All this talk about content marketing makes us realize the critical role event marketing plays in the customer engagement equation. In our post ‘No content…no story’ we positioned content as the most important part of an event. One of the biggest hurdles we need to overcome in developing a meaningful event program is creating and managing content. Here are 5 tips for creating and managing content for events:
1. Build a Program
Understand your client’s vision and message. In fact, you should understand it better than most employees. I always maintain we need to be in our client’s heads. Consider this the brainstorming stage of writing a story. What theme will tell your client’s story and enhance their message? What form of media will you employ; what types of activities. How will you divide your event into sessions and breakouts? Who gets main stage? Does the agenda program tell a story that flows? How much time are speakers given in the agenda? We’ve seen Ted Talks play the ruthless game of forcing presenters to tell their story in 18 minutes. Most clients are unaware of how long even five minutes can feel to their audience. Determine presenters and zero in on their content. Let’s put it this way, you don’t want presenters all saying the same thing, you want them to complement one another. Too often, we’ve seen executives submit presentations with repetitive slides. As you build your program, think about the purpose of each and every session and activity in your agenda – it all needs to tie back to key messages. Agenda building is a key step in building the right content.
2. The Importance of Briefs
Make planning meetings count. We know executives’ time is valuable and meeting time scarce. Make sure the time you spend with executives is meaningful. Initial briefing meetings are critical in which you receive clear direction on objectives and share ideas, it’s your time to go away and prepare a program that is unique and creative, and demonstrates the executive’s goals clearly and concisely. This is where you listen. Often it’s one comment an executive makes – less about the business, but more personal insights – that provides the nugget of inspiration we need to build their story. At a higher level, it may be the client who wants employees to walk away thinking ‘I work for the best company in the world’; or there are three core objectives all employees need to execute on this year; or maybe they want to offer the best VIP experience ever to select customers. Listening will allow you to come up with a program that separates your client from the competition in the customers’ eyes. Whatever the direction, your briefings with executives are critical.
If there are multiple executives presenting, meet with each one of them. This will avoid that overlap in content and make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to objectives.
Be prepared. If executives take their speaking role seriously, they will agree to an initial briefing meeting as well as a dry run or a final briefing prior to a rehearsal – and it’s a critical part of success. It’s where you can ensure there is no overlap in content, and the message is consistent.
3. Make it Original
We’ve all heard the term death by powerpoint. This is where your production knowledge along with understanding of a client’s goals comes into play. It’s where the inclusion of speakers, entertainment and video segments will come together to augment the story. It’s the difference between engaging your audience and, well…boring them to tears. A great event program takes the audience on a journey, it has ebbs and flows and ‘aha’ moments. For one client’s annual meeting, we know their goal is always the same: share results from the previous year, outline plans for the coming year and present awards. It’s up to us to find a way to tell that story in a unique way. Perhaps there was a product launch, and all of our content will be designed with the product’s look and feel. Maybe there’s a change in direction and company philosophy or a change management program underway – this might present an opportunity for humor. That’s our job – to pull out those subtleties so we can say it in a memorable way and ‘make it original.’
4. Generate a Buzz
You want the audience talking about your event even before they arrive. Start disseminating your content. Give them a sneak preview of what they’re in for. It’s where the investment you’ve made in bringing in an influential guest speaker or having your CEO or President speak, will impress your audience. Perhaps you can point to content from your guest speaker.
Using social media can help track what customers or employees are saying, and what’s exciting them the most about your event. Use the feedback you receive online as the basis for content planning and session building.
Giveaways can go a long way in generating excitement, particularly for conferences where you want customers to feel that you’re really paying attention to them. It’s the little things that can make a huge difference.
You should be actively carrying on the conversation during your event and encouraging attendees to do so as well. What better promotion for your company than to have customers and employees actively posting their comments and generating a buzz?
5. Follow Up
While we all love that feeling when the doors close on the last guest and the event is done, we also know we can’t call it a day…yet. After the event, event planners need to know whether the message is resonating with attendees.
It’s time to aggregate your social media and survey feedback. It’s a great time to reach out to attendees and point them to content from the event. You should have been planning a closed loop program – tie it back to compelling offers, whitepapers, customer stories (what better advocate for your product then your customers?) and event content.
Video content is an effective way to connect with customers following an event – consider these stats:
- 54% visited vendor website or contact vendor for more information
- 74% research product within three months after seeing a video
- 46% purchased product
It’s a messy world without effective content management. Creating unique and meaningful content is crucial to an event’s success.
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