So, you’ve just concluded a great two day industry conference. You have the slides for 40 or 50 odd presentations and a video recording of the whole show. As per usual, you will make those slides available within the next week, complete the post event report and then most likely forget about the event for a few months while you get stuck into the next project.
But hold on. You are currently sitting on what is conceivably the most-up-to-date bank of knowledge to be found anywhere in that industry. Here is a serious opportunity to build your event and business brand, gain a wealth of new marketing leads, and even generate some extra direct revenue.
This is where your content marketing hat now needs to come on. The question is, do you have such a hat? Do you have the time and resources built into your business cycle to allow for this?
The answer to this is should be a resounding, ‘yes’.
Look around you and you will see the marketing industry is currently undergoing a huge shift. Consumers are becoming increasingly desensitised to promotional content. The email blasts, newsletters, or even the promotional blogs are giving diminishing returns.
The arc of the narrative now points firmly towards delivering free-to-access useful and usable content: first of all engage your customer, earn their genuine interest and trust, and then promote your product.
This trend is catching on already in B2B events. Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of producing useful, impartial and non-promotional content. But, the pace of change is a little slow and still it tends to remain as a bolt-on to the already busy workloads of production and marketing teams. This is understandable. Producing and selling events offers immediate and clearly measurable revenue, content marketing does not. So why even bother?
The answer is three-fold. Firstly, it helps build credibility for your brand. As Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, says, “content marketing is not about ‘what you sell’ it’s about ‘what you stand for.’” But of course brand value does translate to commercial value. By hooking a customer through the power of your brand, they are already one step closer to making a purchase decision.
Secondly, you can generate direct revenue even from this kind of marketing. If you choose to produce a comprehensive content report following on from an event, for example, you can still use the platform to include some adverts, and even a smattering of affiliated articles. You might use it to aid re-booking or even base inclusion in the report on a fee. All this should be done cautiously. You do not want to compromise the value of this marketing. (The priority should be quality of content versus commercial gain). The right balance will be determined by the type of show, its tenure, market positioning and the audience.
The third reason that content marketing can help produce value is by helping to scoop up new leads to pile into your marketing/sales funnel.
Place yourself in the position of a new a customer for a minute to see how this can play out. Let us say you wish to attend an event on infrastructure investment. You ask around and receive a few recommendations, so you decide to do some further research on the internet to narrow it down. You might discover a very useful article/report on the specifics of infrastructure investment. It cites some pretty senior industry spokespeople. The article makes mention of the infrastructure investment show, but it also lays down some more breadcrumbs with links to an E-Book your business has produced (download-able through email) which compiles all those great speakers into one book with full-length interviews. Again this E-Book mentions the show, but it also links to a webinar in which one or two of your speakers are presenting.
As the customer moves through these content marketing pieces, he or she is also moving further along your own sales/marketing funnel through self-selective engagement. As they do they are gaining a more in depth appreciation of your event brand and the quality of content you convey. So, when a member of the event sales team calls up the customer a few days later, the decision to buy a ticket is made very easy.
So, what can the Portfolio Director or Head of Content do to align with this new shift in marketing strategy?
The fundamental answer is to develop a healthy ratio between promotional content and the educational, non-promotional content that shares the wealth of knowledge that event businesses have at their disposal.
As to the ideal ratio, there are varied opinions out there, but I believe 60:30:10 feels about right. This suggests that 60% of your content should be educational information which is non-partisan, 30% should be promotional and the remaining 10% can be direct discount offerings and the like.
Following on from an event is the perfect time to start off this process. This is when you have a stack of up-to-date knowledge which can be aggregated into a report, or a series of articles or blogs which can be shared amongst your community and beyond. This should easily provide enough information to power the marketing machine until you are fully into the production phase for the next show where you can start to deploy your newly acquired speaker’s expertise to create more educational content.
In conclusion, content marketing will become the new norm in marketing over time. It aligns with a push across all markets towards more open, sharing-based and user friendly platforms. But, it also opens up new and exciting – and commercially attractive – opportunities for your business. So, now is the time to grab a hold of this gift horse and start deploying it. Do it well and it will repay you handsomely.