Content Marketing World Sees a 54 Percent Increase in Attendance in Cleveland

September 23, 2014

The fourth annual Content Marketing World (CMWorld), a Content Marketing Institute event, took place Sept. 8-11, 2014 at the Cleveland Convention Center and saw a huge 54 percent attendee uptick.

The event attracted 2,595 delegates from 50 countries, with 33 companies sending seven or more representatives. That is a significant jump in attendance from the 2013 event, which had just more than 1,700 delegates. The first CMWorld drew 600 delegates

The exhibit floor grew as well, with 80 exhibitors participating, which was up from 60 exhibitors last year. To accommodate start-ups, CMWorld created in an innovation zone on the showfloor that gave them a smaller footprint at a reduced rate. That option only was available to new exhibitors and was a one-time opportunity.

The exhibit hall also contained a media lounge, meet-up area, social lounge, bookstore and was where all attendees had to funnel through to get to the main keynote stage. The exhibit hall also featured the Wall Street Journal stage where panel discussions took place all throughout the day.

Steve Rotter, vice president digital marketing solutions for Brightcove, a returning exhibitor to CMWorld, explained why they participated. “Absolutely great content, great energy and for us, it’s the center of the universe for content marketing. There’s a lot of confusion in the marketing place. Content Marketing World brings it all together with people who’ve been immersed in this topic.”

An unsuspecting person walking through downtown Cleveland might wonder just what’s going on when they find themselves surrounded by hundreds of people decked out in orange clothing, a color that has become synonymous with Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute and CMWorld.

You see, CMWorld doesn’t just attract attendees, it’s attended by devoted fans that are part of a larger Content Marketing Institute community. What does Pulizzi think about so many people adopting his trademark color?

“To me, this is what a community looks like.  These people care for each other and in many cases, feel something on another level for each other,” Pulizz said.

He added, “There is a real belief that we are all in this together, part of the same family.  I've never seen sharing like this before. Maybe it's this way because we've built the entire business on sharing amazing content from amazing people.  It's infectious, and now we all have the virus.  And now it's really starting to spread.”

Part of the reason CMWorld has such a devoted community is due to their weekly Twitter chats under the hashtag #CMWorld. Those chats have played a significant role in the marketing of CMWorld.

Second year attendee Erika Heald, head of social media and content marketing for Anaplan, said that one reason she attends is the opportunity to meet in person people she has talked to on the chats. She looks forward to meeting them in person and hanging out with them.

CMWorld also worked closely with Positively Cleveland to market the event. Content Marketing Institute is based in Cleveland, and they wanted to show off everything they love about their city. To do that, they had each staff member based in Cleveland contribute three or five activities they love to do in Cleveland. Not only did that give attendees insights into the city, but insights into the personalities of the staff members.

Those contributions created a snowball effect with local businesses getting involved in the promotion of the event and even sending their staff to attend the event.

Cathy McPhillips, marketing director for Content Marketing Institute, said, “people for years have said why are you doing it in Cleveland? Why do we have to go to Ohio? We have a beautiful city. It was nice for us to have a couple days showing off our city because now people say I loved the event, and I loved Cleveland, and now I do want to come back.”

That’s good news, because Pulizzi has no intention of moving the event away from Cleveland.

It goes without saying that an event that is all about content demands great content presented to attendees. More than 100 content marketing experts from around the globe spoke at CMWorld. Speakers included such brands as Kraft Foods, Facebook, SAP, Cisco Systems, GE, and Progressive Corporation.

Andrew Davis, author and marketing speaker, kicked off the event challenging attendees to create moments of inspiration through their content. Davis said, “If you want measurable ROI, think about moments of inspiration.” He also encouraged his audience to start thinking like a movie and television executive.

The final keynote speaker helped to solidify that idea. At 4:30 on Wednesday afternoon Actor Kevin Spacey took the stage and closed out the event to a packed auditorium. His tone was positive and encouraging, as he said, “For someone with more than 30 years in the business, there has never been a better moment for folks like us.” Spacey added, “the audience has spoken. They want stories. They're dying for stories."

Attendee Mike Myers, consultant of content marketing for Nationwide Insurance, was happy with the lineup of speakers in both the keynotes and the sessions. He felt it was smart to have someone like Spacey as the final speaker as it ensured people would stick around. “It was good to have someone outside of our space, but who could talk on what we do,” Myers said.

Myers was quick to add “there are folks in our space who are in their own right celebrities in our field. It’s fun to hear from them because they live it every day. They always have some kind of inspirational thing that sticks with you.” Myers recalled Andrew Davis’s session from last year, where he touched on the idea of fractal marketing. “That stuck with me the whole year,” Myers said.

Is the growth of both the industry and the event stressing Pulizzi? Hardly. He said, "I'm having the time of my life.  My favorite moment this year was shaking hands and taking pictures, while people were leaving the event.  How can you not enjoy this?  It's like I get married to thousands of people once a year.”

Great content is the heart of our trade shows and conferences. If you’re looking to improve on the content you are delivering both at the show and throughout the year; if you are looking to create a community that helps you market your events for you, don’t miss next year’s Content Marketing World. It will be held Sept. 8-11 and it will, of course, be in Cleveland.

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