How To Turn Up The Content Heat At Your Next Event
Events are content marketing machines. They consist of content created before the event, during the event and after the event that engages a wide audience, brings together influencers, builds relationships and generates revenues.
A well executed event accomplishes this for participants, regardless of their role at the event or business objectives.
As a columnist, blogger, educator and speaker, I regularly attend and participate in a wide range of events and conferences. I never cease to be amazed that most attendees, speakers and sponsors neglect to take full advantage of events.
The reality is that it doesn’t matter whether your boss has paid for you to attend or you’ve walked backwards into the exhibit hall or open events (btw– A better alternative for getting in is to volunteer to help out.) You must think in terms of what can I get out of this conference? Personally, I make it a goal to see what new marketing initiative I get inspiration for from each event and aim to get content for at least three blog articles.
To really take advantage of an event, you need a plan with specific objectives. This is just as true when you’re a speaker who’s getting paid. Even if it’s just another gig for you, you can still learn something.
Set goals for the event.
Understand why are you attending the event. What do you plan to take away? While it may be easy to say I’m getting paid or I’m here to learn what’s going on in my field, you need solid, measurable objectives. Here are five questions to help guide you.
- What do you want to learn?
- Are there influencers you want to meet?
- Are you looking to acquire new prospects, suppliers or distributors?
- Do you want to meet with your prospects and clients at the conference?
- Are your competitors present at the event? Are they presenting? Are they a sponsor?
Make a plan
- Do your homework. Understand that you can’t do everything. Bear in mind that you’re going to need to pace yourself.
- Check the schedule and make a plan. Which talks do you want to see? Who do you want to connect with?
- Connect with colleagues and/or clients who live near the event. Use the event as an opportunity to catch a drink and get some out of the office time with people.
- Determine how you’ll capture information. Ensure that you’ve got the tools you need. Carry backup drives. One of my favorite conference tools is a power strip since you’d be surprised at how many conference rooms don’t have enough electrical outlets. Adaptors – As a Mac user, there’s always a need to bring the right connectors. Camera/video – You want to make sure that you get some fun images to share with your followers.
- Get handout materials. Whether it’s business cards or other collateral, you need to make sure that you’ve got enough for the size of the event.
- Make sure that you’ve got the right clothes. Carry backups whether it’s a shirt or an extra pair of shoes because accidents happen and not every event is in a major city where it’s easy to get replacements. For example, since I wear a hard-to-get shoe size, I always make sure that I have an extra set of shoes.
- Reach out to people with whom you want to connect. Don’t depend on chance. Have a reason that they should engage with you. This is a case where a mass email doesn’t cut it. Think outside of the event. Many conference locations have terrible food and coffee. Do something special. For example, NYC’s Jacob Javitis Center has one Starbucks and a few not very good fast food outlets. Consider a tea at a fashionable hotel or drinks with a view.
- Participate in pre-event activities. Your objective is to be seen as one of the in gang. Contribute to the social media conversation. Follow the Twitter hashtag. For example, Content Marketing World has a weekly chat going on Tuesdays at noon (NYC time).
- Create relevant content. If you’ve got a publishing platform, write related articles. Incorporate the relevant social media hashtags and a calls-to-action.
During the event.
- Capture information from the event. Use a combination of methods so that you can enhance your post-event content.
- Supplement your talk with relevant tweets. Leverage the power of your following and share tweets and relevant content to coordinate with your presentation. (BTW- Here are 5 speaker tips.)
- Participate on social media. Use the show’s hashtags and share your thoughts on relevant platforms. (Here are tips for socializing your event.)
- Collect business cards. Don’t just stuff all of the cards you collect into your right hand pocket. Take a break and jot down some quick notes on the back of each card. Take it from me, what you think that you’ll remember will blur once you’re on your way home.
- Keep your eye out for the unusual shot. Have a camera ready to capture information on the fly. Follow my dad’s advice from the pre-digital days. Take lots of shots. It’s the only way to be sure to get a great image. My favorite conference image was from an Affiliate Summit East where a speaker was wearing stockings that mentioned Twitter. Don’t underestimate the value of short Instagram Video content.
- Be open to last minute opportunities. Don’t book yourself up so much that you don’t have time to do something interesting.
- Take some time either before or after the event to explore the city or location. Especially since travel can be so stressful these days, take some me time to see the sites or do something special. For example, as an avid knitter, I try to find the local yarn shop and buy something special.
- Create content. Use the power of the information you’ve gathered to develop useful content for your target audience.
- Follow up with people. Don’t just return home and dump the business cards in your bottom drawer. Send a brief note or email using the information you jotted down on the back.
- Continue to follow the event’s hashtag. Contribute to the post-event conversation. Comment on other people’s content.
- Post your presentation on Slideshare. Extend the reach of your presentation. (Of course, it’s important to see how the organization plans to promote your presentation.)
- Start planning for the next event. Enter it in your calendar and set milestones for your pre-event content creation efforts. Waiting for the last minute means fewer opportunities and higher costs.
Events and conferences in particular are great opportunities for generating fresh, interesting content, but it takes planning to maximize the impact of your attendance.
What’s your favorite tip for maximizing the benefits of a conference?
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