How to Make the Most of Your Event, After the Event
Picture this. You had 3,000 of your best customers, closest partners, and top prospects seated in one place. They sat anxiously, hopeful, with attention there for the taking. You spent half a year and a million or more dollars to wow them with some compelling opening—a riveting speech, a hilarious video, just something different and awesome to set the pace for a meaningful weekend. Yet, here is the last message echoing through their minds before tuning out and catching some sleep on the flight home:
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to direct your attention to the front, as we will be demonstrating the safety features of this aircraft."
Is this what you want them to remember after all that? If you haven’t thought about how to extend the value of event content beyond your event, then it may as well be. They likely forgot about you the moment they left the ballroom, and have since shifted their focus toward frustratingly unreliable Wi-Fi and in-flight cocktail service. And it’s a downhill slope from there. Can you blame them?
Next time can be different. Your event can be more effective when you stop thinking about it as a moment in time, and start thinking about it as just one of many related and ongoing messaging channels.
There are four different approaches to extending content beyond the event. You can invest in just one, or spend the time to execute on a combination of the following. Here is how to make your messages stick long after the event is over.
Four Ways to Extend the Value of Event Content
1. Content Libraries
A content library is an online portal to your event content. It gives you reason to communicate with attendees, non-attendees, and prospects, alike. At the very least, livestream your event.
There was a time when marketers worried that broadcasting the Super Bowl would cannibalize live attendance. Super Bowl XLIX had 80,000 people in attendance, and 114.5 million remote viewers. It looks like some marketers were wrong.
There’s no excuse not to livestream with free tools like Periscope and Meerkat out there. In fact, at Pegasystems’ annual conference, PegaWORLD15, Cramer provided a professional livestream (embedded into Pega.com and banners around the web), but there was also a mounted iPad Periscoping from the front stage.
Because you’re filming anyway, segment and repost the sessions. A timely post-event email lets attendees know they can check out sessions they missed or relive the ones they loved. You could also send the best thought leadership sessions to your top prospects as a conversation touch-point.
It’s simple—your meeting has a wealth of interesting content. Drive engagement with it.
2. Content Packages
Editorialize your event. Content packages can be created in conjunction with content libraries or on their own.
Many of your attendees will be required to share with their teams or companies what they learned at the event. Bite-sized, easy-to-share content packages give you control over how the story of your event is told.
Offer up PowerPoint slides from keynote sessions as downloadable assets, a top 10 list of event themes and lessons learned, or an infographic of event statistics. The goal here is to make it sharable. This is the type of stuff that gets picked up by industry news sites and influential bloggers.
Beware: Side effects include better SEO rankings, press, greater brand loyalty, and event awareness.
3. Supplemental Content
Go beyond just re-packaging the live conference material, and offer supplemental content, creating new but related information that attendees and their networks will desire.
Supplemental content can help support the main event by providing a deeper and longer engagement for attendees, or it can exist as stand-alone content used for marketing to future attendees. Additional time, expense, and resources are required to pull this off, but you might as well make the most of your investment in the event.
You may have customers, sales leaders, industry luminaries, and internal executives all gathered in the same location. Don’t let the opportunity to capitalize on this slip by.
Imagine a series of 30-minute thought-provoking interviews between your CEO and keynote speakers, released as an episodic webinar post-event. Think: customer testimonials, product launch teasers, and more.
A little planning goes a long way.
4. Build a Community
Building a community means transforming your audience into an engaged and loyal fan base who will promote your brand and content.
Take a look across the room. Scan the sea of faces there in support of your brand. How can you digitize this crowd, creating an engaged, social, loyal community?
Software providers such as Jive and Lithium offer many out-of-the-box solutions, providing platforms with commenting and rating features, forums, user profiles, polling, and social integration. Services such as Conferize combine that with a registration site to keep your event community together through the years.
Maintaining your own community platform does require a substantial commitment of time and resources to plan content, conversations, and activities for the community. Be sure to join in, responding quickly to praise or address concerns. Your community wants to know that your brand is listening and appreciative of their time.
While this could be your greatest investment beyond the event, it could also be your greatest asset. The goal is to convert active fans into brand ambassadors who will promote your content.
Are you ready to get more out of your event?
Making the most of your event investment means re-thinking the moment. Use it as your launching platform for long-lasting audience engagement.
By planning ahead, understanding your content’s value in other contexts, and packaging your content to meet the needs of your marketing and your audience, the value and reach of your content will extend well beyond the confines of the ballroom.
For more on the subject, download the free whitepaper, “A Guide to Event Content That Lasts” at cramer.com/make-it-happen
*Post originally published in the July 2015 It List edition of Event Marketer Magazine
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