I had heard the expression Cleveland Rocks for years, but yet had never set my feet on the soil of Ohio until this past week when I was brought to Cleveland to speak at the first ever Content Marketing World.
Now, I have to be truthful and say that even though I'm considered an expert on content marketing and co-authored the best selling book Content Rules, I still wasn't completely sold on the need for two days of cheerleading and back patting each other about how important content is.
But, I'm here to tell you that in it's first year with over 600 attendees from 18 countries, this conference delivered and I have no doubt that it has a bright future.
I say this because every talk I saw and panel I attended delivered. There was a variety of speakers from companies of all sizes with unique stories to tell and they were sharing them openly with all who asked. Plus, any conference that opens up with the ever fascinating Sally Hogshead and closes with the eternally funny Kevin Smith is going to be a good time. (Yes, THAT Kevin Smith and to every doubter out there, the man is great inspiration to me and my career and I'll be sharing that story soon.)
Joe Pulizzi and his entire team organized an amazing event. While I was officially sick of orange by the end of it all (just not my color, but it obviously is his), I left smiling and inspired to create better content. They deserve huge kudos for pulling off such an impressive and well organized first event. I don't know how they did it and they've certainly given themselves a high bar to soar over for next year.
If I have any suggestions for next year it would be not to have back to back keynotes first thing in the morning. Even when the second one is my friend David Meerman Scott who always brings a ton of energy, experience and stories to the stage, it is tough to sit through 2 1/2 hours right out of the gate first thing in the morning. I also hope that there are more case studies next year. Really detailed ones that talk a project from conception to execution. There may have been some of those in sessions I didn't attend, but I know everyone would benefit from more of these.
And, please whatever you do, don't move it out of Cleveland. The unique charm and vibe of the city really worked for me and I want a reason to go back. Plus, I didn't get to spend enough time in the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame during the opening party and I really want some more yummy goodness from Lola Bistro and Great Lakes Brewing.
Make sure you put Content Marketing World 2012 on your radar for next year. You don't want to miss it.
Photo Credit: Shashi Bellamkonda