’t changed: the loudness of Jay Baer’s suit jackets, the different shades of orange food, the feeling of community, and the constant challenge of building a business case for our beloved practice.Robert Rose Content Marketing World

But I think the two most pronounced changes have come in the sophistication of our use of technology, and the challenge of how to scale a content marketing team beyond just one or two practitioners.

My biggest piece of advice for those that are attending is to give yourself the gift of the days you spend there. Be IN the event. Participate. The email you need to write and the project you’re working on will still be there when you’re finished in Cleveland.

Meet someone. Learn. Have Fun. Be PRESENT at the event – and truly give yourself the gift of taking a step back, slowing down and focusing soaking up the awesomeness of the practice you love.”

Robert Rose
Founder, The Content Advisory
Speaker and attending #CMWorld since 2011


How to Network Like A Pro At Content Marketing World

The magic of conferences is in the people.

I can’t say it any better than Aaron Orendorff did In his 2017 post How to Network at a Conference: 101 Tips from Marketing’s Best.

If you’re a brand marketer who’s super outgoing, loves the opportunity to meet new people wherever you go, or even if you’re an extremely introverted person, I hope this guide helps take your networking game to the next level and you experience your best #CMWorld ever.

I’ll be heading out to Cleveland on Labor Day, and be in town through Friday, so if you’d like to connect with me, please contact me using the link at the bottom of this post. I sincerely look forward to seeing you there.

Lisa Loeffler
Nimble, Director of Digital Marketing
Attending #CMWorld 2018 & alumna


Two Weeks Ahead

Social Media

  • Follow our CMWorld Twitter Chat List: CMW Insiders to Follow, which is an inclusive list of influential speakers and attendees, as well as Lee Odden’s Twitter list of Content Marketing 2018 Speakers.
    • Follow: Follow influencers, share their content and start engaging with them ahead of the event by adding value to their social shares.
    • Message: Want to meet them IRL at CMW? If you’ve successfully connected via Twitter, send them a direct message to connect.
  • Twitter & LinkedIn: Start connecting and communicating with colleagues, influencers, vendors, and speakers more broadly using Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Facebook & Instagram: Check out the Facebook and Instagram profiles of people you want to connect with before you meet them in person. A few minutes of reviewing their personal photos will reveal a lot about their likes and passions and also provide you with icebreaker material when you meet.
  • Nimble them to expedite your research: Access people’s full social footprint, areas of influence, and company insights in one click. Look up contact details, tag them, and click to add them to your Rolodex. For existing contacts, you can also bring up their engagement history from wherever you happen to be working.
  • Systematize your outreach across social media and email, and plan multiple touch points in order to book as many meetings as possible. (Nimble makes this easy.)

Relationship Building

  • Make a date: If you only see your CMW connections once a year, make sure you connect and get on each other’s calendars before the conference begins.
  • Have concrete goals in mind: Your conference goals will influence which sessions you attend and which people you want to meet.
  • Research attendees: Set and finalize calendar days and times to connect with people you want to see there before you go.

Session Planning

  • Leave Time to Network: Schedule time for a quick meet up or get in line to meet the speaker after each session.
  • Plan Ahead: Many sessions at Content Marketing World have limited capacity, so make sure you plan ahead and get in line early for the seminars.
  • Download the #CMWorld App: Visit the app store and find the Content Marketing World 2018 app in iTunes or Google Play, or by searching “CMWorld.” This is a new app specifically for this year’s event, so be sure to download the new one. Be sure to delete last year’s app, if you still have it.
  • Create your agenda and take a look around the CMWorld App. Start networking with attendees today to meet like-minded industry peers by clicking on the “Attendees” section or start a conversation in the “Activity Feed” section.

Things To Do

How To Be A Nimble Networker


You can use these networking tips even if they are not attending in person. You can start networking with speakers and attendees ahead of time by following the hashtag and then use the same stream to keep up with what’s going on at the conference. Speakers and attendees love to tweet screenshots of slides and quotes so you can still learn a lot even by participating remotely.

One Week Ahead

Social Media

  • Conference Hashtag: To stay in touch with the pulse of the #CMWorld Twitter hashtag create some Tweets and graphics ahead of time to help amplify your presence and participation at the conference. Follow hashtagged tweets here.

Relationship Building

  • I meet many people who are intimidated by conference speakers and nervous to walk up and introduce themselves. They’re at CMW to meet new people and build new relationships, just like you. If you find an appropriate opening, walk up and introduce yourself, ask your question(s), or connect based on common interests, and be courteous of the other person’s time.
  • Prepare your mindset that you’re going to provide tremendous value to whomever you meet with.

