3 Ways Maximize Your Conference Participation With Content
Marketing conference season is in full swing—Is your conference content?
For content marketers, conferences are amazing opportunities to create, distribute and consume content.
They’re laser-focused on a specific topic.
Conference audiences are physically present in one location. Further, they’re predisposed to acquire as much information as possible.
Translation: Your chances of getting their attention focused on your content is significantly higher than average!
More importantly, conferences are ALL about business.
Content Marketing World, billed as the world’s largest content conference, underscores this point.
To create quality content you need an editorial plan to tap into the power of conferences.
This is true whether you’re a conference producer, presenter, sponsor, attendee or outside spectator.
Otherwise—no conference content magic happens!
Conference content plan: 3 Steps you need
For your conference content plan, you need the following:
1. What are your content marketing goals?
Answer these 3 questions:
- What is our content marketing mission? Based on Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs research, only 28% of B2B businesses have a documented editorial mission. (For more about content marketing missions, read Joe Pulizzi’s Epic Content.)
- What do we want to achieve at this conference? Options include: increase awareness, build email list, qualify leads, close sales, and/or support existing sales.
- What do we stand for? This relates to your over-arching business goals and brand. How do you distinguish your company from the competition? (Here’s help with your branding.)
Based on your responses to these 3 questions, set metrics to assess your success. Make sure your metrics are specific and measurable.
2. Who are you targeting with this content and why?
Determine the people you want to reach with your conference content.
Your audience options include:
- Conference producers. They’re the live event equivalent of publishers.
- Conference presenters. They’re the experts, influencers and stars. They attract attendees and provide fresh, quality content.
- Conference sponsors. They’re the conference equivalent of advertisers.
- Conference attendees. They pay to attend the event. They’ve got their own objectives. For example, Social Media Examiner’s Mike Stelzner, Phil Mershon and Emily Crume always attend Content Marketing World.
- Others outside of the conference. They follow the conference via post-conference videos, social media followers, and people who consume related conference content. While they don’t directly generate revenue, they help amplify your content.
After defining your conference content audience, ask the following questions for each segment. This is an abbreviated version of a marketing persona.
Your goal: Understand your audience’s context to ensure they receive, consume and share your conference content.
- Who needs your conference information? Specifically what’s their role related to your business?
- What information do they need? Think customer-focused content.
- Why do they need information? Without answering this question, you can’t persuade them.
- When do they need information? If not now, how will you support their future needs?
- Where do they seek information? What’s their motivation for attending the conference?
3. How does your conference content fit in your editorial offering and into the event’s offering?
After you determine the what, who and why of your conference content, you need to consider:
- What content should we develop?
- When should we produce it?
- Where should we publish and promote it?
To help you, answer these 3 questions:
- Do you know what quality conference content looks like? If not, don’t be embarrassed. Study successful conference content.
- Have you created conference content in the past? If so: How did it perform? Is it still relevant? Can it be updated and improved? What gaps did you leave?
- Where are opportunities for your content to stand out and shine? What hook will you use to attract and keep attention? Assess what you and the competition did at past conferences.
At a minimum go through the conference agenda. Develop a plan before you get to the event!
3 Types of conference content
1. Pre-conference content
Assess your pre-conference goals:
- Producers: Get sponsors and attendees to generate sales and profits. Social Media Marketing World makes their best offer for the following year’s show at the end of the current conference.
- Presenters: Have a sold-out session everyone loves. Nobody wants to be Velocity’s Doug Kessler who once had less than 10 people in a large room! Also build thought leadership and generate leads.
- Sponsors: Maximize conference investment ROI. This translates to increased brand awareness by association. Key metrics including audience, leads and sales.
Actionable Conference Content Marketing Tips (with examples!)
Build community and on-going excitement for their conferences with massive high quality online and offline content. Take a page from conference expert Content Marketing Institute. They extend their content onto social media. They run an on-going discussion and weekly Twitter Chat at #CMWorld.
Produce epic content. Lee Odden and his Top Rank team created the epic conference playbook. Their 2014 Content Marketing World ebook series won a MarketingProfs’s Bright Bulb award for the campaign.
