I just returned from Content Marketing World 2016 in Cleveland – the birthplace of rock and roll – and came back to Los Angeles pumped up. Was it because I was one of the squares in CMWorld’s game of Hollywood Squares? Nope. Was it Mark Hamill talking about whether he’d rather be Luke Skywalker or The Joker? Nope (and spoiler alert: he would choose both!) For me, the highlight of the trip was an intimate gathering to watch one of the greatest American bands put on a pure rock and roll bonanza at The Music Hall. For 90 minutes, Cheap Trick took us all on a tour of what rock and roll is about: Music, showmanship and having a good time. Those are the same things I strive for as a content marketer – great content, sharp skills and having fun doing it!

I got back to my room that night, ears ringing, shirt soaked with sweat, and started preparing for day 2 of CMWorld the following morning. On day 1, I had seen speakers like: Robert Rose Ann Handley and Andrew Davis who had all talked about ways to make your content inspire action and evoke emotion. It was then I realized that rock music and content marketing are almost one and the same. They both aim to engage an audience, leaving them full of emotion and inspiration. Like a great song, a great blog post or video can do the same thing. That night, Cheap Trick reminded me why rock music is content and how important it is to notice the resemblance. If we approach content marketing like a great rock band, we have to play and play and play to get our message across. And at the same time have fun, experiment and know that our job is to entertain and engage the audience. Sometimes, it’s going to work and other times, it is going to fail. But the show must go on. It’s the same thing with content marketing. Some pieces of content are going to drive conversion and others are going to fail miserably. But the beauty of the platforms we choose to broadcast on is that they allow us to post, measure and manage – and most importantly – try new things and see what resonates.

I remember the first time I heard Cheap Trick. In May of 1978, I was playing centerfield for the Mets. That is, the Wayland, MA Little League Mets. And I was in centerfield because… let’s just say I was not the strongest player on the team. So there I was in a field of green, picking daisies and daydreaming. The ballpark was surrounded by woods – there were trees everywhere and the bugs were buzzing. It was an idyllic New England spring day. The drone of the insects and the chants of “hey battah, hey battah, sah-wing battah” were overtaken by loud rock music emanating from the woods. As I stood there with my hands on my knees praying that a ball would not get hit to me, I heard the screams of young girls and someone yelling from the woods, “I want you, to want me…” then the drums kicked in and pure rock and roll gold began to pour out from the trees.

While I was only 9 years old, I fancied myself a rock and roll aficionado at this point in my life –years earlier, my older brother and I had joined Columbia Music House and ordered albums such as Fly Like An Eagle and Who’s Next. But what I was hearing was like nothing I had ever heard before. The power chords, the melodies, the screams of the crowd. Of course I was hearing Cheap Trick’s Live At Budokan for the very first time. At that very moment, I became a fan for life.

Now remember, in 1978 we had no social media. We had no internet. We didn’t even have MTV. We had vinyl and cassettes. We heard about new music on the radio and more importantly, from our friends. That day in 1978, the woods were my internet. The screaming fans were my social media. And even hundreds of yards away, with the music blaring, I was engaged. I was persuaded to go buy that record – which I did the next chance I had!

As many of us know, rock music – all music – is powerful. It takes chances. It takes commitment. It persuades us to take action – even if it is just to jump around and dance like a fool. Did Cheap Trick know that their songs would have a lasting impact for 40 years? I don’t think so. But now here they are, in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, continuing to play, entertain and engage audiences everywhere. Their catalog of music is evergreen. And isn’t that what we hope to achieve as content marketers?


Michael Weiss is Vice President of Marketing at Creative Circle. He is a digital strategist, content marketer, and presentation coach.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn here.