Content Marketing Academy 2016

Content Marketing Academy 2016: My Main Takeaways

The Content Marketing Academy is an annual conference hosted in Edinburgh by Chris Marr. Normally I wouldn’t write up about a conference or event I attended, but for the last 2 years, I’ve felt it’s necessary for this one. You can read my 2015 review here. The Content Marketing Academy is literally a business game-changing event.

This year, the conference was hosted in The Hub on the Royal Mile, on the 2nd and 3rd of June. There was around 120 delegates there and one of the best things about the event was the fact I now call most of these people friends. Not just business contacts, but true friends.

I could seriously write a book on all the things I learned from the speakers. There was 15 speakers and every single one of them nailed it.

There was three international keynote speakers that came over from America:

In this article I’m going to discuss what I learned from the three International keynotes.

Amy Schmittauer

I was really looking forward to hearing Amy speak. She’s a YouTube pro and video is something I’ve been experimenting with recently.

It’s not something I’m particularly comfortable with – although I certainly feel like I’m ready to nail it now. Amy didn’t disappoint. She delivered an unbelievable talk on the theory of video, whilst backing it up with real ’science’ on how we can make it work.

Amy talked a lot about how your audience wants a leader. They want to be lead. As marketers, we need to start seeing ourselves as their thought leader. We provide them with content that delivers true value.

Then we lead them to our call to action.

Strategy Statement

She also left us with an unbelievably easy strategy statement to fill in. By answering the following statement, you should have a clear idea who you’re creating content for and why. Then, whenever you do create content, whether it’s video, written or audio, it should be made for that exact person.

Here’s the statement:

I make videos for ______, about ______, so that I can achieve ______.

I had a think about my statement and I came up with:

I make videos for entrepreneurs, business owners & marketers about Facebook advertising & social media marketing. I do this so that I can start to become known as the Facebook ads guy in the UK. Meaning, more people know me, trust me and want to do business with me.

I won’t go into it too heavily, but Amy also gave us the formula to a perfect video. Here’s the notes I took on that:

  1. Start with personal: your face. Not an intro video.
  2. Don’t introduce yourself. Treat them like they’ve watched for years. Give them loyalty treatment.
  3. 8 Second rule: You need to deliver a good enough intro in 8 seconds or they’ll leave.
  4. Keep the eyes moving. Use different angles etc. Treat the camera like a person. Not a device. It’s the person from the strategy statement.
  5. Audible, incentivised call to action. Plan for it at the end. They watch this, you ask them to go do that.
  6. Time: 2-5 minutes but see what the competitors are doing and beat them.

Ann Handley


I met Ann in the morning of the Friday. We both rolled up the venue at the same time and spent some time chatting outside before the venue opened. It was incredible to have the chance to just talk to her and spend time with her.

Ann delivered a hilarious, but hugely valuable talk. She talked about how we all need to start being bigger, braver and bolder with our content.

One interesting exercise I came away with was about branding. She asked us to describe our brand in three words. Then posed the question: does our website & brand actually represent that?

With Blue Cliff Media, I want to be seen as a fun, exciting brand that actually generates real results for clients. But I know our actual branding comes across as quite corporate, and so that’s something I need to sort.

Mark Schaefer

Mark ended the conference on the Friday with a brilliant keynote and Q&A session. Mark also hung around the conference for the full two days which meant I got the pleasure of speaking to him a few times. I took the opportunity to ask him for advice about speaking.

Mark’s been speaking for 8 years and as someone who is starting to do talks, I wanted to learn from one of the best. He gave me some really solid advice around taking every opportunity you get.

Throughout the two days, we had taken in SO much knowledge and value. What Mark did brilliantly was he summed everything up succinctly.

I took two main points from mark:

The first one is that we should look to scope out what our competitive landscape is like. What are our competitors doing? What type of content are they producing?

This really made me think about my strategy statement. First, I needed to think about who it is I wanted to be. As I mentioned above, I want to be the Facebook Ads “guy” in the UK. Looking at the competitive landscape, nobody really has that title just now.

Once we’ve done that and found an unsaturated market, it’s about attacking that area aggressively and creating content around it. And once we’ve done that, it’s about nurturing the audience that engages with it.

The second point I took from Mark is a very simple, but often overlooked one: be more human. It’s the quickest way to getting people to actually engage with what you do. Amy actually pointed to this in her talk when she said treat your camera like a person – not an electrical device!

The conference ended with a social at IndigoYard, a nice bar in the west end of Edinburgh. It was the perfect way to end an amazing conference.

A big shout out to Chris, Tammie, Hannah and all the team that put together the event. My tickets are already booked for next year.

If you’re a marketer, you need to be there. Simple as that. Even if you’re not from Scotland, it’s an event you can’t afford to miss. Those who go and take action on what they learn will beat their competition. Those who don’t will be chasing tails.


Will I see you there in June? Let me know!


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