I was lucky enough to attend the Content Marketing World convention this month in sunny Cleveland. The best and the brightest content marketing minds converged to share their learnings, promote their accomplishments and tried desperately (and fruitlessly) to run into Tina Fey, the keynote speaker. These were the trends I observed over 3 days spent listening to my peers: 

Trend 1: Authenticity Rules

The most common theme was the call for more authenticity. Somewhere in the early 2010’s, we internet marketers turned our human voices into robot voices and stuffed SEO keywords into our content in place of just being ourselves. Not only do we have to fight our way back from this homogenized black hole of bland content, we have to define what our true voice is.

One way to do that? Consider editing a piece of content with another writer or editor to really discover its strengths and weaknesses. You might be surprised to discover that what one person thinks is relatable really isn’t.

We were challenged to make sure we never go back to pointless Pinterest pages and aimless Instagram’s with no clearly defined strategy. Creating meaningful content won’t just better your organization’s KPIs, it will (gasp!) improve the internet – and  I think we can all agree the internet could use some cleaning up.

Trend 2: ‘Team of Teams’ Mentality

As the term Digital Marketing was gaining traction in the industry, we inadvertently splintered off into siloed marketing departments. These departments, “content” and “creative,” each laid claim to their effectiveness and autonomy. Thus, content marketers became lone wolfs when we really should have been collaborating and being transparent about our marketing goals.

This idea of a “Team of Teams” came up in multiple sessions. It’s a theory that promotes a shared consciousness where every member is empowered to execute. This means weekly marketing meetings where governance is shared – along with marketing plans. Basically, let the right hand know what the left hand is doing, and we all benefit. Just think of all those hours spent relaying messages and “managing up” that you can finally have back.

Trend 3: Plain Language Isn’t Just for Healthcare

Something we promote daily (OK, hourly) at Aha Media is the idea that plain language or clear communication benefits the patient of your healthcare institute. It helps people better understand their care or the care of their loved ones without being put off by jargon.

So how does this relate to customers in other industries? They all need content they understand. If a consumer can go to your web presence and clearly understand what you’re selling, they will be more engaged, less frustrated and therefore more likely to become a return customer. In plain language we trust!

This year’s conference was trying to steer us back to our core marketing beliefs. Content should be readable and meaningful. We should collaborate with the goal of stronger working relationships. But sometimes, work gets in the way. So return to the basic principles of communication, no matter your industry. Your customers will thank you.

Learn more about these topics on our blog and in our #WritingWednesday video series:

Why You Should Advocate for Candor in Your Organization

Demystify Plain Language

What Is Conversational Writing? And How to Get it in Your Organization


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