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Przemek Bryniak30.7.2018

CMA Live 2018 Review

This is why I could not wait for CMA Live 18 and really looked forward to receiving another incredible dose of energy and knowledge from people who currently shape the marketing trends in the world.

The event traditionally takes place in the heart of Edinburgh; the Hub, a converted church situated at the top of Royal Mile. However, unlike the venue, CMA Live is not your traditional conference, where officials in suits discuss business. CMA Live provides a relaxed and open atmosphere where visitors come to connect with each other on a more personal level, and in turn, this atmosphere facilitates the learning and development of skills.

The conference traditionally features many world-class content marketing and social media keynote speakers and with each year its popularity grows. Therefore, it is no surprise that it attracted people from many countries beyond the UK such as France, the Netherlands, Russia, Slovakia and even Australia, Canada and the USA.

I have written a quick review of some of the talks, that I was lucky enough to see and I have also included the key takeaway messages from each.


Brian is a millennial keynote speaker, change evangelist and live video thought leader. In his talk “Press the damn button: the digital mindset shift required to stand-out and change the world”, he argued that millennials (people born between 1980 and 2000) should be an important target group for marketing.

As a whopping 75% of millennials would choose to spend their money on an experience rather than buying something material and this ‘experience’ should be offered through marketing. Brian pointed that the best way to do this is through video marketing – a tool that allows you to shrink the distance between you and your audience.

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Through the use of video, your audience will see you as a human; they will hear your voice, see your mannerisms and get a sense of your personality. This allows them to relate with you as a person and is better than any other tool in showing your brand personality. His final tip was to forget about perfection because perfection is fiction. Instead of dwelling on how to create the perfect video just ‘press the damn button’ and start creating content or you will never start.


The next speaker was Karen Reyburn, the owner of The Profitable Firm, a creative agency that works exclusively with accountants. She spoke at CMA Live the previous year and I remember well her speech about niche marketing. We were very flattered as Karen used ACA as an example of a company that executes this ideology well. ACA, as an architectural practice, focuses almost entirely on the Self Build market, meaning we provide specialized and tailored services that meet our clients’ needs.

This year, Karen went one step further presenting top tips on how to embrace the power of finding your niche. To do this, you need to answer several simple questions: what you do and whom do you serve and what is most important: whom you don’t serve. By establishing what your niche is, you will be able to filter your potential clients and therefore your clients will be the most suitable for your business.


The next speech was very close to me, as it was the success story of content marketing at ACA. Allan Corfield shared his journey as a business owner and how embracing the philosophy of content marketing helped him not only create a successful business but also become a thought leader in the architectural industry.

Allan reinforced the importance of identifying a niche and how long-term and consistent engagement in creating content brought opportunities both for his business and his personal development as an industry leader.

Allan also discussed the importance of educating your potential clients, to benefit not only them but also your business. To achieve this, a company needs to create a piece of ‘killer content’. For ACA, this piece of ‘killer content’ was the eBook that answered all the initial questions that a potential self-builder may have when preparing for a Self Build project. This eBook saves time for both sides and helps self-builders to realise what they can expect from their dream home and ensure that the mutual cooperation will go smoothly and the clients will be 100% happy from the outcome.


This presentation was quite unique as Salma Jafri could not deliver this in person. Instead, she delivered her talk about crafting a ‘Video First’ content strategy via a video call. The main assumption of the ‘Video First’ strategy is to create a video first and centre this as the core for your content strategy – then create other types of content based on it. The current SEO algorithms provide greater rewards to videos, especially native and live videos uploaded directly to social media channels (Facebook Live, Instagram Video, Linkedin Video, etc.).

Salma presented a 3H video content framework which can raise the effectiveness of your video content strategy significantly. According to this, your video content should be based on the following 3 types of videos: Help (how to, tutorials videos etc.), Hub (videos designed to your existing clients/audience and is valuable to them) and Hero (designed to attract attention and raise awareness of your company).

Like every year, CMA Live 18 awarded the best performing marketers with the community awards in six different categories. Allan Corfield Architects sponsored an award for the Best in-house marketer. The winner was Alex Newton from Superfast IT.


Ann is one of the most reputable marketers in the world so I was really looking forward to seeing her in action. The main points of her presentation were built around one of her favourite books, Charlotte’s Web. According to Ann, the spider, Charlotte is the best content marketer in the world, all her efforts are subordinated to help her friend by weaving words into her web. This is what content marketing should be about –  helping the customers, not the seller.

