Building Excitement with Pre-Event Content Marketing
In 1981, Tom Petty released the song, “The Waiting” with its famous refrain, “the waiting is the hardest part.” It turns out he was only partially correct.
When it comes to live events, the waiting is part of the fun. (A statement that might not work as well as a chorus but is, nonetheless, true.)
Research from Cornell University found that people who were anticipating buying experiential purchases, such as concert tickets or ski passes, had higher levels of happiness than those who were prepared to spend money on things.
The study also interviewed people standing in long lines and found that those who were waiting for an experience were happier than those waiting to purchase a material good. The study’s authors surmised this is because an experience is enjoyed communally, so the wait is also perceived as a communal event. A purchase is something people want for themselves, which adds some anxiety to the wait.
“You sometimes hear stories about people rioting, smashing windows, pepper-spraying one another, or otherwise treating others badly when they have to wait,” Amit Kumar, co-author of the study, said to the Cornell Chronicle. “Our work shows that this kind of behavior is much more likely in instances where people are waiting to acquire a possession than when they’re waiting for tickets to a performance or to taste the offerings at their city’s newest food truck.”
The anticipation for an event is part of the fun. With the right content delivered at the right time, you can build the anticipation for your event even higher.
Engage with Your Audience
Some of the best content marketing is created through conversations. That means you need to reach out to your attendees and get them excited about your upcoming event by asking questions about what they would like to see.
Find your target crowd by following your event hashtag. That should lead directly to your audience. You can also search terms associated with your event’s name and theme.
Then, reach out through social media with polls and surveys that solicit feedback from attendees. Or you could be even more straightforward and ask directly about their desires and goals for the event. Be sure to respond to every reply – that’s how you create a conversation. You could also schedule Q&A sessions tied to the event.
Regardless of the approach you take, remember that the focus needs to be on the attendees. While the topic is your event, the goal is to make it better for each attendee. If your outreach appears to be salesy or focused on marketing, the replies you receive will be less than helpful.
Display Video Content
Posting videos on all your social media platforms can significantly extend the reach of your event. Nothing encourages sharing like good video content. However, the key is that it must be good.
The videos need to entertain while delivering value. And they must be short. No one has time for your five-minute video: three minutes, tops.
As for the content, it can be anything your audience will find engaging. Interviews with planners, clips of speakers, highlights from previous events, and more are all possibilities.
Also, you don’t need an elaborate production crew (and the accompanying budget that requires). The camera on your phone is perfectly fine. Everyone on social media is familiar with and comfortable viewing shaky phone footage.
Offer a Look Behind the Curtain
Providing a peek behind the scenes is another great way you can utilize video. Take attendees on a tour of the main stage, let them watch as keynote presentations are perfected, or provide time-lapse footage as the show floor comes together or of the construction of experiential activations.
This candid content makes attendees feel a greater connection to your event since they were able to watch as it developed. There is also a feeling of insider access, like you have let them in on a secret.
Share Attendee-Created Content
Creating content about your event is a fantastic way to engage your crowd; however, when somebody who is planning to attend – or has attended past events – does it, it carries even more weight. Every piece of attendee-created content is like finding a four-leaf clover. Make the most of it by spreading this content far and wide.
You can even try to encourage attendees to create content by advertising your event’s hashtag and prompting attendees to use it when they post. Another idea is to run contests where the winner receives a benefit at the event, such as free branded apparel or a swag bag.
Be careful, though. Coerced content can read as false. When event content feels inauthentic, it comes across as desperate and can actually decrease someone’s anticipation.
Focus on Your Speakers and Presenters
You struggled to secure the best speakers who will provide engaging and educational content for your attendees. Your speakers have diligently prepared material that will inform and entertain their audience. Your speakers want to promote their upcoming activities, and you want to promote your upcoming speakers. You all benefit from combing your marketing efforts.
Help your speakers to create short videos that you both can share across your social media platforms. Help them secure interviews with local, national, and industry-related media. Encourage them to post and blog about the event as much as possible – the wider their reach, the more attention that your event will receive.
In return, plaster your speakers all over your marketing materials. Make sure they are featured prominently on your event’s website and in any printed materials. Your speakers will appreciate these efforts. Treat your speakers well, and they will return to future events and speak kindly of you to other potential speakers.
Draw Visitors to Your Site
Utilize your strengths as a content specialist to craft a series of blog posts that address the wants and needs of your audience. Promote these efforts on social media to turn your website into a resource for people seeking answers to industry-related questions.
You can also try to share this content on other industry-sites and invite industry influencers to contribute. Perhaps presenters and keynote speakers at your event will provide some posts, as well. Once you encourage those in the industry to visit your site habitually, it will be easier to promote your events – and get them to promote it, as well.
Utilize Old-School Outreach
Much of this content you create can be repurposed and sent out as event newsletters, which utilize the venerable digital communication of email.
Email gets a bad rap as far as marketing is concerned, but business communication still runs on email. You can also utilize email marketing to build excitement for ticket sales and promotions and to showcase your event’s sessions and speakers.
Still, as far as old-school communication is concerned, you can go even further by utilizing good ol’ snail mail. Because it is rarely used to market events anymore, receiving a physical piece of mail can genuinely surprise attendees. However, the content has to be worth sending. Again, because it is rarely used to market events, recipients are more accustomed to receiving junk mail. If you utilize the USPS, the content you send must be fun and creative enough to energize attendees.
As you create content and encourage conversations around your event, you will likely see attendee anticipation rise. Utilizing content marketing to build pre-event hype can help your current and future events thrive.