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How “Doing it Wrong” Became “Getting it Right”: A Note on the Newfangled Seminar

Walking into the cocktail party after the first full day of the inaugural Newfangled Seminar was quite an experience. Day 1 had an ambitious agenda. In fact, by the cocktail party, we’d already completed eight of our total 11 planned sessions for the entire event. Topics were as expansive as the importance of developing a digital lead development platform and implementing internal processes that increase productivity and profitability, and as extensive as identifying each attendee’s target personas and creating a specific content strategy that accommodated each company’s unique challenges. Day 1 was huge.

And as such, I suspected the energy going into the evening festivities might be a bit more subdued than the previous night’s welcome reception. I was so wrong.

In fact, the energy was electric. Contagious, even. As we headed into our fourth meal together as a group, I was blown away by how eager everyone was to continue their discussions from the day.

I’d barely taken my first sip of wine before I was drawn into a discussion about content strategy with an attendee who I’d worked with during the breakout sessions earlier. I asked him how he was feeling about the content lectures from earlier in the day. “We’ve been approaching our content strategy all wrong,” he told me.

The interesting part? He was smiling.

He went on to explain that believing in the value of a content strategy is one thing, but actually creating one that works for your agency is a totally different animal. “But now, I know what we need to do. When I get back on Monday, this is law.”

The “this” he was referring to was the roadmap we helped attendees create for their individual content strategies earlier that day. During our content sessions, we worked through the critical strategic decisions agencies need to make in order to develop a smart content strategy that their team can actually buy into and accomplish month after month. We redefined “target personas” within the context of their content. We explored how these personas move through various stages of the buy cycle and how the agency’s content should change to accommodate these various buy-cycle stages. We even worked through selecting the right content types for their business, how to choose and motivate their content team, and how to run an effective editorial meeting and lead strategic topic ideation sessions. And small breakout sessions gave the four of us a chance to work with attendees one-on-one to apply these methodologies to their specific situations.

It got deep. But coming into that cocktail hour, everyone was really energized. And that’s one of the things that was so rewarding about this event. To realize that, even after a full day of conversations on complicated topics, this group wanted to keep at it.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the setting looked like this:

An evening reception at the Newfangled Seminar
As luck would have it, our photographer happened to capture our conversation on the Sun Terrace at the Fearrington House Inn.

“Now I know know what we need to do.”

Sounds simple, but that’s got to be one of the most rewarding reactions I heard throughout the entire event. Suddenly, “approaching our content strategy all wrong” wasn’t a failure; it was an opportunity. This agency principal came looking for a solution, a guide. And he found it. He left feeling motivated, confident, and ready to change the way his agency approaches content marketing. What else could I have hoped for?

After the event, we sent our attendees a survey for their feedback. Responses are still rolling in, but so far, 89 percent have rated the Newfangled Seminar the best professional event they’ve ever attended. That’s thrilling for us, but we didn’t pull it off alone. The immediate camaraderie that developed among these agency peers created a safe space for sharing with and learning from one another. For me, that’s proof that when you get the right people in the room, truly amazing things can happen.

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