Session Planning

  • Double check the sessions you registered for with your conference app to ensure they’re set up correctly, and make any session changes you might have based on new people you want to connect with.

Things To Do (Great Reads)

How To Be A Nimble Networker

Three Days Ahead

Social Media

  • Pursue a multi-channel approach to your social media networking. Nimble’s Founder Jon Ferrara says: “LinkedIn is like going into the lobby of your business contact. Twitter is more like going for a walk or taking them to lunch or a ballgame. Facebook is like having dinner in their home. All are great ways to connect. You need at least two of them to be effective. If I was restricted to one I’d choose Twitter. It’s the most relevantly natural way to authentically connect in a human, personal way.”

Session Planning

  • Session Q&As: Many sessions have a Q&A portion toward the end. Prepare meaningful questions you might want to ask the speaker ahead of time and sit next to the microphones to ensure you’ll have the opportunity to get your answers.

Relationship Building

  • Reach out and touch base with all of the meetups you’ve scheduled to remind people that you’re still interested in getting together. Confirm the time, date, and place (with an address) in your communications to make it easy for your friends and clients to remember.

Don’t Forget

  • Don’t forget to pack a light jacket or sweater. The conference can tend to be chilly and you don’t want to get caught without one. Plus, the winds are always changing on Cleveland’s Erie Lake.
  • Meet and Greet with the CMI Team If you are arriving early to Content Marketing World and have some free time Monday evening, swing by Eliot’s Bar at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown and meet the Content Marketing Institute team between 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm.

How To Be A Nimble Networker

  • Keep an eye on your Today Page dashboard.  The data visualization tool serves up contextual insights that help you use your remaining time wisely.

At the #CMWorld Event

Social Media

  • Conference Hashtag: #CMWorld
  • LinkedIn: After you meet someone at the conference, connect with them on LinkedIn. Too busy? Grab their business card (scan it, if you’re using Nimble) or take a photo with their conference badge next to their face so you can circle back later

Session Planning

  • Attending sessions and meeting people will keep you busy and on your toes. You will learn the most if you sit in the front of sessions and stay engaged with the speaker. This was a strategy Andy Crestodina, Barry Feldman and I used for years, and at Social Media Marketing World too.

Relationship Building

  • Do you typically stay in your team cliques, or are you more on the shy side? Make it a point to meet at least 10 new people every day at the conference. Set a personal goal; if you meet with 50 new people and connect via LinkedIn, reward yourself.

Don’t Forget

  • Passionate about pups and looking for a way to unwind after Wednesday’s closing keynote at CMW? Don’t miss CMW Yappy Hour with City Dogs Cleveland, where you’ll have the chance to play with a furry friend.

How To Be A Nimble Networker

Use the Mobile app to scan business cards, take notes during meetings, schedule follow up task, and (for iPhone users) send templated, trackable emails during the show.

One Week After Event

Social Media

  • Continue the conversations you started and build relationships you spurred at CMW.
  • Don’t forget to check the #CMWorld hashtag for anything you might have missed.

Relationship Building

  • How Can You Help: Did you make an offer to colleagues or new connections at CMW? Make sure you follow up on any promises you made or just reach out and ask if there’s anything they need. Be genuine and don’t offer your help in the hopes of anything in return.

Don’t Forget (Great Reads)

How To Be A Nimble Networker

  • Use Tracking in Nimble to keep an eye on who’s opening your emails and who is not. Create templates for follow-ups and send them a few days later to get on top of people’s inboxes.
  • Use Templates in Nimble to send everybody thank you notes. Don’t forget to include a call-to-action; do you want to connect for a phone call to learn more about each other and explore possible collaborations? Include your calendar link in the template!

Let’s Connect at #CMWorld

If you’d like to connect and meet up with me, talk content marketing, or learn about how to use Nimble, select a time to get together here. If you meet up with me, I’ll share a Nimble discount that will kick in at the end of your free trial.

If you think you’ll find yourself in back-to-back sessions and don’t have time to meet up during conference hours, I’ll also be attending most of the CMW festivities. We’ll have the chance to meet at one of those events too, or you can email me at [email protected].

If you want to learn how to hit the ground running with Nimble before #CMWorld, book a personal demo with Nimble’s Jenna Dobkin, Director of Communications, at [email protected].

Don’t worry, if you haven’t secured your CMW ticket there’s still time. Head over to the Content Marketing World website to learn how to be a part of this year’s content marketing experience.

Looking forward to reconnecting and meeting new friends this year in Cleveland — See you there!

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