Last week I spoke at the 2017 Intelligent Content Conference (ICC) in Las Vegas. The goal of the event, clearly stated on its website, is “the movement away from the copy/paste mentality of most marketers, toward a format-free, modular and single-source approach to content creation and distribution.”
Or, after chipping through those buzzword-loaded layers, “automating the process of creating and distributing content.” “Work smarter, not harder,” as the phrase goes.
After attending several sessions, watching the social media behavior of those seated near me and visiting every booth on the small tradeshow floor, I came away disturbed by several trends I witnessed. Here was a conference filled with a few thousand marketers who seemed unaware of how to actually market themselves, their insights and ideas, and their products.
My first clue was the completely illegible set of PowerPoint slides that supported a few keynote speakers. While I was seated near the back of the room, there were two very large screens displaying the content. In many, many instances, the speaker had created visually stunning charts, graphs, or other diagrams, but the type was so teeny tiny it was impossible to read. Intelligence score? Zero.
Next, I watched fellow attendees raise their phones to snap pictures of the PPT screen. Hmmm … I thought, perhaps they are saving it, then zooming in later to read it. But then I witnessed the guy next to me madly typing away after taking a photo, so perhaps he was sending those insights to a colleague. But no, it turns out he was tweeting from the event. Did he add any intelligence or pithy insight to his tweet? Sadly no. Like many, he merely tweeted a copy of the slide and acknowledged the speaker. Intelligence score? Zero.
At conferences like this one, I like to visit each sponsor’s booth not only as a way to boost my own intelligence but to support those companies that have invested their money to attend. I asked each individual who approached me to give me their best elevator pitch — what was the product/service, and how could it benefit me as a marketer. Ninety percent were unable to simplify their pitch or tell me the biggest major benefit. They might have complex products that could probably undertake complex tasks, but they were unable to synthesize the information in order for me to wrap my head around it. Intelligence score? Zero.
My final disappointment is a quote from one of the main conference hosts and speakers, Robert Rose. While he offered many valuable insights and comments, when trying to make a point about how marketers often try to translate analogue content into digital content, he missed the mark by a long shot. For example, books have become e-books. True. But what stopped me cold was that he snorted over the word “whitepaper” and said, “Come on people, it’s a PDF!” Intelligence score? Zero.
So I have to ask: Where’s the value in automating content delivery if marketers aren’t creating unique and intelligent content?