CLEVELAND, Ohio — Orange was the color of the day as Content Marketing World brought brightly clad attendees to downtown Cleveland to learn how to package their messages so consumers will hear them.

Orange is the unofficial color of the event, which bills itself as the the largest content marketing gathering in the world, said organizer Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute.

“The only way to differentiate your brand is how you communicate. That’s why content marketing is so important,” said Pulizzi, sporting orange faux-alligator shoes for the occasion.

About 3,500 participants from 50 countries are expected at the event, which runs today through Friday at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland. Content Marketing World’s 120 sessions and workshops offer lessons on how to create content, focus on audience needs, measure engagement and plan marketing strategies.

“This is where corporate brands become media companies,” Pulizzi said. “This is what the future of marketing looks like.”

Pulizzi confirmed that while his company, Content Marketing Institute, was acquired last year by a London-based firm, the Content Marketing World event, currently in its seventh year, will stay in Cleveland in 2018. He said they are looking to lock in future dates with the convention center.

“We’d like to stay here,” Pulizzi said.

This year’s keynote speakers include popular YouTube vlogger Casey Neistat, Pulitzer Prize winning author Colson Whitehead and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Local speakers include Brandon Jirousek, director of digital content and operations for the Cleveland Cavaliers; Paul Roetzer, founder of PR 20/20; Bethany Chambers, director of audience engagement at North Coast Media; and Laura Cameron, vice president of digital marketing at KeyBank.

Friday is the inaugural CMWorld/Cleveland Clinic Health marketing summit. Check here for the full schedule.

On Tuesday, marketing professionals bought lunches at local food trucks, and ate at outdoor tables to soak up the Cleveland atmosphere. Afterward, they got to work in three-hour-long workshops that drilled down into the specifics of marketing.

Ronni K. Gothardl Christiansen of Odense, Denmark, arrived with three other employees from his web development firm.

“This is our first convention outside of Europe,” Gothardl Christiansen said. “We hope to get a better impression of the American-based market.”

Gothardl Christiansen has a background in coding, and he hoped that Content Marketing World would help him understand non-technical businesses. “I’m trying to see the world with different glasses,” he said.

Bob Meindl, director of content marketing at Cisco Systems Inc. in Boxborough, Massachusettes, has come to every Content Marketing World because he knows that placing customers, instead of products, at the center of marketing efforts gets results.

“You have to have content that speaks to customers. You can’t constantly talk about the product all the time,” Meindl said.

Meindl thinks that this event is successful because it creates community. “Everyone is rooting for everyone else to succeed,” he said.

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