Content Marketing Conference was a smash hit in 2020, that’s for sure. While we had to make the pivot to digital quickly due to Coronavirus, we were able to pull it off, featuring 3 keynotes with a live Q&A, 10 brilliant workshops, 50 unique and tactical sessions, and a live comedy broadcast. By providing free access to this year’s conference, we were able to help more than 14,000 people learn and grow their content marketing skills, all from the comfort of their home office.
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve received a few questions about our story and history, so here you go, with a special thanks to all that helped make the magic happen this year, and over the years.

CMC: The Early Years

Many years ago, when the content marketing revolution was in diapers, I purchased two domain names that I thought might be worthwhile in the future:  Content Marketing Conference and Content Marketing Summit. At that time, I could not have imagined what the conference could be or what it would become.
Many years later, with the content marketing revolution in full force, and WriterAccess gaining traction in the marketplace, I was approached by my friend and colleague, Tim Ash to join forces with his conference called Conversion Conference. We then started the Content Marketing Conference to test the waters.
We jumped at the opportunity and dove into the conference business with the help of Rising Media, a conference production company, that was a partner on the production side responsible for negotiations with the hotel, vendors, and all operation expenditures.
We attracted almost 200 attendees in our first year, which from our perspective was a huge accomplishment. Many great speakers jumped at the opportunity, agreeing to bring extremely tactical sessions to the conference to help distinguish us from the pack.

A New Chapter

Let me say that Rising Media did a great job in those first two years, with a tenacious focus on making CMC a profitable experience for us all.  But our team had a different vision for CMC that would require financial loss moving forward to build a world-class venue.
So we parted ways with Rising Media and gladly left the RIO Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas to start a new chapter in Boston at the Westin Waterfront Resort.  We hired an excellent company called AVFX that could deliver on the vision we had for a first-class production.
Our debut in Boston was a smash hit, led by Ann Handley’s keynote that opened with: “I loved what Byron and the CMC team has done with their conference this year, but what I love even more is what they’ve done for me” as she pointed to a superhero model we had made of Ann as part of our superhero campaign for CMC that year.
From Virtual Reality to Kaleidoscopes to Lobster Rolls to Cannoli in the North End, we made sure that CMC was right up there with the BEST MARKETING CONFERENCES on the planet, bar none.
The innovation became addicting to the team as we began dreaming up a new plan and theme, year after year.

This Year: A Digital Experience

The greatest test to our ability to innovate was this year’s COVID-19 crisis. We had to make a quick decision about what to do with the conference given that public safety was now a concern. We had just weeks to shift the conference to a DIGITAL experience after public gatherings were shut down.
The team scrambled to build an online portal that would exceed expectations and deliver on a new set of needs for marketing professionals. Content marketers needed accessible education — now more than ever, and as soon as possible.
We pulled together the previous three years of recordings and offered those up for immediate viewing.  And we began pre-recording the fresh 50 sessions with the CMC 2020 speakers to get those ready to roll out on April 21, 2020 – opening day of the conference.
And to really test the waters, we decided to open up CMC to the world– FREE, to help those hunkered down during the pandemic access world class keynotes, sessions, and even comedy keynotes for free.
With very little advertising, we watched the registrations meter go through the roof.  Within days of the press release and announcement, thousands of marketing professionals walked through our digital doors and started to view the archived content from CMC 2017 to CMC 2019 with more on the way.
By the time opening day arrived, more than 14,000 marketers were registered (well beyond our wildest imagination) with 8,000 tuning into the live keynote Q&A and comedy sessions while participating in workshops, sessions, certifications, and resources on opening day.
Surprisingly, we had many questions about the software platform, which made us smile, as our custom solution had many flaws including a bug that we experienced the day before that was pegging our processing power and crashing the site. All was fixed, thanks to our tech leader who figured out the problem just in time. And even though more planning and runway would have been nice to have leading into opening day, our team did the best with the time that we had.

The Future of CMC

In 2020, we learned a lot about putting together a digital experience in record time. What questions do you have about putting on a virtual event? I’d love to answer them in detail in another blog post. 
Special thanks to our team members that worked super hard to bring all the content together in a short period of time.
One thing is for sure– CMC will be a VIRTUAL experience moving forward as well as a LIVE experience next year in Boston. 
We will not let budget prohibit anyone from learning and growing with content marketing skills. 
Moving forward, we will also be offering a new kind of digital experience. Starting in late June, we’ll be hosting monthly Workshop Webinars for FREE, featuring some of the best content marketers in the industry. These three-hour deep dives will focus on the six pillars of content marketing: content planning, creation, optimization, distribution, performance, and content management. We aim to provide a valuable experience where you can walk away with tactical tips that you can implement for your own business… today.
While you’ll have to attend during the scheduled time to access the workshop for free, all CMC 2021 ticket holders will be able to watch this content on-demand through the CMC digital portal. So if you haven’t bought your ticket yet, now is the time!
Right now, we’re selling tickets now at the lowest prices of the year. For only $174, you can get continued access to the CMC Digital Portal until next year, along with a virtual ticket to CMC 2021. If you want to attend live in Boston next year, we’re offering an All Access Pass for just $599 until May 31, 2020. Register now to take advantage of the lowest prices of the year. And don’t forget to log into the CMC digital portal to access free learning until May 31st.
Onward we go to CMC moving forward!
Byron White
Founder, CMC