Interview speakers and thought leaders. Ask speakers to answer a set of questions. This can be done as a single presenter spotlight or as a panel interview. For example, I did a panel interview to support my sessions in Content Marketing World 2015 (Expert Content Advice and How Social Media And Content Work Together.)
2. During conference content
To be able to create conference content on the fly, be prepared. This is where your conference content plan is key.
Know your conference goals:
- Producers. Ensure everything takes place as planned. Capture sessions for later content and products. Create conference video and outtakes for social media.
- Presenters. Give an amazing presentation. It’s not just the content but also, the experience! Watch Tamsen Webster’s Content Marketing World and Michael Porter’s Social Media Marketing World presentations. (Watch and Study their videos.) Also, establish thought leadership and generate leads!
- Sponsors. Use the opportunity to connect with thought leaders and prospects. Make your booth worth the visit! Don’t just scan badges. Make your give-aways talkable. I’m a fan of photo ops. If you’re presenting, don’t drone on about your product. It’s the kiss of death!
- Attendees. Live blog and share useful tidbits on social media. Take photos, photos and more photos. Don’t forget video. Also interview presenters, thought leaders and attendees.
Actionable Conference Content Marketing Tips (with examples!)
Use visual notetaking. Kelly Kingman of KingmanInk is the go-to expert. Don’t take my word for it. She’s the one who does Content Marketing World and MarketingProfs B2B. It’s eye-candy that everyone snaps and puts on social media.
Provide pre-formatted social media content. Many speakers imbed pithy sharable content in their presentations. You can even spotlight the fact to your audience with verbal and visual hints. Also, pre-schedule social shares.
Offer related content freebies. This isn’t a real time option. It requires planning. Vertical Measures’s Arnie Kuenn shared a free e-copy of Content Marketing Works. Scott Stratton signed 100 physical copies of his updated Un-Marketing book after his talk. It was sponsored by Emma’s email (They have my favorite give-away: t-shirts!)
Live blog to support your presentation and leverage other people’s expertise. Top Rank is the live-blogging experts. Ashley Zeckman has taken over Lee Odden’s mantle. Give non-attendees the inside scoop they seek. It has built-in amplification by the speaker and the conference.
3. Post-conference content
Be ready to produce, publish and amplify your post-conference content. This maximizes your reach.
Again, ensure your content is aligned with your conference and business goals.
- Producers. Develop a set of related articles. Offer a conference video and outtakes. Social Media Marketing World does a great job of this. Drip out content through out the year to build excitement for the next show.
- Presenters. Have a set of articles created before the conference ready to publish to support your thought leadership. Have follow up emails ready to send attendees and leads. Post your presentation on LinkedIn Slideshare (if okay with the conference).
- Sponsors. Have a variety of different followups ready to rollout. Distinguish between give-away and information seekers and qualified leads.
- Attendees. Create a follow up presentation for your colleagues. Share the knowledge. Many Content Marketing World attendees took notes in Powerpoint. Write up your impressions for blog and other social media publishing. Be active on social media. Follow up with everyone you met.
Actionable Conference Content Marketing Tips (with examples!)
Write post-conference articles. By far, this is the most popular option. Both Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi and MarketingProfs’s Ann Handley published quality content extending their conference keynotes.
Share conference presentations. Most conferences ask presenters not to share their content publicly. It diminishes live attendance value. But as a track sponsor, Curata offered a unique spin. They scheduled a webinar replaying Razor Social’s Ian Cleary’s presentation. It’s a content home run!
Give your audience a sneak peak. Drip out content from your previous conference to attract new attendees. Hubspot did a masterful job of this. They posted Seth Godin’s 2015 Inbound keynote on their 2016 conference page.
The conference content bottom line:
Conferences are a content goldmine.
They combine content and information-focused audience. This makes distribution frictionless.
To maximize your conference investment, plan your content!
This applies whether you’re a producer, presenter, sponsor or attendee.
Not sure what to do?
Give your team this article to read. It’s chock full of ideas you can easily apply.
Challenge them to generate at least 10 ideas in a half-hour.
Then email you their ideas.
At your next staff meeting spend time vetting the best ideas.
Research shows individuals are best at idea generation and groups are best at qualifying the best ones.
Just do it.
I dare you!
BTW, if you attended Content Marketing World and I didn’t get to meet you. I’m sorry. I’d love it if you contributed to my post-conference article.
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