I just completed a three day workshop called Content Camp. This event was geared toward all types of business owners and agencies, and was jam-packed with informative and well-organized lessons and worksheets. Content Camp was created and run by Jennifer Bourn, a successful agency owner, marketer and blogger.
About 60 guests were greeted warmly with a 212 page workbook! The workshop began with a thorough dive into branding and marketing messaging. A marketer myself, this exercise was surprisingly helpful. I had recently conducted a marketing review as part of my agency’s recent specialization in websites for small schools and other education-focused organizations. It was helpful to see Jennfer’s brand messaging worksheets and confirm to myself my business focus and elevator pitch.
The sessions were thoughtfully organized to progress over three days from marketing message, story telling and content strategy, to content planning and keyword research, and then marketing with sessions on Facebook advertising, video editing for social media and repurposing content. Each day was jam-packed with information and time for applying lessons to worksheets.
An added bonus was the thoughtful attention to the lunches provided. I really appreciated healthy salads, vegetables and meat skewers.
Content Camp kicked off with presentations from Jennifer Bourn about brand messaging. The marketing message template was very helpful, and I can see my agency, Design TLC, using a version of this with our clients to help them focus on their main message. The Benefit & Risk Statement section of the marketing message workshop was more challenging for me, but it did force me to think through pain points for my prospective clients, and what I have identified as the benefits my existing clients describe about working with me. I especially liked the prompt to refine this statement to include more emotion, making it more compelling. The resulting message makes a good “elevator pitch” which comes in handy when introducing myself at meetings and conferences.
Story Telling with ChrisLema
Chris Lema followed Jennifer with one of two story telling sessions. Chris is a master story teller, and framed this skill as a marketing tactic and a framework for developing messaging and content. The workshop exercises drew from the marketing messages we created with Jennifer earlier in the day. The main take away from this presentation was to be sure to focus on solving problems vs. talking about yourself/your brand. After lunch and the AMA’s (see below), Chris described 5 types of stories to turn strangers into clients. We were directed to come up with a “story” from our experience for each type of story. For example, a Destination Story describes customer success and results.
There were two AMA “Ask Me Anything” sessions during lunch each day. I originally bought a “Super Early Bird VIP Ticket” for Content Camp, which included lunch and an opportunity to chat with some experts in the field. Apparently, everyone wanted to be a VIP, so the conference changed to include lunch and these general AMA sessions instead.
The first day, Katie Elenberger of Spark 27 Creative answered questions about branding, and Jeanne Mabry, Vice President of Marketing for Mikuni Restaurant Group talked about marketing in general. Both had good answers and the audience had a lot of great questions.
The day ended with a Content Mapping session with Jennifer. We used the workbooks to brainstorm different primary offers and related content topics for our business. From there, we were introduced to Jennifer’s worksheets for content mapping, including categories and tags and related topics for every single blog post! This was overkill for me. I use a Google Sheet to keep track of blog ideas, so didn’t use these sheets. I also don’t really use tags, but this motivated me to set a goal to clean up, organize and use them on my site to help me organize my content in order to meet my objectives. In fact, at the end of this section of the workbook, Jennifer prompted us to evaluate our existing content to compare how it matches up with the new content map. “The goal is to create rich, valuable, highly-focused archives of content that demonstrate expertise on a specific topic and signal your authority and worth to search engines.”
The second day continued the content planning we started the day before with a really helpful presentation and workshop by Lindsay Halsey of Pathfinder SEO. Lindsey reviewed the key concepts of keyword research, walked us through some strategies and tools for conducting this research and shared a 5 Step Process for Keyword Research.
- Know Your Audience
- Map Your Website
- Brainstorm Keywords
- Evaluate & Prioritize
The worksheets were helpful in identifying some of these steps. Again, since I prefer Google Sheets over handwritten lists for things like this, I did most of this work on my laptop. The tools and research we conducted after brainstorming were all online, so it was easy to copy and paste this way. I found the review helpful, even though we already do keyword research and have some premium tools for quantifying and evaluating keywords. Lindsay shared a free trial of Pathfinder SEO, a “Guided SEO” tool for anyone who needs direction and information during the keyword research and ongoing analysis. It is very user friendly, and they offer white labeling for agencies. Side note: As a sponsor of Content Camp, we learned more about how Pathfinder SEO works from Lori Calcott, and one lucky attendee one a neat backpack, water bottle and headlamp!
