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17 (now 18) People You Should Meet at Content Marketing World

On September 9th, I will be attending the third annual Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland, Ohio. Through my experiences attending the conference for the past two years, I’ve created a list of outstanding and exemplary individuals to meet at the conference. Here’s a look at who you should meet and the topics you might discuss.

joepulizzi281291. Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute

Joe is the driving force behind the Content Marketing Institute and is the author of several books including Get Content, Get Customers and Managing Content Marketing. His newest book, Epic Content Marketing, comes out in September.

What to talk about: Joe has a wealth of institutional knowledge about the practice of content marketing. If you have a challenge related to content person, Joe is a good person to ask. He also knows everyone in the industry so he can likely introduce you to whomever you want. You also might have a good discussion about “content marketing  mission statements.” and picking a topic for your content marketing efforts. Also, he loves talking about all things “orange.”


leeodden2. Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Online Marketing

Lee runs TopTank Online Marketing, one of today’s most well-known SEO agencies. He’s consulted leading B2B companies including HP, McKesson, BT, Marketo, StrongMail, and PRSA and keynoted numerous events such as Online Marketing Summit and Social Media Junction.

What to talk about: Lee is a great resource about anything related to the intersection of content marketing and SEO. At the recent Content 2 Conversion conference in New York, a short but interesting side discussion with him helped spur some thoughts resulting in a blog post about Google + authorship for content curation.


ann-handley3.  Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

Ann is an interactive marketing pioneer, having cofounded ClickZ and now working as chief content officer at MarketingProfs. She’s also the co-author of Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business. In addition to writing on marketing and business for MarketingProfs, Ann pens a monthly column for Entrepreneur Magazine. She also wrote the foreword for our How to Feed the Content Beast eBook.

What to talk about: Ann knows the ins and outs of gaining customer intel and creating a solid content marketing strategy. In particular, if you are looking at restructuring your organization for content marketing, she has some great thoughts on what the ideal org chart should look like.


Russell-Sparkman-Photo4. Russell Sparkman, President & CEO, Fusionspark Media

A frequent speaker on the topics like content marketing for journalists, storytelling across media platforms, and other content marketing topics, Russell is a jack of all new media trades including photo, video, information architecture, and project management. He co-founded Fusionspark Media with his brother in 1999. Since then, the company has created content strategy and custom content production for industries including conversation and the environment, business, travel, and healthcare.

What to talk about: If you need creative ideas on how to tell a story on multiple platforms, Russell is likely bursting with ideas. Just for fun, ask him about his blues trio, Deja Blooze. He also runs a smaller, lesser known, but more intimate content marketing conference called Content Marketing Retreat every year in his hometown of Whidbey, an island off the coast near Seattle.


TODD_WHEATLAND_HEADSHOT_105. Todd Wheatland, Vice President of Marketing, Kelly Services

Based in Paris, France, Todd has worked in the human resources and workforce consulting space for the past 15 years. Now he leads marketing and thought leadership for Kelly Services, has written several books on recruiting and marketing, and speaks at events around the world.

What to talk about: Todd is knowledgeable about many areas of marketing but he is one of the experts when it comes to marketing using slideshare. In fact he knows so much about it that he recently wrote an entire book called The Marketer’s Guide to SlideShare. If you are considering marketing more with content on SlideShare, Todd is the right guy to talk to.


Joe Chernov-resized-6006. Joe Chernov, Vice President of Marketing at Kinvey

When the Content Marketing Institute names someone a “Content Marketer of the Year,” it’s clear that person knows his stuff. Joe is CMI’s 2012 Content Marketer of the Year and a frequent speaker on content marketing and social media at conferences and universities around the world. When he was running content marketing at Eloqua, I co-presented on a very popular joint webinar with him about what content to consider at each stage of the marketing funnel.

What to talk about: As Joe’s accolades and awards show, Joe knows content marketing inside and out.  He has led the development of many creative content pieces at Eloqua, and has continued that at Kinvey.  If you’re writing an eBook in the near future, he’s a great resource to bounce ideas off of.


William_Shatner_1037. William Shatner, actor, philanthropic, author, producer

Yes, that William Shatner of Star Trek fame will be speaking at Content Marketing World. In addition to his work onscreen, William has authored 30 books, breeds American Quarter horses and contributes to numerous philanthropic projects including the March of Dimes Canada.

What to talk about: If you can catch his attention, talk to William about his charity work. And if you’re a big Star Trek fan, a few behind-the-scenes questions couldn’t hurt. William Shatner is not only an actor but also a producer, director, writer and horse breeder (yes, you read that correctly. Read here for more information.) All these have one thing in common, the creation of content. William has mastered the art of creating content throughout all kinds of mediums.


scottabel8. Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler

As a global content strategist, Scott helps organizations improve the way they create, manage and deliver information. You’re likely to see him tweeting profusely during any of the sessions he attends with a tool setup that looks like a NASA command center.

What to talk about: Scott is on top of all the latest online tools particularly when it comes to social media. Ask him about ebook production, web content strategy, or any aspect of social media.


michaelkowlich9. Michael Kolowich, Founder and CEO, KnowledgeVision

Michael is a former Lotus, Ziff-Davis, and AT&T executive who founded seven high-tech ventures including Ziff-Davis Interactive (ZDNet). An Emmy-winning creative talent with WGBH-TV, he’s currently editor of Rich Content Daily and CEO of KnowledgeVision, a system for online presentation technology.

What to talk about: Michael has a deep knowledge of all things tech and digital media (particularly video production), so fire away.  He’s also a pilot, so pick his brains about planes and aerodynamics if you’re into that.


