In a 2018 survey of Harvard Business Review readers, 40% said they plan to increase their spending on events in 2019. That’s a stat we’ve confirmed in our own conversations with senior B2B marketers, for the very simple reason that events work. As buyers spend more of the buying process in digital media, face-to-face events are an increasingly valuable way to weave a compelling experiential context for the brand that’s difficult for digital to deliver.
When I talk with clients about events, I make sure to mention another role for events that some marketers miss – moving beyond delivering experiences to engaging attendees in content creation – content marketers can use to scale the reach and influence of your event investment far beyond those three awesome days in Vegas.
As event spending goes up, booths tend to get more interesting. While you’re planning the experiences your brand will offer at a key event, make sure you don’t skimp on your plan for making experiences shareable. It’s no longer enough to slap a hashtag or a share button on an experience. Content with a high degree of novelty, or that lets attendees express their unique personalities will share well organically – and content people are willing to share can be much easier to adapt to paid social promotion.
Here’s an example: At Blackhat, we developed an in-booth experience for our client Checkmarx that dramatized their ability to provide application security testing at the speed required by DevOps by capturing booth attendee’s faces just as a high-speed burst of air in their faces gave them that wind-blown astronaut-testing look. Almost 500 attendees took advantage of the built-in sharing tools, adding their voices (and faces) to the brand’s voice in social content that the brand can amplify to tell and show the story of Checkmarx’ unique value.
At Black Hat 2018, we partnered with CSOonline to distribute content from the show floor that captured authentic voices of security and DevOps professionals. While Checkmarx has a serious performance story to tell, the event was a perfect moment to make the discussion fun to participate in. We sent tech influencer David Spark out into the crowd to ask about the relationship of security and DevOps by asking whether they were in need of couples counseling! David, Checkmarx, and the PJA team pitched in to create a blog post and social content and brought the humor and truth from the interviews to life in a video that’s gotten more than 14,000 views on LinkedIn.
Event plans need resources to matter, so it’s critical to budget for content creation and distribution now while you’re allocating precious budget resources. The earlier you start on an event-sourced content strategy, the more flexibility you’ll have to pull off an interesting content capture plan. Here are a few rules of thumb:
Have you gathered content at an event? Ping me on Twitter at @heyrobertdavis and let me know if reality lived up to expectations.