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CS Forum 2013 Closing panel

CS Forum 2013’s closing panel was a strange affair. Moderated by Cleve Gibbon, it saw six of the event’s speakers sharing the stage in various degrees of repose – though not quite all at the same time. The panellists were: Kristina Halvorson (KH), Katrina Craigwell (KC), Daniel Eizans (DE), Jarkko Kurvinen (JK), Jeff Eaton (JE) and Margot Bloomstein (MB).


The starting subject was a simple one: how does one go about selling content strategy in to clients? As can be expected, the answers quickly drifted off track, but there was entertainment to be had therein.

Fundamentally, the answers provided were basic business: demonstrate return on investment, be honest and trustworthy; then people will want to do business with you. Don’t try blinding clients with science: they really don’t care how you are going to achieve the strategy; they want the results. Also, show some restraint – you may need to be on every new social trend, but most of your clients probably don’t. Let’s face it, if you are resorting to the channel as the message, you probably have a content problem. (The same goes for gimmick content.)

Drifting into behaviours of the internet ecosystem, and promoting your own business, general advice was imparted regarding the use of social media: it is a two-way communication channel which must be embraced as such to have value; and in the modern world, how good you are really doesn’t matter – you will be judged (rightly or wrongly) on the social proof associated with your digital footprint.

Blogging got its moment of attention: there was general agreement that blogging is about sharing because you have something to say. However, the suggestions on when differed. Some saw it as a marketing channel that needs fresh content, so you should practise that approach so you know just what you are recommending to clients. Others came down on the side of publishing when you have something worth saying, not just to a schedule (in other words: learn to shut up).

The final theme was launched with the question “Why do content people hate content management so much?” Luckily, this was answered in terms of what the real question should have been: “Why do content people hate content management systems so much?” All the answers followed a fairly consistent theme: content management systems are generally not developed with the content people in mind; they have terrible author experience. The reasons for this vary, but usually come down to a lack of information exchange with, and understanding by, developers. After all, how can you develop something meaningful if you don’t understand what it is you are trying to achieve?

 Raw notes:

  • You need to get your client’s trust. That is what will get the client to give you the … MONEY! (JK)
  • We (GE) are not going to be selling a jet engine on Facebook any time soon. (but maybe Groupon) (KC)
  • The true value of content strategy is a basic ROI model. Invest through a sound business plan. (DE)
  • Put the what before the how in your content strategy / information architecture. (DE)
  • You don’t need gimmick marketing content to promote your brand. (DE)
  • The trend over the internet is “new channel,” jump on it as another way to engage tactically. (Bad) (KH)
  • The channel is not the important thing. Create content for value. (KH)
  • The solution is “do away with Chief marketing Officer” (KH)
  • Content marketing is not about the internet. In person, books, etc are all part of it. (JK)
  • “My experience of CMO’s is that they have the attention span of my 9-year-old” (KH)
  • The only difference between pre- and post-internet content marketing is a bajjillion channels. (KH)
  • On channels with feedback… you’ve got to listen. (KC)
  • If your product can’t speak for itself, if you need gimmick content to get eyeballs, maybe your business deserves to fail. (DE)
  • The current definition of “expert” depends on social proof. If you don’t leave a footprint… you’re history. (JK)
  • There are a lot of things I don’t do because I can’t do them well. (MB)
  • If you’re going to have a blog… publish because you have something to say. (MB)
  • We didn’t realise we were doing content marketing. We were just talking about things we were doing and were excited about. (JE)
  • Learn to recycle client deliverables. Real-time (anonymised) mini-case studies. (JE)
  • Your blog isn’t only about selling/marketing. It’s a way of learning, too. (Ilona Hiila)
  • Write to your own blog – to your schedule – so you know how hard that is for your clients.(Ilona Hiila)
  • Why have a blog if it’s something you are a slave to? (MB)
  • They don’t need content marketing. They need better customer experience. (JK)
  • I’m fine with content management, to the extent that it is happy with us (i.e. content strategy). (MB)
  • I hate it (current CMS) less than the last one. (KC)
  • Great content doesn’t help you if the only one who knows about it is your mummy. (JK)
  • Developers need to know why the systems they are presented with wireframes for do what they do. It lets them succeed. (JE)
  • Developers need to speak the language of those defining the requirements. And get in to the party early. (JE)
  • “It’s an out of the box CMS implementation.” That’s up there with unicorns and Santa Claus (MB)
  • We need people who can give a real view of the technical, and also understand the softer side of content strategy. (KC)
  • Design is not about how it looks. How it looks is an after effect of (content) design. (JE)

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