My first instinct was to call this post, “Everything I learned at My First ITEXPO,” but I quickly realized that touching on all the information I took in during our trip to Las Vegas would likely require 10,000 words. (Quick reminder, Content Boost’s parent company TMC sponsors ITEXPO, a biannual trade show in Miami and Vegas each year.)
So rather than try to recap four whirlwind days, I figured I’d instead touch on some of the highlights. To help me better organize my thoughts—I’m still catching up on sleep—I broke my ITEXPO education into categories:
Where do I begin? I guess the natural starting point is a shout-out to my two co-workers, Carrie Majewski and Allison Boccamazzo for their roles in Thursday morning’s keynote, “Be All in With Content Marketing.” Allison, our managing content producer, did a fantastic job moderating the panel session, particularly with opening remarks that set the tone for a lively discussion. Did you know, for example, that 71 percent of marketers are increasing their content marketing investments this year alone, according to research from Curata?
Carrie, our director here at Content Boost, sat on the panel and offered some wonderful insights. What resonated most with me as a theme in Carrie’s answers was how important authenticity is as an ingredient to successful content production. Although the ultimate goal of content marketing, like it is for any marketing tactic, is to drive business, content marketing is really about telling stories that your target audience can relate to and helping them solve real-world problems. Carrie advocated strongly for tying relevant, timely news and personal experiences into content, something we regard as a key component in the services we offer here at Content Boost.
On Monday I got to meet with countless representatives of businesses attending the show. Let me just say, there are some really cool innovations out there. I got a live demo of an application called HER, created by HumansFirst as a kind of “next-generation Siri.” HER delivers incredibly fast, accurate search results from voice commands and brings you immediately to a page where you can buy the product you are searching for, if you so desire. I highly recommend giving it a try yourself.
After the content marketing panel on Thursday morning came a keynote by iRobot’s Director of Business Development Karl Dahlin, which was, for lack of a better term, awesome. Dahlin showcased one of his company’s robots on stage and explained its mind-blowing capabilities. The machine was built as a collaboration tool and, as such, atop the robot sits a large screen where the user’s face is displayed. This completely autonomous machine is intelligent enough to be aware of its surroundings, meaning it can navigate hallways, elevators and anything else that might appear in an office environment. As a result, the user can navigate the workspace as if he or she was present, even from thousands of miles away. Personally, as I watched the presentation, I felt like I’d been launched 50 years into the future.
This was not only my first ITEXPO, but my first tradeshow as well. My background is in journalism, so the production side of content marketing always felt pretty natural, but I have to admit I was a bit nervous about moderating panels, swapping business cards and talking shop at the conference. But as it turned out, networking was perhaps my favorite parts of the show.
The bottom line is that almost everybody I met at ITEXPO was passionate about whatever they came to the show for and was thrilled to get a chance to talk about their core competencies. As marketers, we have to remember the importance of being invigorated by our core offerings and treating each network opportunity with the enthusiasm it deserves. Moreover, we have to be ready to observe and listen—key components of best-of-breed marketers. Listening intently is crucial, because the products and innovations these attendees discuss mean a lot to them. And of course, cliché as it might sound, I felt most comfortable meeting with folks when I could let my guard down and be myself. I shared some laughs with some vendors and panelists and learned so much from so many of them.
As I mentioned earlier, trying to fit everything from my trip into one blog entry would have been a fool’s errand, but hopefully I provided a little insight into what the week was like for a newbie. Oh, and I learned one more important lesson as well—the next time I get a chance to attend ITEXPO, I’ll know exactly what to expect.