Carla-Johnson-Small-209x30010. Carla Johnson, Principal, Type A Communications

A frequent speaker and consultant to the Content Marketing Institute, Carla writes about marketing for CMI, CCO Magazine, CMS Wire and BMA Buzz, among other places. Her clients include Motorola Solutions, VMware, Encana Oil & Gas, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

What to talk about: Carla has a ton of insight on B2B marketing and content marketing as well strategies for telling stories that connect with people. She also has a great talk track on how to cut the “bull” from your content marketing that you may be interested in.


Jay-Baer-Photo11. Jay Baer, President, Convince & Convert

This marketing powerhouse has consulted with 29 of the Fortune 500 and was named one of America’s top three social media consultants by Fast Company magazine. Jay’s forthcoming book is called Youtility: Why Smart Companies are Helping Not Selling.

What to talk about: Jay is all about hype-free marketing so bring your favorite examples of this concept in action and prepare to be impressed by Jay’s expansive knowledge. If you listen to his weekly podcast, Social Pros, so much the better.   Last year at Content Marketing World, he had a great talk on content marketing metrics.  If you’re struggling with how to measure your content marketing efforts, Jay can offer you a few pointers.


michaelbrenner12. Michael Brenner, Vice President of Global Marketing & Content Strategy, SAP

In addition to his work for SAP, Michael is the author of B2B Marketing Insider and a contributor. To prior to his work at SAP, he held positions in field, product, and corporate marketing at the Nielsen Company and led marketing at two other companies.

What to talk about: Aside from Michael’s role at SAP, another little known fact is that he is one of the co-founders of the popular Business2Community site.  Michael is a good person to turn to if you’re looking for thoughts on how to launch and create a new onlien destination or resource as he has done many times in the past.


robert-rose-cmi13. Robert Rose, Chief Strategist, Content Marketing Institute 

As an early web visionary, Robert developed some of the first Web strategies in the country for clients such as Mediamark Research and CTAM. He’s helped companies including AT&T, Staples, and Petco tell their story online and co-authored Managing Content Marketing with Joe Pulizzi.

What to talk about: Robert is especially passionate about brands using in their content marketing to stand out, so bring your best examples to discuss. He’s probably also up for conversations about digital media and software-as-a-service technology.


heidicohen14. Heidi Cohen, President, Riverside Marketing Strategies

Having worked in a marketing consultancy role and in-house at brands including Citibank and Bertelsmann/Bookspan, Heidi has created integrated, direct, digital and social media marketing programs for a diverse array of industries. She’s also taught graduate-level marketing at NYU, Rutgers, and CUNY.

What to talk about: Heidi is great at simplifying complex marketing concepts and translating them into actionable tips, so ask her about mobile marketing, editorial calendars, or a marketing challenge you faced recently.


arnie-kuenn15. Arnie Kuenn, President, Vertical Measures

A frequent speaker at marketing conferences and author of Accelerate! The Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing, Arnie has held executive positions in the marketing and new technology realm for the past 20 years. He’s also a founder and past president of the Arizona Interactive Marketing Association (AZIMA).

What to talk about: Strike up a conversation with Arnie by mentioning trends in SEO, social media, or content marketing. He’s also an avid basketball and football if you’re hoping to make small talk.


rohitbhargava16. Rohit Bhargava, Founder, Influential Marketing Group
An independent marketing expert, Rohit focuses on bringing humanity back to business. He’s authored three books, including the recent best-seller Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action. Rohit is also a professor of Global Marketing at Georgetown. Rohit also wrote a foreword for our recent Content Curation Lookbook.

What to talk about: Rohit is passionate about discussing the power of likeability and how individuals and brands can build deeper and more trusted relationships. He’s also known for his highly visual and engaging presentations.



17. Pawan Deshpande, Founder & CEO, Curata

Sorry, I had to plug myself, but I have attended Content Marketing World since it’s inception and have met an slew of interesting people.  My favorite thing about content marketing is that it brings together people from the media and content realm, marketers, and technologists all into one location.

What to talk about: In particular, I am passionate about content curation. I am conducting a lunch & learn session on How to Fuel Your Content Marketing Engine with Curation: A Step-by-Step Method with Real-World Examples. During this session we’ll review companies who are successfully using curated content in their marketing strategies.



BONUS 18. Rob Yoegel, Content Marketing Director, Monetate

A content marketing expert with history in publishing, Rob “gets” content marketing more than your average marketer. The recipient of multiple content marketing awards, Rob has mastered the art of getting content marketing processes set up for his organizations.

What to talk about: Aside from his love of “bubble hockey,” ask Rob about how to best get started with content marketing at your organization, advice on how to set-up and implement and get your team on board. Also look for him on twitter @RobYoegel

If you’re attending Content Marketing World and would like to meet, you can meet me by attending my lunch & learn session, swinging by the Curata booth, we’ll be at Booth #30, or just send me a message at @TweetsFromPawan.

Pawan Deshpande

Pawan Deshpande is the founder and CEO of Curata, a Boston-based company offering content marketing software used by thousands of marketers around the world. He spearheaded the first-ever panel at SxSW on Content Marketing in 2011, and was a 2014 Finalist for MarketingProfs B2B Marketer of the Year. Pawan was an engineer at Microsoft and Google where he was awarded patents in social networking and machine learning. He previously attended MIT where his graduate thesis won top departmental and international awards.

Pawan is also a blogger for The Huffington Post, the Content Marketing Institute,, Forbes, Marketing Profs, and other technology and marketing publications.

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