If you want people to attend your events, you have to give them something worth giving up their valuable time for. So, ensuring the right content is crucial when it comes to shaping your agenda and finding the right messages to attract and influence your audience. But creating an event content strategy takes time. You have to think about themes, identify what type of content you need, generate this collateral, and promote it to your audience.
Luckily, help is at hand, and, at Apex, we’ve been helping clients to develop effective event content strategies for over 30 years.
Here are some of our top tips to help you crack the content code at your next event; making sure you deliver those all-important communications in a way that informs, impresses, entertains, and motivates.
1. Understand your audience
We know we say this all the time, but insight into who you want to attend is vital to pulling off a successful event. How can you reach out to potential attendees in new and absorbing ways if you don’t know who they are and what will appeal to them?
To help you to do this, consider creating ‘buyer personas’. A tried and tested marketing approach, personas are fictional representations of your various ideal attendees. These can help you to get under the skin of your visitors by giving you a deeper insight into their challenges, wants and needs. Once you understand who you are talking to, you can then craft an event that appeals directly to them.
2. Understand what you want to achieve
In addition to your audience, before you start creating any content you need to know what impact you want your event to have. What are your goals? What do you want attendees to take away from your event? How can you address their needs?
Whether you’re organising a conference, award show or roadshow, it pays to start with a strategy. Without establishing the purpose of your event, and setting defined outcomes upfront, there’s a real danger that attendance will be low and that any benefits will be short-term and easily lost.
3. Identify hot topics
The best way to attract attendees to your event is to identify subjects that are of real interest to them. One way to do this is to find existing content that they are already engaging with. You can do this by looking at industry media, listening to your sales team and other experts, and searching social media to find out what people are talking about.
To find out what questions your potential attendees are already asking, you could also reach out to your guest list to find out what topics resonate the most with them. If people are not talking about a subject, they probably won’t be interested in finding out more about it.
4. Identify what channels to use
An event doesn't last long, so it makes sense to share your content on those platforms that will drive the most engagement. For example, if you have a keynote speaker, make sure to make a copy of their notes available digitally to all attendees. You can also use Twitter to live-tweet speeches and awards. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Video can be a great tool when it comes to event content; helping you to increase the size of your audience by streaming live sessions. If revenue is an objective, you can also package recorded content and sell access to this throughout the year, and/or offer sponsorship opportunities for ad space in video content. Alternatively, footage from a previous event can be used as a marketing tool for future sessions, and you can use video clips to breathe life into your ongoing content such as e-newsletters and blog posts.
Data integration and marketing automation should also be an integral part of your content marketing strategy; helping you to maximise attendance, engagement, and leads before, during and after your events.
5. Find impressive speakers
If you're planning an event, hiring a professional speaker is a great idea. And, where maximum impact is needed, a celebrity can help to wow your guests and add kudos.
However, while big names are undoubtedly impressive, booking the wrong speaker - however famous - can be a costly mistake. The trick is to find a speaker that works for you. Find someone relevant to your audience. A celebrity will generate attention, but a controversial figure such as Piers Morgan isn’t ideal unless you know that your audience will love them. If you do secure a big name, exploit their star power. Use all means possible to promote their appearance, for example, ask whether your speaker can reach out and tap into their own network to attract a new pool of potential attendees.
You might not need a celebrity to facilitate your event, but you do need someone who understands what you are trying to achieve and who will work with you to convey the right messages. So, you should also consider non-celebrities that are more relevant to your target audience and your event. But be warned, you want to employ visionary speakers, not people who focus on sales pitches for their own businesses!
With an eye on your bottom line, Apex can provide you with guidance on the most appropriate presenters and hosts within your budget, and ensure that your guest speakers are both inspiring and topic experts.
6. Mix up the event format
People go to events for many reasons. But, most often they want to generate and strengthen relationships, learn something new, and discover a sense of purpose. At events, people desire solutions that go beyond conventional wisdom. They want to come away with new ideas and think about things differently.
So as well as keynote speeches, think about how else you can get people to share innovative thinking and upcoming trends. For example, as part of your content strategy, you could run a range of more intimate session formats such as simulations, workshops, teambuilding, training, etc. And always make sure you allow plenty of time for discussion and networking.
7. Create shareable content
In our connected online world, merely going out for a few drinks can be turned into an ‘event’; with people using social media to capture the moment and share it with thousands of followers. So, even someone sitting at home in front of the telly can now feel part of an event, regardless of where they are, and when it is happening.
As part of your content strategy, look at what you can do to take your event beyond the conference hall. For example, create (and use) an official hashtag to promote your event and encourage others to tag their content. Share images taken by yourself and others to amplify your message. Likewise, tag keynote speakers, attendees, and organisations at your event into any social media posts.
Photo stations are becoming increasingly popular at all kinds of events. As well as delivering that much sought-after fun factor, they also act as a conversation starter for attendees who don’t know each another. You can also use these photos to boost your brand awareness by posting them across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
8. Create immersive content
Today’s event planners are looking for ways to construct compelling, multi-sensory experiences that evoke genuine emotions from attendees. And, one way they are doing this is by using the power of VR and AR.
Today’s event attendees are looking for experiences that are experimental and/or uniquely memorable. So, where possible, look at how you can bring VR/AR into your event content marketing strategy. For example, at a recent food and drink festival in Singapore, visitors were provided with a VR headset, earphones, and a dram of whisky before being transported to Scotland for a multi-sensory tour of the Glen Ord distillery.
At Apex, we understand the immense effort that goes into preparing for events, and we work with you to help reach your goals and achieve a truly positive experience. If you’d like to find out more about how we can make your events a success, contact us today to find out more, or give us a call today on + 44 (0)1625 429370 to discuss your requirements in more depth.