Building anticipation is a key event success factor. Learn the ins and outs of pre-event content marketing to create sustainable momentum behind your event.
All professional planners know that events are a little bit like Christmas. The day itself has the most attention, but the lead up to the event also plays an important role. Just as kids get excited about decorating the tree and leaving a carrot out for Rudolph, event attendees get excited about what’s in store for them. As planners, we can help to build up this excitement through strategic pre-event content marketing which is key to the formula for event success.
Unfortunately, there’s a problem. Some planners are continuing to use outdated marketing methods in an attempt to generate pre-event hype. Using techniques that are no longer relevant to today’s marketing environment aren’t just pointless, they could actually be detrimental to your event strategy.
Consider that, although both live event attendance and virtual event attendance figures are expected to grow in the future, only 52% of professional planners actually believe this will happen. In fact, 30% of planners believe that figures will remain static for virtual and live attendances respectively, with 5% and 18% predicting a drop in attendance rates, according to the MPI Meetings Outlook Report. This tells us that great pre-event marketing could be more important than ever before.
Product marketing and event marketing are very different:
- Product Marketing is about generating a large number of visitors, and then tailoring the on-site experience to engage specifically with demographics who are statistically most likely to convert.
- Event Marketing is backwards. Engagement comes first as a way of getting people through the door, and it’s on the day that planners can work on resonating with large numbers of visitors.
In a nutshell, the problem that’s occurring is that we have a forecasted lull in attendance figures, while at the same time event planners are largely failing to make the necessary changes to better promote events to the right people, at the right time.
Pre-Event Marketing Through Content
Content marketing is widely considered to be one of the most effective forms of digital marketing today. It includes a wide range of content such as articles, white papers, blog posts, infographics, videos, interviews and so on. Content marketing can play a significant role in generating pre-event hype, but only if it is utilized in the most effective ways. And don’t be fooled, creating great content that will stand out is not that easy.
A common issue with contemporary pre-event content marketing is that it’s still a concept that is very much in its early stages, and many marketers are still clinging onto older ideas which don’t always work. Here are some examples of what NOT to do, demonstrating how bad content marketing can be risky business:
- Scarcity Content Marketing
In terms of events, scarcity can actually work very well. In fact, ‘flash sales’ reportedly generate more than twice the number of transactions as other deals. However, today’s consumers are getting wise to the trick, and any false claims of scarcity in content can be seen as manipulative. Thus, make sure to be honest in your content strategy and resist from seeking short-term wins at the risk of suffering long-term damage to your event brand by lying to potential attendees.
- False Content Marketing
Sharing any consumer-created pre-event content, such as social media posts by prospective attendees, or perhaps content from attendees of previous years’ events, is a great way to promote the event and generate interest. But be warned: false hype is more recognizable than you may think. In today’s digital age, not only are we looking at the quality of online reviews, we’re also looking at quantity. Consumers read 7 reviews on average before taking action, which means a single glowing piece just isn’t enough. So make sure that each review is honest and does in fact originate from an attendee.
Great Content Marketing Ideas
The good news is that there are some very effective ways to generate pre-event hype using content marketing which can help to engage audiences, improve attendance, and increase event awareness. Here are 4 great ways to strengthen your pre-event content marketing strategy to get your event off to a great start:
- Choose the Right Platform
Content is only as good as it’s platform. After all, even the most incredible piece of content will fail to have the desired impact if it is not seen by the right people, at the right time. That’s why it’s essential to consider the right publishing platform. What’s ‘right’ will depend on your target audience. For example, while around 90% of internet users in Mexico visit YouTube each month, only 40% use Google+. Similarly, while 37% of 16-24 year-olds use Instagram, it is only used by a very small number of 55-64 year-olds.
- Tease Your Audience
Teaser campaigns can be hugely effective, releasing short snippets of content across an elongated period, maintaining interest for longer. The idea is to generate just enough excitement and engagement to keep them coming back for more. A great example of this would be the ‘Prongles’ campaign that was put together by Cards Against Humanity. They invented a limited product line of potato chips, deliberately ripping off the well-known Pringles brand. This obviously piqued the interest of consumers, leading them to the Prongles website and having them figure out that this was a Cards Against Humanity prank all along.
- Give a Sneak Peak
Getting creative with your content is a great way to generate interest. Try to think outside the box, moving away from basic event details to include more engaging content, such as blog posts written by your speakers, or interviews with exhibitioners. This provides a unique insight into what attendees can expect, and makes use of visual marketing which can be hugely beneficial It has been reported that just 10% of people who hear information can recall it, compared to 65% of people who see this information. The example below shows how the Unbounce conference emailed potential attendees with a video from one of their keynote speakers, Michael Agaard, explaining what he will be covering during his presentation.
- Long Tail Optimization
Research suggests that we are generally more interested in local news and information than we are about news at a national or international level, with 72% of American adults feeling strongly attached to their local news sources. While national awareness of an event can be beneficial to an extent, local marketing may have a greater impact. Try to include long tail keywords in your content relating to location, ensuring your content is seen by those most likely to be excited based on geographical venue.
A Time For Change
At a time when content marketing is considered to be one of the most effective and efficient ways of reaching target audiences, event planners should now be reconsidering their existing approaches to generating pre-event hype. Planners should be thinking of ways to utilize content creation and content sharing to boost event awareness while simultaneously drumming up excitement to improve attendance figures.
Passionate about digital marketing, entrepreneurship, growth and travel, Senko is also a co-founder of Diversis Digital and Point Visible content marketing agency. He loves testing new ideas and projects with unclear specifications and fighting pressure with a chill-out attitude.