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Zombie Content Kills Kittens and Other Lessons from NMX 2014

Discover what iAcquire learned at NMX, including how to be more thoughtful marketers. Also find out the secret behind the ClearVoice platform for authors.

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Bloggers, writers, podcasters, video creators, social media thought leaders and content marketers across every major genre converged on Las Vegas, January 4-6 for the seventh annual NMX New Media Expo. Presented by BlogWorld, the three-day conference is the world’s largest gathering of new media movers, shakers and creators. For the iAcquire team, the conference was an opportunity to rub shoulders with like-minded content ninjas and get a jump on gauging reception to the ClearVoice writer’s platform while still in Beta.

Here are our key takeaways from the 2014 NMX conference:

Be Kind to Kittens

Anyone within earshot of Sunday morning’s keynote address would have thought a stand-up comedian had hijacked the stage. President of UnMarketing and author of QR Codes Kill Kittens: How to Alienate Customers, Dishearten Employees, and Drive Your Business into the Ground, Scott Stratton, is not a comedian and he doesn’t hate cats. He’s an outspoken master of pointing out the bad decisions that marketers make on a daily basis — using technology because it’s nifty not because it’s appropriate, creating campaigns around world disasters, insulting or ignoring dissatisfied customers, automating “authenticity” and so on.

His premise is that if you knew that every thoughtless business decision you made took the life of a kitten, would you still make it? Of course you wouldn’t. Yet, endless examples paint a reckless picture. Case in point: An urban shopping mall posted a QR code on their front door. They made it just small enough so that you would need to hold your phone within a foot of the door to scan the code. You know what’s coming. The door automatically opens when you get close enough to capture the code. A kitten just died. And yes, a mall really did this.

His central point, and one that reverberated throughout the weekend, was that as content marketers, our job is not to talk at our customers but to get to know them, respond to their complaints with a benevolent and receptive ear, to be their advocates. Customers, clients and in some respects, employees are now driving the conversation through their interactions with online content and via social media. Don’t be absent. Market smart. Save a kitten.

Kill the Zombies

On a similar note, a fundamental theme that echoed throughout the NMX 2014 workshops and sessions was that if your content isn’t compelling and meaningful to your target readers, kill it. Take a crowbar to every driveling adverb and banal expression. Drop an Egyptian obelisk smack on the head of brand-inflated marketing speak. Better yet, cram the entire piece into a woodchipper and start over. Zombie content was defined by speaker Tamsen Webster, vice president of strategy at Social Media Explorer, as content that puts the needs of the brands before those of the customer. In other words, zombie content is simply advertising dressed up in beguiling words meant to trick the reader into buying into the brand message. And it must be stopped. Why? Zombie content is constructing a brick wall between brands and customers. The more bricks in the wall, the more droves of customers we’re driving away. Stop it.

Take off the marketer hat and put yourself in the seat of the customer. Remember where your content ends up (live Facebook feeds for example) and ask yourself if it can compete with cute cat videos and mugshots of ex-boyfriends. It better be good. And if it’s not, run over it with a car. Then back up and run over it again to make sure it’s dead.

Pay Your Writers

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Writers want to get paid for their work. Not earth-shattering news by any means but clearly a struggle in a world where great content and crap content are battling it out in the Octagon of online media. The written word has become a commodity in the fight for relevant, high-ranking visibility and by all accounts, we’re only in round one. Enter ClearVoice, a writer’s empowerment platform focused on rewarding writers for quality work and cutting the crap.

For the iAcquire team in attendance, the pinnacle of the conference was Saturday’s two-hour speed networking session where we unveiled ClearVoice to a room of hungry content creators. From the first bell, the ClearVoice table was rocking as the team fielded questions in rapid succession from a roomful of pre-qualified writers. Really. We had a line.

Before you go dropping an obelisk on our heads for the blatant self-promotion, the experience was truly humbling. Obviously, we were determined not to harm a single kitten and be clear in our messaging that we were not a zombie content machine. Writers in general though have an innate suspicion of people who want to pay them for what they do best. The unique “selling” point of ClearVoice was VoiceRank, a proprietary feature that will elevate the writer’s voice on the Web while analyzing and measuring each contributor’s projection. Huge. Ultimately, the team was successful in delivering the ClearVoice message to a highly charged handful of elite writers along with connecting directly with potential contributors and influencers within the new media arena.

All told, NMX 2014 was an invaluable experience on multiple levels. iAcquire team members connected personally with creative geniuses such as content rockstar Barry Feldman, superstar bloggista Carolyn Stephens, and Google+ guru Amanda Blain to name (drop) a few. A side effect was that our own content strategies were reinvigorated. Most importantly, we were able to measure the potential of ClearVoice in its early stages. No zombies here.