Content Marketer’s Guide To Attending Conferences

Expert Tips To Maximize Your Conference Content

Conference content guide

Marketing conference season kicks off next week with Content Marketing World.

These mega events are content marketing bonanzas.

Conferences provide a hotbed of content opportunities for the astute content creator.

They raise awareness around key industry topics. Examine the conference agenda to learn what’s hot and where the field is headed.

As content creator, maximize your conference content before, during and after the actual event.

Conferences require significant resource investment, both time and budget.

Like any other marketing activity, expect a return on investment in terms of creating stellar content, connecting with influencers and others, and build your audience.

To maximize your content content, start with a plan and goals.

At a large, session and activity packed conference like Content Marketing World, it’s easy to get swept up with your peers.

The result: Your conference content may miss important information you need!

To ensure content marketing conference success, review the agenda and related documentation to develop your specific goals and plans before you head to the airport.

If you’re attending a conference with company colleagues, adapt a divide and conquer approach. This ensures that you cover a broader array of sessions and meet different people.

For example, Outbrain’s team plans to do live reporting from Content Marketing World. To promote it, they gathered commentary from the people attending.

3 Key conference content elements

Assess these 3 conference content elements: people, sessions and exhibitors. Where appropriate make a list of tangible conference content outcomes. Ideally, to maximize conference content, this content should be integrated into your editorial calendar.

1. People

While conferences are key for face-to-face meetings, take a broader view of who you’ll meet. Consider how you can help others.

  • Who’s attending the conference you want to connect with? Why do you want to meet them? Think beyond making a sale.
  • Are there influencers with whom you’d like to connect? Do you want to co-create content with them? Take the time to outline your ideas.
  • Who else would you like to meet beyond the speakers and influencers?

Actionable Conference Content Marketing Tips:

  • Check the conference hashtag. Many marketing conferences use their hashtag all year round. For example, Content Marketing World holds a weekly TwitterChat with their speakers. It’s a great way to get on influencers’ radar. It’s also a good icebreaker for meeting new people.
  • Examine the conference app. While conference apps vary, most conferences are looking to up their integration. For example, Content Marketing World’s app allows people to connect pre-conference.
  • Have a method for remembering people’s names. If you get a pile of business cards, chances are you won’t remember who they are!
  • Meet new people. You never know who’ll become the next hot star. At Social Media Marketing World, Noah Kagan got everyone in the room to take photographs of their neighbors and to tweet them.
  • Find a reason to follow up with everyone you met. Your goal should be relationship building, not sales.

2. Talks, sessions and activities

The main keynotes and sessions are the main course of your conference experience. Take some time to consider your options.

  • Which sessions do you want to attend and why? Don’t just sign up! Jot down why you’re want to attend this session. Are you want specific information? Do you want to meet the speaker? Be aware: more and more conferences are allowing attendees to pre-select sessions.
  • Are there special organized activities? Having fun is baked into most conferences. For example, Content Marketing World always has a concert! RazorSocial’s Ian Cleary always sticks with the main conference events to maximize his networking.

Actionable Conference Content Marketing Tips:

  • Have a means to gather session notes. Personally, I prefer to handwrite my notes to cements ideas. That said, digital notes make content creation and social media sharing easier, especially liveblogging. Lee Odden and his Top Rank team are the masters of this art. 
  • Bring your power cords and batteries. Want to get the most out of a session? Sit in the front like the bright kids in class. (BTW, if you’re not sure the session’s worthwhile, sit in the back so you can make an easy exist.)
  • Don’t under-estimate lesser known speakers. I first heard Andy Crestodina speak at a packed Content Marketing World lunch and learn. He was a paying attendee but they needed a last minute speaker. Think like a boy scout.

3. Exhibits

There’s more to the exhibit hall than drinks, snacks and give-aways!

  • Which companies are sponsors? Are there new products or competitors to check out? At a minimum, assess the latest trends. What’s missing? Where are there gaps and opportunities in product offerings?

Actionable Conference Content Marketing Tips:

  • Use the opportunity to test new product offerings. You can use this experience as the basis for a product review or comparison.
  • Give people a reason visit your booth. At Content Marketing World, I actively seek out the NewsCred booth because they serve the best coffee. Their team couldn’t be more helpful.
  • Don’t limit your options. Even individuals can hand out swag and freebies. Look at my cool Content Marketing World flip-flops.

    Conference content - Branded Giveaways

    Cassio Politi and Heidi Cohen with custom CMI swag from Brazil

  • Find great give-ways. This mainly applies to exhibitors. Since people travel light, think stuff visitors will find room to keep. My must make stops were WSJ (It’s the only place to get a Stipple) and gives away the best t-shirts ever!Conference content-sponsor giveaway

How to maximize your conference content

Use conference content as part of your content marketing offering before, during and after the big event. This applies to your content creation, optimization and amplification

Regardless of whether you’re an attendee, presenter, or sponsor/exhibitor.

Remember conferences are live content. They attract media. This can help your content distribution and amplification.

