Nearly 80% of marketers dealing with B2B content marketing use events and consider them the most effective tactic – this indication has been remained the same for years in the Content Marketing Institute research “B2B Content Marketing: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends”.
Indeed, events are your prime time – valuable hours spent face to face with the listener, entirely focused on your message, and an opportunity to get precious feedback. But it is also a valuable time and energy of the participant, who leaves their regular activities to see what you’ve got to offer. You need to use the time well. Actually, it would be difficult not to use it well – the possibilities are endless, it is a marketing content treasure house. And I mean treasures that last a whole year round.
But let’s start at the beginning…
The starting point when organizing a company event is the conversation with the customer: knowing their needs and the goals of the undertaking. We need to decide about the target group, the goals and what we want to achieve so that we can come up with an idea, develop the scenario for promotion, the course of the event and its content. According to John Nawn, author of ThePowerOfMeeting.com, contemporary event participants (such as a training event) expect the meeting to help them use their own resources, such as:
- self-reliance – which means they should be involved in the learning process,
- knowledge – so you should use their experience,
- sense of direction – you need to define clear goals and results of the meeting,
- sense that the meeting is useful and practical – the knowledge must be applicable at work,
- internal motivation: combine coaching with their fields of interest.
That enormity of work is also connected with the form of the event. Depending on the needs, the form can be varied: did you know there are up to 20 different techniques and formats for meetings/conferences (e.g. buzz group, body voting, case study, and others), which can also be mixed with one another? A workshop, a training session, a fair, a conference, gamification… there are plenty of ways not just to teach, but to provide entertainment and integration as well.
The goal and format of the substantial part will let you decide who would be worth to engage in the project. We are looking for someone with the right potential, who can meet our expectations and has the right competences. As a guest you don’t necessarily have to invite someone well-known (although celebrities naturally add some attractiveness points), but you can simply chose someone who is an expert in the domain (e.g. we engaged a Japanese chef to run a sushi workshop for one of our customers). The role of that person may not (and should not) be limited to delivering a speech – the second part of the meeting should involve the participants and allow them to use new knowledge in practice.
One such person that we collaborate with is, for instance, Major Rocco A. Spencer – US army officer, who spends his retirement coaching businessmen and employees in leadership, motivation and company mission. Sometimes the best speaker is one without a uniform, we’ve invited to our events Prof. Jerzy Bralczyk, weather presented Jarosław Kret, singer Krzysztof Grabowski and actor Marek Kondrat.
The script and the rank of the event need to be reflected by the conditions it is run in. It’s hard to meet the goal of an event without enough time or the right venue and equipment. We are an agency, and as our customers’ agents we love using our organizing and networking skills to take care of the event’s logistics.
Event – alive all year round
This is why we focus on an event early enough, and it’s not only about preparing the meeting itself. Do you remember “The Little Prince”? Metaphorically speaking, the life of an event cycle is like the drawing of a snake which has swallowed an elephant. It is important to grade the tension, to cumulate it and mute it. The rollover is obviously on the day of the event, but start informing about the whole enterprise long before, sending e-mails, arousing interest through promotion on various channels. We can quote Joe Pulizzi here, who said: The biggest mistake I can see among those who organize business events is that they leave the promotion for the last few months prior to the event. With the Content Marketing World we begin the marketing of the next event as soon as we’re done with the previous one. You will work out better with the organizing of the whole event if you convince your personnel that marketing actually never start or stops, it is constantly on.”
The Internet is indispensable in that cycle. Events are a great opportunity to combine an online content marketing strategy with real, direct interaction, e.g. on Twitter. If your budget is big enough, it is worth thinking not only about the website of the event, posts on a blog and communication through social media, but also about a customized mobile application. In a research by Localist 78% of the respondents said they would be interested in access to event information via a mobile phone, e.g. through an integrated calendar application.
Another crucial issue many event organizers tend to forget about is to use the energy and – again using a metaphor – the post-event wave, which should be quenched step by step and not with the final message of the presentation (which often turns out of little use). Employees go back to their tasks and forget about the event, which is of no use to themselves nor to the event organizer. The data and contacts collected could be used for a long time when processed in the right way: additional materials not used at the event for further reading (e.g. research reports), information from the meeting prepared for later individual use, an activity plan, a conference video, contacting the speakers/participants and organizing additional meetings/consultancy. Joe Pulizzi advises to use the speakers themselves for post-conference materials: “Talk to them after the event and let them share their impressions (which you can also use as references), then ask them about the key topic and a few examples from their presentation, which you can use in posts with the event hashtag.