Let Your Narrative be Your Marketing

Attracting new attendees to professional conferences is hard work. Throwing more money at ads in trade publications, retargeting and paying for social listings will usually result in increased traffic and impressions, but low- to no-conversion rates.

Several years ago we did consulting for one of the largest trade shows in the country. They had a very small education program. After examining their marketing strategy and effectiveness, we learned that the most-opened and acted-upon emails were the ones about the education offerings. While these emails didn’t result in high conversion for the education program, they significantly moved the needle for participation in the expo.

The moral of the story is that attendees tune out promotional noise. They are attracted to content with high relevance. When you provide previews of educational sessions or tracks that align with the problems or aspirations of your target market, that audience takes notice … and action.

If you want to improve marketing effectiveness and conversion, the number one thing you can do is embrace content marketing to communicate your conference narrative. 
October 2018
Video : Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute, on "The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing"

Content marketing has grown by leaps and bounds during the past five years. Unfortunately, too few conference professionals have any idea what embracing the long-tail, pull benefits of content marketing even means. Here are four phases for crafting your conference narrative.
At a recent facilitation, we were discussing how event organizers should embrace inbound marketing (pull) versus traditional outbound marketing (push) and that a blog is worth considering as the content hub. That's when a millennial task-force member asked, "Who reads blogs anymore?" Research shows that blogs rank higher than in-person events or webinars as platforms to distribute content.

The last of the attendees have gone home and it’s safe to say that your event was a success! You’ve captured valuable content from your general sessions and breakouts. The show can and must go on with the right post-event participation strategy.

Organic traffic is only one part of the complex puzzle of digital marketing. As the adoption of  content marketing has grown, so has competition for search terms and audience attention – especially in competitive industries. A lot of content pollution muddies the ocean of content marketing. The bottom line: If content is not  converting   on its own, it’s hard to prove the ROI of content marketing.