The other points Ann discussed:

  • Create a system for your writing habits – if you don’t know what to write about, your email inbox can provide you with inspiration for new blog posts. Answer your customers’ questions – help them.
  • The vast majority of content creation is preparation and editing, not writing.
  • Record what you see, hear, smell taste, touch and feel, and find your brand voice. Write only to one person – imagine that you are writing about one thing to one person at one time. Find out what their problem is and try to solve it. Put more thought in what you write as quality is more important than quantity.
  • Write every day, even if you don’t publish every day.

This year for the first time in CMA Live history, the attendees could book a roundtable session with some of the specialists and ask them for top tips related to their businesses. I was given the opportunity to attend a 60-minute session with Ann and 6 other peers and work on my copywriting skills, which I found really beneficial.


Another very interesting talk was presented by Gavin Bell, an Edinburgh based young entrepreneur. Gavin is a Facebook ads specialist and a popular video blogger. Currently, 76% of marketers claim that video has increased sales in their company. Gavin discussed how you can improve the effectiveness of your Facebook ads through the use of videos.

He shared his experience of video production, reflecting on the beginning of his vlogging career and his anxiety about what his friends will think about him. Because of this, he chose backgrounds that made him hardly visible in the video. Many people that I spoke with at the conference shared this worry and therefore Gavin’s personal advice on how to overcome this really resonated with the audience:

  • Be introspective and identify what holds you back from creating videos and rationalize these concerns
  • ‘Embrace the messy’ – accept the fact that in the beginning, your videos won’t be perfect but they will improve as you gain experience and confidence
  • Videos provide the unique opportunity to minimise the distance between you and your clients – people don’t like to buy from strangers, videos make you familiar and people will feel like they already know you; thus converting your leads into clients
  • Use Facebook ads to promote your best performing content and follow up the people who show interest in it


Chris Marr, the father of CMA, delivered a thought-provoking speech on the power of online learning communities. Basically, this is what led to the creation of the event that you are reading about now. Chris discussed how belonging to an online group of like-minded people can help you develop. It would be difficult to find a better person to speak about this subject than Chris.
Your success is determined by the people you surround yourself with. I joined CMA when I started working at ACA, and I know that I can go there for help or advice and every time I will get the answer and learn something.
Chris stated that “it is human nature to be part of something larger than ourselves… to be part of something we believe in” and naturally we perform better when we are part of a learning community of peers – people with similar experience and expertise like you inspire you to be your best self.


Jon Burkhart presented two very entertaining but also informative talks. In the first one, he proposed the use of POPS model: Provocation, Originality, Play and Surprise, in both blogging and social media marketing.
A key message from his talks was the notion of curiosity and how difficult it can be to keep hold of this, as often we are too busy to be curious. However, being curious is crucial for marketing success and it is one of the main factors when thinking outside the box.
In his second speech, when closing the event during the beernote talk, every attendee enjoyed Jon’s summary of the show, which was full of games and humour and a pint –  the perfect way to end a busy two-day conference. Jon summarised the main points of the conference in an explosive manner which, and everyone left the hub enthusiastic and energised.


Chris closed the conference with his advice on how to give your brand a voice. Chris pointed out that there is too much content out there – we don’t need to create more content, just the right content. Your customers do not need your content until they do need it, and you have to be there and offer the functionality/service when they need.

Your marketing goal should be to help people to decide that they do not need your products… as long as it is true. Your content should be about your potential clients and helping to make them successful. People don’t hate marketing per se, they hate bad marketing.


Once again, CMA Live 2018 proved to me that the real power of this conference is not only what you learn, but also being part of a community of people who inspire and motivate. Because of this, at the end of the two days, you leave the venue not only full of ideas and practical knowledge, but with a mindset that will help you to actually use this knowledge in practice.

Of course, you can buy online courses and resources that will give you a lot of information, however, this can be overwhelming and leave you unable to implement this in practice. Chris Marr captured this perfectly in his speech when he explained why attending the conference is priceless – to meet people, connect with them and gain the energy that will make you achieve what you were unable to before.

If you are looking for inspiration for your business and want to take it to the next level, why not book your ticket for next years conference or maybe even join the CMA community?
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