Conference content guide

1. Pre-conference content

Experienced conference marketers start their planning for the next conference when they finish creating the current year’s event.

Okay, this may be a bit of an exaggeration. 

But the truth is that they start it early. For example, the smart folks at Content Marketing Institute start planning their Content Marketing World content in January. They’ve got a series of TwitterChats, Interviews and other content going.

Actionable Content Marketing Conference Tips:

  • Be a presenter, a speaker, or trainer. This positions you as a thought leader. Even better, your name tag lets everyone know this fact. Selection is competitive and requires work to create unique, useful information for attendees. Of course, you must deliver on your promise!
  • Create epic content to encourage attendance. This major content effort generally includes influencers and others. Lee Odden is the master of the pre-conference e-book. (BTW–Odden and his team won awards for their ebooks!)

    Epic Conference content

    Epic Content for Content Marketing World 2015- Includes Heidi Cohen

  • Interviews. Use the conference as a hook to talk to thought leaders and others. Last year, I did a set of group interviews to promote Content Marketing World.

    Blog Community People

    Blog Community People – Interview Option

  • Make your presentation stellar. Structure your talk so that attendees can follow it and be conscious of your time. Include useful examples. Make your images visible. Remember attendees will photograph and share your slides.
  • Give people a reason to keep your stuff. Make it special such as signed books.

2. Create conference content in (near) real time

Take a page from the Ann Handley School of Content Marketing. (Yes I made that up. But Handley wrote the first book on the topic, Content Rules (with C.C. Chapman), has newspaper chops and runs MarketingProfs!)

Be the on-scene reporter.  Add facts, commentary and more.

Actionable Content Marketing Conference Tips:

  • Articles. Can be composed during and/or after the conference focusing on key developments or points from the event. They can be as mundane as summaries or quote roundups. Jay Acunzo stuffed part of his Content Marketing World 2015 presentation into a blog postContent Marketing World 2015 Article by Jay Acunzo
  • Liveblogging. By modern day scribes who offer sufficient content to give readers an understanding of the session. Structure the content to improve understanding and add commentary. Check  TopRank Marketing’s liveblogging.Liveblogging by Top Rank Marketing -conference content
  • Photos and videos. Snap these everywhere, whether it’s a smartphone, professional camera or booth. Post them to social media ASAP using appropriate Twitter handles and hashtags. Conference content -Twitter Photo
  • Live interviews (Audio or video). Of course, you record the interview and post it when you have space in your editorial calendar. MarketingProfs’ Kerry O’Shea Gorgone gives you good interview guidelines.
  • Presentations. Depending on the conference and its speaker agreements, you can publish your presentation directly onto LinkedIn Slideshare. Add commentary to give the slides context for non-attendees.  (Here’s Michael Brenner’s presentation.)
  • Product reviews. Test out the latest products and provide your readers with your feedback.
  • Social media content. Take advantage of the conference hashtag to live tweet or share content. Everyone can do this. (Here are some Twitter Conference Tips.)
  • Visual notetaking. Involves an artist who works during a session extracting key information and transforming it into images.

    Conference content - visual notetaking

    Visual Notetaking at Matthew Patrick’s Online Video Session At Content Marketing World

3. Create post-conference content

Post-conference content consists of 2 key factors: timeliness and relevance.

To maximize content distribution, get your post-conference content out as soon as possible. The goal is to take advantage of an interested audience. This is particularly important for shorter content like social media, blog posts and other articles.

Alternatively, for more evergreen content such as interviews, schedule your content into your editorial calendar.

The most memorable of long form, long lasting content is  Andy Crestodina’s 2013 Content Marketing World Yearbook. This took him many, many hours to create. User Generated Content Curation FormatConference content-co-creation

While at SAP, Micheal Brenner took the information requested for an executive presentation and turned it into a stand-alone LinkedIn Slideshare called 99 Facts on the Future of Business. To-date, it has 400,000+ views and it’s been updated. Since then, the team updated the presentation.

Ask yourself:

  • What else can I do with my presentation and conference content?
  • How will I keep it up-to-date and relevant?

Actionable Content Marketing Conference Tips:

  • Create short-term content. Highlight the major session takeaways. These can be text, video, or audio. Don’t overlook platforms like LinkedIn Publishing.
  • Curate social media and other content formats. Spotlight other people’s conference content and add your commentary.
  • Plan for reformated and reused content. Take a page from the Jay Baer Playbook. Jay published his Content Marketing talk on his blog.
  • Extend the life of your content by updating it.

To maximize your ability to create stellar conference content marketing, plan for success.

Make a plan. Schedule the key events,  activities and meetings so you don’t forget.

Keep a record of your notes and content ideas for future use.

Don’t assume that you’re going to remember that great article idea.

Despite your best intentions, you’ll probably forget it as soon as you leave your seat.

What’s your best content marketing conference tip and why?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.


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Photo Credit:
Content Marketing World photos via Heidi Cohen
Luggage photo:
Note: this post was originally published on September 18, 2015.

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