CMA content

Karen’s CMA live sketch notes

Marketing events are something that accountants need to be attending. (Read the full post here.) As most of you know, my note-taking technique combines some creativity, some art, and of course most importantly the ideas generated from the talks.  Here are some of my sketchnotes from the recent content marketing conference (#CMALive17) held in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Basically, if I were to create a content marketing conference, this would be it. But Chris Marr has already done it, so why reinvent the wheel?

CMA content

Karen’s sketch notes from CMA live

Here are some of my sketchnotes and the amazing concepts included within them. Chris Ducker was first, and I personally connected with his story of burnout. I’ve been there. He also built rapport with all us entrepreneurs by being unapologetic about how mad and mental we are. Couldn’t agree more: and wouldn’t have it any other way!

Chris covered a lot of ground, but the most helpful to me was the focus on video, especially using live video to launch things. We have a new intake of the Content Marketer programme kicking off in September, so you can expect to see more live video surrounding this.

During the two-day event there were a series of “Lightning Speakers” (of which I was one), who spoke for 15 minutes on a focused topic.

The inimitable Col Gray (who is our Head Brand Designer here at PF) and Ross Coverdale (otherwise known affectionately as “radlad”) shared the branding journey of CMA – from ugly boring forgettable logo to wearable, beautiful, fun logo.

By far one of my favourites from the day was Roger Edwards, who cut through the mumbo-jumbo of management-speak and boring technical talk to help us review the power of being human in your marketing, particularly in the words you use (or don’t use). This could not have been more relevant for accountants, who have a tendency at times to forget that what you care about as an accountant doesn’t always equate with what your client cares about, or wants to hear.

The hilarious Stefan Thomas was up next pointing out that networking as we used to know it is dead: but you can still network with the best of them. This fit so well with the event’s theme of being human in marketing. Don’t talk about yourself, your services, or your business: “Be interested in them instead of trying to be interesting to them”. Roger pointed out that we all go to an event with the primary focus on our own business….so tap into that by caring about their business more than your own.

Interestingly one of the accountants at the event, Jon Norton of Barefoot Accounting, pointed out to me that one of the benefits of a niche is that you aren’t appearing to be salesy at these type of events. “You probably find that people don’t feel you’re selling to them because you don’t apply to everyone,” he said. “So the pressure is off.”

Next up was Doug Kessler. Now, this talk would not be for everyone: if you’re squeamish about swearing, you might feel very uncomfortable by it. (Some people i spoke to who weren’t there, but read about the talk later, felt a bit uncomfortable.)

The key takeaway for me was one Doug made at the very end:

You don’t have to swear, but you do have to do these 6 things:

  • Surprise people
  • Signal confidence
  • Resonate with the like minded
  • Be authentic
  • Let yourself be funny
  • Add mojo to your voice

Most accountants I talk to would not be comfortable with swearing “on a professional level”. (Oddly enough most of them don’t mind at all one on one.)  And that’s fine – you have a choice to make with your business and your brand. At PF we aren’t really into the swearing so much, both because that’s who we are, and out of respect for the accountants we work with on a daily basis.

Erika Napoletano’s talk was similar. Some great takeaways there too, however you want to express them.


Now. Next up. The incredible Mark Schaefer, who I think I can safely say was my favourite speaker of the conference – and that’s saying something. What impressed me the most was this moment:

At a break, I was on my way out of the room to get coffee, and I saw Mark sitting at the back of the room, getting ready to give his talk. I introduced myself and shook his hand, and as soon as he saw my name tag he said “Karen!” and got up to give me a hug.

I’d connected with him a few times on Twitter in advance of the conference, and shared a few things. What Mark did was turn that online connection into a real live one, and combining that with his incredibly relevant talk has probably made me a fan of him for life.

Mark’s talk covered the concept of niche, and standing out, and being known in your industry or area. It complemented my talk perfectly and I was thrilled that the concepts I was sharing were also being shared by this famous – er, known – author.

Oh, and Mark finally answered the question of how long you need to drive at content marketing before you begin to see the results come together. I’ll do a separate blog post on that – but check out the sketchnotes below if you can’t wait until then.

Even at a conference filled with speakers who know that the best marketing is real and human, Andrew and Pete showcased this so incredibly well. They are another example of someone I was able to walk up and start chatting to as if I’d known them for ages. (I literally went up to one of them and said, “So are you Andrew, or Pete?” because I couldn’t remember from the videos. It was Pete.)

Their talk on ‘content crickets’ (when you share great content and get….nothing…from the world in reply) was absolutely spot on and I wished all our accountants could be there to hear it. Not to worry though: I’m going to go down to Newcastle and hang out with them and figure out a way to get you guys to hear them.

Then came some tips from Janet Murray of Soulful PR, and she pointed out that we all have websites, write blog content, and use social….but almost no one makes use of the press as we could. The best tip she gave was using the hashtag #journorequest on Twitter – you might find some PR opportunities applicable to you!

Finally the conference concluded with Marcus Sheridan, author of They Ask, You Answer – which is all about building your content based on what your clients and prospects are specifically asking you. I’ve got the book on my reading shelf (and now it’s been signed by Marcus) and I look forward to sharing more of that content with you soon.

Marcus is personable, real, and kind: which fits perfectly with his message – specifically about seeking opportunities for kindness, and (along with the theme of the conference) being human.

It was a beautiful event from start to finish, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly.  (Here’s why)

Hope to see you at another great marketing event soon!