AJ Huisman has either attended or spoken at Content Marketing World since 2011. The founder of Y Content, a B2B content marketing consultancy company, is again speaking at the event, with his talk, “How to turn highly billable professionals into extremely productive content marketing rock stars that get bottom-line results.”
Huisman spoke with Smart Business about the draw of CMW, the impact it has had on his career and what the uninitiated can expect by attending.
SB: How has content marketing changed since you began attending and speaking at Content Marketing World?
AJ: I attended and spoke at the very first Content Marketing World back in 2011. Back then there were just about 600 people in the Renaissance hotel on Public Square wandering around the corridors looking for interesting sessions. What struck me is that it was such an open community — nice people, both speakers and attendees, who were willing to share and learn.
That hasn’t changed a bit in all those years, but the industry has grown up. There are many more tools to help marketers make the most out of their efforts, especially with regard to marketing automation, content planning and production support, and ROI measurement.
SB: How has being involved with CMW affected your approach to content marketing?
AJ: When I first met Joe Pulizzi in 2010, I realized that what he was preaching was something I had been doing and it finally had a name: content marketing. Joe asked me to tell the story of how I got busy professionals in the B2B space hooked on content marketing. Soon after I was on stage with people that I knew only from their books and online fame —my heroes. The community was so welcoming that I quickly became part of the group.
On a daily basis, CMW and the people working with it inspire me through their blogs, podcasts, books and events. It keeps me on my toes. I want to learn and stay ahead to up my game every chance I get and CMW helps me do that.
SB: What is it that drives you to continue to attend and speak at CMW events?
AJ: The friends I have made over all the years that I see in Cleveland every first week of September keep me going. It’s like a three-day party mixed with a three-day study tour on the highest level. I make new friends every year. We all share a common goal and that is to teach and be taught to get to next level, and have a drink when we’re in the many social events that CMW puts on all week.
SB: How would you characterize the pace of change in content marketing and how does CMW help those who do this work keep up with current trends?
AJ: As Joe presented last year, we’re in a period in the industry where we went so fast that people are questioning the effectiveness of content marketing. This has a lot to do with the fact that many have jumped on the content marketing bandwagon. And because most are not delivering, they are diluting the sense of overall impact.
However, this is also a period where the real professionals will stand out and continue to prove that this works. The pseudo content marketers will fail and slowly disappear from the scene. CMW does a great job supporting the real-deal people and tries hard to discourage the pseudo group, or at least educate them.
SB: What should no one ask Mark Hamill if they meet him at CMW?
AJ: Three things:
- At the opening of CMW: “Luke, it’s Joe Pulizzi!”
- At the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame party: “Hey Mark! Who’s your daddy?!”
- At the CMW lunch table: “Use the fork, Luke!”
SB: When you talk to people who aren’t sure whether or not they’ll attend CMW, what do you say to convince them to go?
AJ: When you want to meet the brightest minds in the industry and talk to them one-on-one or see them on stage to fast forward your content marketing knowledge then this is the place to be. And it’s also great fun. So hold on to your hat and enter the content marketing knowledge and shenanigans bubble for three days and leave so inspired that you can’t wait to get back to work to implement all these nuggets.