Today is the last day of Content Marketing World here in Cleveland, and it’s been a fantastic event so far.
Smartling has been privileged to participate in the show both as a sponsor and as a presenter.
Here are five things we’re loving about it so far:
1. Old Friends
I’m amazed by how many people we’re bumping into whom we already know from other walks of life. I’ve run into many Smartling customers and had spontaneous and worthwhile conversations.
However, I’m also pleased to see quite a few folks I know from the localization world, including Scott Abel, who did a fantastic job curating the content for the global marketing track. Also, many of our translation agency partners are attending the show this year, which is wonderful. We love collaborating with them and recommending their services to potential clients once they have proven that they do outstanding work.
2. New Friends
There is also quite a lot of new blood at the event this year, as evident during the opening keynote, in which the audience was asked who was attending for the first time. More than half of the attendees were first-timers, showing that this event is gaining strong momentum, not just among content marketers, but marketers in general. I’m particularly impressed by the number of companies in industries like manufacturing and finance who are attending.
And, to share an anecdote from the finance sector, yesterday during one of our Smartling sessions, a participant asked me a question about translation quality. She gave the example of a phrase from the banking world, “Draw on a line of credit,” and explained that when they received the translation of this phrase back, it meant something very literal that ignored the context, in the vein of drawing a line, as in drawing a line across a picture. Other members of the audience chuckled at that example, and gave other examples from their own experience of how difficult translation can be.
3. Globally-Minded Companies
I love being at a trade show where I hear multiple speakers mention global business and translation, and when I can occasionally hear attendees walking by and talking about “publishing in Chinese” or “not any better than Google Translate.” Is this a typical conversation to overhear in Cleveland on a Wednesday? Probably not, but thanks to CM World, people are thinking globally and expanding their views beyond their own home market.
It’s amazing to me the number of people who have come up to the Smartling booth to tell us they are seeking a technology solution to make their projects easier, deploy multilingual websites faster, and generally achieve global content scalability. That’s what we do, but it’s great to see so many companies seeking out this technology and showing a higher state of enlightenment in this area than I think we would have seen even one year ago.
Also, there have been a large number of presentations this year that either touch on international marketing or focus squarely on it, and they have all been very well attended. I’m excited to see more companies reaching the conclusion that once you’re online, you’re already global, and your customers around the world are the ones who are truly in control. How you choose to interact with them is really the question — in English only? Partially in other languages? A fully localized experience? All options are on the table, but global awareness seems heightened among this group of attendees.
4. Tech Focus
One of the people I spoke with yesterday said, “For the first few years at this event, it was all about the Why of content marketing. Now, it’s pivoted toward the How, and everyone is seeking technology solutions.” I couldn’t agree more.
Walk around the floor of the expo center, and you’ll find tech vendor after tech vendor. Flatscreen monitors showing product demos prevail. Content marketing has become very high-tech, and will continue to shift in this direction. However, my favorite quote so far comes from @jaybaer, whose book I incidentally presented to our full marketing team at Smartling just a couple of weeks ago:
“Tools are great, but content marketing success is about the wizard, not the wand.”
I’ve had several conversations with folks while here in this exact vein. Technology is a marvel and can amplify and streamline all kinds of content marketing processes, but tools are not magic. It still takes human beings and creativity to make them work well.
5. Kevin Spacey
Who doesn’t love Kevin Spacey? I do, but not just for his acting performance. In addition to being our closing keynote speaker today, Spacey is also a globally-minded individual, and my London-based friends and colleagues have repeatedly raved about the work he has done for the Old Vic. As someone who volunteers my translation work through the Poetry Translation Centre, I’m always amazed by the attention given to the arts in the United Kingdom, and it’s great to see folks who are volunteering their time to the arts on more than one continent.
After all, the arts are the very definition of high-quality content.