Content Marketing World is moving fast and furious! Day 1 kicked off with half-day workshops, and two of our team members were onsite. Check out the highlights below:

Amanda Vasil, social media strategist: We haven’t been able to stop talking about it for weeks: Cleveland is rocking. LeBron, the Republican National Convention, and right now Content Marketing World has taken over downtown. Orange everywhere, and so many marketers running around the city. It’s my first #CMWorld experience, and only 3.5 hours in, I’m already hooked.

Today’s breakout workshop session was one of the most intimate settings I’ve been at during a conference. Capped at 50-60 people, I actually got to stand up, say my name and explain a little about my business challenges. I spent the afternoon discussing sales enablement strategies. In other words, how create content that can be leveraged by sales teams.

What did I learn? That 50 percent of marketers are sending filled forms directly to their sales teams and considering it a “lead.” I’m still not convinced that “marketing” content and “sales” content are two different things, but I did like Ardath Albee’s perspective on “The Continuum Experience” – the ribbons of marketing and sales along the buying cycle. Lots of great conversion about developing buyer personas, working with sales to identify content needs, and determining the best ways to educate on emerging technologies and social media.

The flavor of today’s Content Marketing World has me hungry for the rest of the week!

Kate Eidam, portfolio lead: While we can talk about content creation all day long, what you do with that content is equally if not more important. What good is creating engaging and compelling content if you don’t know how your audience will respond to it? Or better yet, how do you know if it’s compelling if you’re not monitoring audience response? Or what if it’s compelling, but you share it at the wrong step in their buying cycle?

We tackled some of these questions (and a ton more) during the Demand Generation workshop with Annuitas’ Carlos Hildago. He broke down the demand generation challenges, among them securing qualified leads for sales, correctly identifying buyers and maximizing the return of demand generation investments.

For someone like me who gets giddy at the thought of meaningful data, this session was a windfall. He cited a number of sources, but the data highlights included:

  • Only 2.8 percent of marketers rated their demand generation programs as ‘very effective’ (Source: Annuitas).
  • Average B2B buyers complete 57 percent of their buyer journey before ever engaging with a sales rep (Source: CEB).
  • 51% of inbound traffic comes from organic search.
  • Sales reps report only 31 percent of all leads fit their ideal customer profile (Source: Vorsight).

Hidalgo dug into buyer personas (best reminder of the session: “Don’t focus on titles, focus on roles!”) and related his experience that the sales process is never a funnel or waterfall. He was extremely transparent with us, sharing real-world examples from his business (names and proprietary data redacted, of course) and was open to being challenged on a particular point by the audience (name withheld to protect the guilty).

It was great to hear another perspective and process on demand generation. It’s a reminder that there is no one way to do content marketing, lead generation and marketing automation. It’s an always evolving, always fluid process, and with the data and insights we can now gather, it makes marketing even more valuable to a company’s bottom line. What marketer in their right mind isn’t more excited by that?!

The day wasn’t all work though…it wrapped up with the Ohio City Pub Crawl. I met some great new friends from St. Louis who didn’t even blink when I crashed their table.

It was incredibly exciting to listen to folks from around the country – LA, Denver, Detroit, NYC, London – proclaim how great Cleveland is. I felt a bit like a proud mama! Bring it on Day 2!!

Check back all week for new info and perspectives. For real-time conference updates, follow the conversation at:

Lukas Treu: @LTreu
Amanda Vasil: @avasilicious
Kate Eidam: @kateeidam