Deep thinking on content marketing (and more)…

10 08 2018


I recently stumbled across a podcast called After-On by Rob Reid. He also wrote a book of the same name which Seth Godin called a “Rollicking tech pop-culture thrill ride”, which I haven’t read yet but it’s on the list.

On a recent trip I ended up listening to a podcast Rob did with Chris Anderson from TED. You can listen to that episode here. It’s not short, they go into a deep dive about Chris’s life experiences and how he over saw the growth of TED! But put in the prism of content marketing (which we’ve been revisiting recently) I thought it was a fascinating look at a conference, man and brand that really lead the development of content marketing for events.

Some of the themes that struck me:

Power of free – I’ve blogged about this before (and read a book by a guy with a similar name). But The TED conference is probably the most compelling case study of both free and content in the event business.   If in doubt take another look at this chart, it highlights the impact free content (2006) had on attendance and price, it’s an oldie but a goodie:


The threat of click bait – Or maybe it would be better to say the threat of click bait and where it might lead if content marketers aren’t sparing in its use, or don;t deliver on the promise.

The risk of sponsored content – Chris talks about how TED has avoided advertising between videos, so as not to create barriers to the core concept of spreading ideas (They do have some advertising). I’m not sure I agree the two things are mutually exclusive, but it does highlight how important it is to work with sponsors on crafting a compelling message that resonates with your audience.

Complex measures of quality – We need to move beyond email metrics, downloads and traffic metrics to measure the efficiency of content marketing. So how do you measure quality or effectiveness, Chris suggest’s using 3 axis’s; progressing the conversation, painting an optimistic world view, and inspiration. Maybe loftier goals than most content marketing, but it dives back to the idea that in content marketing you should always add more value than you can capture. The reader should get some significant insight, something scarce, or something unique that helps their work or life.

The power of video – Just go to and you won’t be to many clicks away from some inspirational video. Chris talks about how online video is potentially driving the renaissance of public speaking and how online video might just be as powerful as the invention of the printing press.

Ultimately…Spreading ideas – It was refreshing to here Chris talk about how effective conferences (& content) can be at spreading ideas, influencing people and changing behaviors. All of which is easy to forget when you’re busy marketing your next conference, but should be at the heart of every event (& the marketing copy!).

Next time you have a spare hour to kill, I recommend listening to any of After-On podcasts.