A Year of Content
Next Jennifer led us through more worksheets which were directed at brainstorming and prepping a YEAR of content! This was advertised in the pre-conference information and I was excited to see if this was actually something I would accomplish. While I did not plot out the full year, I did manage to expand my list of blog post ideas. We did two exercises with some pre-printed cards. First, we brainstormed ideas alone, and then we broke into groups. I found the group session to be very helpful, as others have a fresh perspective and I felt we all contributed some great ideas to each other. Each idea card has a space for a Category, Tags, Headline, Content Outline, Focus Keywords, Image, Persuasive Meta Description, Content Call to Action, Content Upgrade and Repurpose Plan. For my process, I can see each of these being a column in my own blog idea/planning spreadsheet rather than a stack of cards.
The first AMA on Day Two was with Shannon Shaffer of Purple Finch Studios. Shannon is a specialist in creating websites that convert, and answered questions about marketing strategy. Next was Heather Atherton of Atherton Public Relations who talked about PR strategies, including influencer marketing and brand partnerships.
After lunch we met Sydni Craig-Hart of Smart Simple Marketing. With Sydni, we workshopped writing successful conversion copy and calls to action (CTA). We brainstormed some compelling offers and CTAs, and then outlined follow up email series content. Since I do not drive a lot of traffic to my site, this has not been a focus for me, but it is something to be more thorough about when planning websites for my clients.
Content Strategy & Planning with Kim Doyal
The final presentation and workshop of the day was with Kim Doyal. I have followed Kim on her podcast “The WordPress Chick” for many years, and it was so wonderful to meet her in person! She gave a typically energized and passionate overview of content strategy and planning, and shared some elements of her new Content Creators Planner with us. Like Jennifer’s worksheets, Kim’s planner was extremely thorough, and included “micro-content” which I learned is comprised of images and videos for social media and other platforms. All the content is planned and organized and then scheduled on a calendar. Again, since I am more of an online person when it comes to planning content, I prefer to use CoSchedule and my Google Sheet to plan my content, but if you like to handwrite and fill out worksheets, this planner looks amazing! Kim’s signature quote is “Everything is Content!”
I must admit I was tired by the last day of Content Camp. It’s been a long time since I went to school, and paying attention for 2 long days was a challenge for me! But Day Three kicked off with a really engaging presentation by Justin Wise about Facebook advertising. Justin’s agency, Think Digital manges millions of dollars of Facebook ads and his knowledge and experience were really valuable. He shared some great advice on how to write ad copy for Facebook.
Following Justin’s powerful talk, Jennifer prompted us to think about reusing our content to maximize its value.
This concept really stuck with me, and I plan to go over content I have already created to think of other ways it can be used. I also developed a list of content/articles that could be grouped into an eBook or checklist to use as a lead magnet.
The lunchtime AMAs on the last day were with Josh Unfried of Wind Farm Marketing and Julie Gallagher of Get On The Map. Josh answered questions about lead generation and Julie covered social media strategy.
After lunch, we had to pull out our homework! I hadn’t completely focused on the homework assignment listed in the workbook and mentioned a few times, but thankfully my roommates were all on top of it. We each were told to create a short (under two minute) selfie-style video with a marketing or sales message. Shaina Weisinger of Repurpose House walked us through creating/repurposing video and creating templates and video memes for use on social media. She showed us how to use Canva and Headliner (both free tools) to create the meme artwork and to caption the videos. I had trouble with mine during the session, as the upload was not working, so have it on my post-camp To Do list! The workbook has step by step instructions, so I am pretty sure I will find it easy to do. I am inspired to do some video blogging, so this extra content will come in handy.
Wrapping It Up
To wrap up the amazing conference, Jennifer went over creating a marketing reference guide. I admit that by this point, my brain was on overload, and I was even less inclined to write in the workbook, so at this point I started creating some online Google Sheet versions of some of the key worksheets in the workbook to fill out later. I am going to make this part of my 12 Week Year plan, to work on my website content and to approach it more strategically and structurally following some of the tips from this amazing conference.
The Photo Booth
One last note! Chris Lema set up a fun photo booth, and we were challenged to take lots of photo booth selfies and share them online to be entered for some prizes. GoDaddy Pro, one of the sponsors, gave away gift cards to the randomly-drawn winners. While I didn’t win, I took a good number of selfies you can find on Twitter with the #contentcamp hashtag!
Content Camp was very informative and an amazing value. While I don’t think it would be necessary to go again, I recommend it to others. I hope to hold myself accountable for putting into action some of the things I learned to help improve my own business, and help my clients grow their businesses, too.