We define content marketing as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, drive profitable customer action’.
Marketing practices are changing. Instead of relentlessly promoting products or services, many marketers now focus on providing useful, relevant content to their prospects and customers, hoping that they will read it, share it, and come back for more. The intention is that good content will not only drive sales but also increase customer loyalty.
However, the events industry is somewhat behind in pushing relevant content to promote their events. One recent survey found that 85% of event professionals still relied solely on email marketing to promote their events, and only 44% were using content marketing. Here we explore how the events industry can embrace content marketing as a focal point of their strategy.
What is Content Marketing?
The key word in the definition above is ‘valuable.’ It alters the description from any other form of marketing or advertising to content marketing. People want to consume interesting content, unlike traditional forms of marketing, which they may actively avoid. It is a long-term strategy that is focused on building strong relationships with the target audience. Content marketing can take the form of:
- Social media posts
To develop a content marketing strategy for an events business, the following points need to be considered:
- What are the goals? – Increased website traffic? Generating leads? The goals need to be clearly defined to tailor the content accordingly with the appropriate call to action. In addition, targets need to be set to measure the success of each action.
- Who is the target audience? – To create interesting content, the focus needs to be on who will be consuming it. Younger audiences will be approached differently from older ones, so it is important to understand the demographics.
- What are their issues? – The content needs to solve their problems to be useful. This should really be the focus when considering content topics.
- What is the USP? – What makes the offering unique? How is it different from what the competition is offering?
- What form of content will be used? – What form of content is most likely to be consumed by the target audience? If it’s a younger audience, video and social media would be the best way to target them. Older audiences may react better to blog posts.
- What channels are the most appropriate? – Website? Social media? This will be affected by the type of content produced. Blogs will go on a website. Videos can be used on both a website and uploaded to YouTube, Facebook, and Tiktok.
- How often will new content be published? – Fresh content helps to rank in search engines and will keep the audience coming back for more.
Why is Content Marketing Important for the Events Industry?
The events industry needs to do more to embrace content marketing to foster loyalty and increase event attendance. Festivals and concerts already carry out a fair amount of content marketing, particularly on social media. Camp Bestival, which takes place at the end of July, is sending out daily tweets on Twitter with a countdown and drip-feeding information about the line-up. This will foster a sense of anticipation in those who already have tickets and encourage others to purchase. They also update their website regularly with more information about the event. This will encourage visitors to return time and time again to find out more. Producing regular, useful content will encourage a sense of loyalty in visitors who may return to the festival year after year.
So why don’t business events adopt the same approach? Many don’t even include the event line-up on their websites. CHSI Stitches is the craft industry’s biggest event in September but still doesn’t have any information on their website regarding speakers or workshops being held. The Specialty and Fine Food Fair is another big event coming up and once again does not have any information on their website about the event line-up.
These events are missing a trick. Providing regular information on social media and updating their websites would encourage more visitors and exhibitors to attend. It would provide useful information for those interested in the event and foster loyalty amongst attendees. Showing more about the events could also create a FOMO – fear of missing out – around the event. This is likely to drive ticket sales considerably.
Event contractors are beginning to see the value of a good content marketing strategy. Alan Jenkins of Bournemouth-based exhibition contractor, Quadrant2Design said ‘We have been implementing a content strategy for some time now. Having regular blog posts on our website and getting articles published has really increased our SEO ranking and driven more traffic to our website. This, in turn, has led to more leads through the website, which is great. The visitors like the useful information we provide, making them more likely to trust us and want to buy from us’.
What the event industry could do
Here we outline how a content marketing strategy could work for an event.
Before the Event
Content creation should begin as soon as the event dates are announced. If left until the last-minute events may not achieve the outcome they want, Google will not have a chance to index blog posts, so they will not rank in search engines. It is also important to generate a sense of anticipation and excitement leading up to the event, which will take time.
When the event is announced, releasing a series of podcasts will inform people about the event. Podcast listenership was growing year by year, with an estimated 15.6 million listeners in 2020. It is a great medium to reach audiences and has become one of the most popular forms of audio entertainment. The podcasts should be embedded in a website and promoted on iTunes and Spotify.
An event pathway
A good way to build momentum in the weeks and months before the event is to have weekly content releasing more information each time. This will give attendees and potential attendees a regular glimpse of what is to come. This can be in social media posts, blog posts, videos, or maybe a combination of the three. It’s important to target social media with different approaches – on Facebook, you can create an event page that can be updated regularly with text, photos, and videos. Instagram and Pinterest are more about photos, and events marketers can upload videos to YouTube and Tiktok.
As well as information about the event lineup, this content could also include advice for attendees. Maybe even interviews with previous exhibitors.
Videos of previous events
To generate interest and a FOMO feeling amongst potential attendees’ videos of past events could be shared on Youtube and embedded in the website. This will give visitors a glimpse of what the event is like and encourage them to buy tickets. Share the videos on Facebook and Instagram too.
In the final weeks before the event, Twitter can be used to really drum up excitement and interest. Daily tweets will remind people of the date and what’s in store. Information can be drip-fed to increase anticipation. Create a hashtag that exhibitors and attendees can use leading up and during the event.
During the Event
Once the event arrives, it’s important to create content that event attendees can use to market future events.
Video key moments
Share videos of the atmosphere in the hall, the speakers, and the workshops. Film any exciting product demos. Produce short and snappy videos that people can share.
Encourage attendees to share
Consider having a photo booth for attendees to encourage them to take photos and share them on social media. Publicize the event hashtag to promote photo sharing further.
Live streaming is an increasingly popular form of content sharing. Event marketers can use it to share key presentations or product demonstrations. Exhibitors can also be encouraged to live stream their attendance. It will give viewers a taste of the atmosphere at the event.
After the event
Once the event is over, it’s important to maintain some momentum. The weeks after the event are a good time to publish content about the event while still fresh in attendees’ and exhibitors’ minds.
Write more blog posts
Writing blog posts about the event is a good way to get more content out there. Summarise the event, the speakers, the product launches, and the workshops.
Partner marketing opportunities
There may be opportunities to create content in partnership with key sponsors or exhibitors of the event. These may take the form of joint webinars, eBooks, or workshops. This will enable the production of content in between events.
These are just a few key ways event organizers can introduce a content marketing strategy into their event planning. Implementing a strategy will increase ticket sales, improve loyalty towards the event and bolster its brand image.