Guest post by Marilyn Cox, VP of Marketing & CRM at The Second City

Content is important. I’ll go out on a limb and say marketers are bought into this belief. And if the thousands of orange-toating marketers emerging on Cleveland aren’t evidence enough, the success stories of countless businesses are proof that content marketing is not a trend – it’s an imperative.

I’ve attended 5 Content Marketing World events and it’s interesting to watch as themes emerge each year. Justification and explanation of “why” content marketing evolved into tools and techniques for content measurement and management. Predictive analytics, account based marketing, and ROI have all been popular topics.

This year the theme I recognized was a committed focus on human connection. Connecting with your audiences, both external and internal, requires an “others focused” mindset. Whether you’re working to influence audience behavior, support an internal sales team, gain buy-in from the executive suite, or practice inclusion across your organization – you must be others focused.

Below are my tweetable takeaways that address how to build your content marketing strategy with an others focused mindset. Thanks to the amazing presenters that addressed these great topics.

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #1: The freedom to fail results in the greatest successes – as we learned from @JoePulizzi origin story

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #2: Co-created and user generated content results in improved creativity and authentic content that connects

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #3: Discover what matters to your customer – their passion and story – and build your content around that.

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #4: Recognize the preferred channel of your audience. My kids choose Lego and Minecraft YouTube videos over TV.

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #5: You don’t have to be from Lego to be creative. Find the game in your work and tap into your younger self.

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #6: Take pressure off of keyword strings and create content that addresses topics people actually care about

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #7: You are content too – not just the words your company posts. You are interesting! Ala @HeinzMarketing

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #8: Think beyond the buyer journey – great content is emotive and often personal. Be human. @HeinzMarketing

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #9: Rethink content investment – it shouldn’t simply be investing in words. Invest in methods of understanding.

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #10: Account Based Marketing takes burden off of sales – content marketing provides sales needed tools to win

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #11: Write to what interests your targeted customer. Enough “How Game of Thrones is Like Sales”@jchernov #yes

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #12: Account Based Marketing is meant to service sales – content marketing services the customer @jchernov

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #13: Donate to theorangeeffect.org – doing amazing things to help kids receive the speech therapy they need

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #14: Content is more than words – it includes visuals. Get your designers/art involved early @BuddyScalera

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #15: Sales funnel is about selling. Customer journey is about telling. @BuddyScalera

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #16: Think like a CFO – content = investment that compounds over time. Measure increasing value @BrennerMichael

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #17: Like @HamillHimself overcome a (content) crisis of confidence by embracing new challenges.

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #18: Embrace your Luke Skywalker – give the people what they want even if it’s contrary to what you want.

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #19: Say “Yes, And” to every opportunity. @HamillHimself ‘Yes, Ands’ to get funding for his projects.

#CMWorld Tweetable Takeaway #20: @HamillHimself advises be tenacious. Plans are a framework but you have to pivot to the ever changing world

If I’ve learned anything working for an improvisation company, it’s that incorporating the principles of ‘Yes, And’ and taking on an ‘others focused’ mindset improves relationships and as a result, business outcomes. And this mindset has such a natural extension into the world of content marketing where connection is everything.

Like content marketing itself, my hope is that a focus on human connection isn’t a trend but remains an imperative.

Till next year friends.

Marilyn Cox runs marketing and CRM for The Second City, a historic comedy improv company based in Chicago.  She’s a B2B marketing veteran having served in leadership positions previously with Oracle, Cincom Systems & Cincinnati Bell.