Next week I’ll join my counterparts from around the world in Berlin to talk about live event experiences. It’s an annual gathering where we can share ideas, successes, and challenges, and learn to better understand each other’s businesses. For many, creating pre-event content to build excitement (and maybe a bit of FOMO [fear of missing out]) for our events is a hot topic.
Regardless of your industry or region of the world, pre-event content is an important element for delivering on an amazing event experience.
While marketing campaigns are often centered on content, event marketers often think about content too late. That’s precisely what UBM found in its Content Connects research among technology brands. Laura Forer of MarketingProfs, UBM’s research collaborator, notes that pre-event content shouldn’t be an afterthought: “Ninety-six percent of attendees look for information prior to attending an event, and 90% continue that search post-event. Effective content before, during, and after an event is vital to the overall experience.”
I’ll admit, I’m a bit jealous of the Diner en Blanc events – chic gatherings in beautiful places around the world that rely mostly on secrecy and word of mouth. They don’t have to spend time and budget on creative content – other than a tantalizing invitation – to draw thousands of people to eat, drink, be merry, and wear white.
The rest of us, though, need to be more vocal and consistent to make our events pop with high quality and engaging pre-event content (which, in some cases, can be used on-site and post-event.)
I share five ideas for pre-event content that you are welcome to steal as you plan your next event. And I’d love to hear about some of your favorites in the comments.
1. Create educational and fun videos to define event topics or goals
Short videos can give prospects and attendees a sneak peek at event topics and speakers. The CMI team posted videos before the 2017 Intelligent Content Conference (spoiler alert: we’ll do it again for ICC 2018 because they were effective). The videos were educational, but producer (and CMI Chief Strategy Advisor) Robert Rose also kept them lighthearted and funny to make them worth the three to five minutes people would spend watching them.
They were designed to help marketers better understand tools and innovations behind content strategy – the topic of the conference. Subjects like augmented reality, content audits, localization, and journey mapping were part of the video series that were shared on the ICC event blog, promoted in emails, and posted to YouTube in the months leading up to the event. In each case, the ICC presenter on the topic was mentioned and additional related content was offered.
Watch Robert talk about journey mapping – and sing a Journey song. All I can say is don’t stop believing pre-event videos will work. These videos really resonated with the audience and didn’t require extensive time or budget.
2. Send a clever piece of (snail) mail
Yeah, you read that right – send the kind of stuff that shows up in a physical mailbox. In a time when digital is the primary distribution channel, a piece of mail can be a welcome surprise. Just ask Ann Handley, chief content officer at MarketingProfs. “The key is to send something fun, cool, AND that also encourages sharing on social platforms,” she says.
One of MarketingProfs’ most brilliant examples of pre-event snail mail was the creation of the “Flat Handley,” (a take-off on the popular and long-lasting Flat…