Conferences, symposiums, summits, trade shows, roundtables and world expos. From intimate, invitation-only events to sprawling Las Vegas-style exhibit halls, most of us have attended at least one industry-specific event.
While the business value has been debated off and on over the years, and it was predicted that webinars and other digital forms of online training would eventually replace live events, there is just no substitute for face time when you want to establish rapport with people who share your interests and business goals.
As content marketing strategy continues to gain momentum, an interesting phenomenon is occurring – real-world, in-person events are starting to edge out trendier content tactics, like video. In fact, according to Content Marketing Institute, in-person events have been ranked as the most effective content marketing tactic over the past four years by B2B marketers.
This should come as no surprise when you consider all the pre- and post-event marketing opportunities.
The ability to deliver information in a variety of formats makes real-world events a content marketer’s dream. All it takes is some planning and an understanding of your target audiences preferred consumption patterns.
Content marketing channels around an industry conference or trade show abound, from pre-event storytelling through interviews and articles written by speakers in advance and from live blogging to creating social media advocates during and afterward.
Optimize and Amplify: Stealing a Page From Lee Odden’s Playbook:
Regular readers of this blog know how generous Lee is with sharing his online marketing expertise. Often, he takes this one step further with a play-by-play of tactics he employs to get the most ROI from many content marketing tactics.
Last year, preceding Content Marketing World’s annual conference, he laid it all out for readers, whether you were attending, speaking or sponsoring. We’ve republished his tips here:
Before the event:
- Write headlines, descriptions, tags and make trackable short URLs.
- Pre-write tweets, updates and decide on a hashtag.
- Submit your session to event listing sites; create events on Facebook and LinkedIn.
- Create a contest or buzz around your presentation to inspire others to tell their networks.
- Issue an optimized press release.
- Schedule interviews with media attending the event and/or local media.
- Connect with other speakers in advance.
- Create a teaser for your presentation.
- Announce your event attendance through email and your social channels.
- When you meet people before your presentation, don’t be shy about sharing when you are speaking.
- Create a check-in notice on Foursquare inviting people to attend your session.
During the event:
- Create content the audience can participate with. I like to take photos of the audience and post. to our Facebook page so they can tag themselves.
- Use tweetable, shareable content in your presentation.
- Give something away to motivate desired behaviors like asking questions.
- Always include a report or fulfillment piece in your thank you page.
- Have someone on your team monitoring tweets and buzz during your presentation. Interact as appropriate.
After the event:
- Curate buzz about the presentation into a blog post and/or newsroom post.
- Follow up on questions asked and fulfillment deliverables.
- Connect with new contacts through appropriate social channels.
- Thank the conference for having you.
- If you were on a panel, thank the panelists and moderator.
- Thank any live bloggers that covered your session.
- Use media coverage from the event in your newsroom, corporate email and other communications.
Pros of Real-World Events:
- Builds your brand
- Establishes thought leadership
- Inspires confidence in your employees
- Cited as a primary source of qualified B2B leads.
- Drives social media engagement and amplification
- May garner attention of mainstream media and industry bloggers
Cons of Real-World Events:
- There are costs involved: travel, event attendance fees
- Time to plan and/or attend may be make it hard to justify ROI
- Perceived as a sales tactic and not part of an overall content marketing strategy
What the Marketing Experts Are Saying:
“As event marketing naysayers continue raising this channel’s disadvantages, more than 4 out of every 10 B2B marketers are tapping into the opportunities from event-based prospecting.” Business 2 Community
“92 percent agreed that experiential marketing builds brand awareness and brand relationships.” Destination CRM
“A total of 84 percent of the event marketing executives surveyed believe events and experiential marketing are either ‘very important/critical’ or ‘important’ to their organizations—and driving this perception are sales and revenue.” Expo Web
“When asked to list the top three marketing elements for accelerating and deepening relationships, event marketing led at 64 percent, followed by social marketing at 55 percent and Web marketing at 54 percent.” Event Marketing Institute
Real-World Event Content Marketing Examples:
Ted Talks grasped the power of content from the start, as evidenced by its mantra: “ideas worth spreading.”
- They have developed and executed one of the most highly integrated content platforms around
- Not only does each Tedx showcase their brand, it also establishes its equity and delivers on its brand promise
- At 150 million and growing, they’ve attracted one of the largest army of brand evangelists in the world. See this infographic.
Apple is another early advocate of face-to-face events, understanding how the tactic would showcase their content.
- Seen as the lynchpin of their marketing efforts, eagerly anticipated by management and experienced by every employee in a standing-room-only cafeteria
- It’s not just an event but also a golden marketing opportunity to engage and sustain his target audience
- Steve Jobs personally oversaw the content strategy, content creation and integrated marketing efforts to forge deeper, more sustained connections with an audience of both consumers and employees.
Photo credit: Creative Commons
Guidelines for Content Marketing With Real-World Events:
Even if you’re not as big a brand as Apple, you can create powerful content marketing from your organization’s own events or from those you attend. Here’s how:
Record the speaker’s presentation at the event. Most conference organizers are set up for audio, but, as a backup, travel with your own microphone that you can connect to your own digital recorder. Content marketing output: white papers, articles, blog posts, podcasts
Tip: Post the original text transcript along with the audio files, so that the keywords appearing in the content is discoverable through search engines.
Capture the presentation on video. Break down the video into its most relevant highlights. Content marketing output: Create a demo reel and post on website or blog.
Send it to relevant industry thought leaders and journalists. Post on YouTube. Take a still screen shot and use it on your social media profiles establishing yourself as a thought leader and letting your connections know you’re on the speaking circuit.
Tip: A wireless microphone synched to a pickup on the camera will produce a better sound than the camera’s microphone.
Create a graphic representation of the talk. Repurpose the slide deck as a stand-alone, such as a SlideShare presentation which can also be posted to your LinkedIn profile to demonstrate your expertise.
Tip: Include diagrams, photographs or other images that will add clarity to the presentation, since information shared outside of the original context may be confusing. Graphics can also help break up long blocks of text.
Create engaging emails about the event. Whether it’s your company owned event or one you are speaking at, giving event details a prominent spot in your email content will help drive attendance and engagement.
Tip: Plan for event-related content after the conference, such as follow up posts, news mentions, satisfaction ratings or pictures of attendees to generate excitement for your next event.
Treat your speaking calendar as content. Posting event listings where you will be speaking either in an online calendar or as a graphic on your website gives prospective attendees an idea of the content you will be delivering at the event. At the same time, you can show clients or prospects the rich variety and robust quantity of events listed, further establishing your expertise.
Tip: Treat event listings as you would any other piece of content: optimize them for search and announce them across multiple platforms. Include structured data on your events listing page to leverage rich snippets in Google.
The power of attending or hosting real-world events transcends their content marketing value. Meeting people in person adds richness to your online relationships, exposes you to new clients and can lend itself to establishing new alliances.
All businesses have the opportunity to create a content platform and use events to extend and deepen customer engagement. This is the real value and ROI of events.
What have you taken away from the last conference or trade show you attended or sponsored?
If you like in-depth articles like this about content marketing, be sure to visit our index of content marketing tactics.
Photo credit: Shutterstock