I remember my first in-person industry conference perfectly. Less than one month after I started working at Influence & Co., my teammates and I headed to Boston for HubSpot’s annual INBOUND conference.
As a brand-new employee and recent college grad, I didn’t really know what to expect. The world of content and inbound marketing was still relatively new to me, and I’d never been to a conference with as many attendees as INBOUND.
In case you missed the recap of our favorite takeaways from the conference, just know that it was a great time. And from my perspective, it was an awesome learning opportunity to meet new people with similar interests to exchange ideas.
Still, one part of this conference sticks out to me: While my marketing teammates and I were in workshops and sessions learning about how we could become better content marketers, our sales team members were out connecting with people. Honestly, it seemed like every time I ran into one of our salespeople, they were chatting it up with someone new, building partnerships, and exploring future opportunities.
Our sales team attends events and conferences like this all over the country each year to connect with people because in-person connections are still incredibly valuable.
Research from CMI has shown that B2B marketers consistently rate in-person events as their most effective content marketing tactic. In fact, 75 percent of marketers rate it as effective. But our team has learned that you don’t necessarily have to host or sponsor an in-person event yourself to reap the benefits of one.
In-person events are such effective content marketing tactics because they offer the chance for human connection. Ultimately, it comes down to the simple fact that people want to connect with other people.
No matter how authentic and personable your content is, it’s still only content. Your audience can’t grab a drink with your article. They can’t get to know your infographic.
Even if your authentic, personable content generates qualified leads, it can still be easy for them to ignore your sales team’s communication because there’s no face to those emails. Those leads haven’t already invested time and energy into meeting and building a relationship with another human. When that in-person connection is established and your team builds rapport with leads, communication is easier.
Not only is that communication easier, but it’s also more valuable. Your team has actually met with this person. They’ve heard about her frustrations. They know what she’s struggling with internally. With that knowledge, they can connect her to the right content resources.
Like I said, though, you don’t need to host your own in-person event to connect with people and boost your content marketing effectiveness. Attending industry events works, too. In fact, conferences were our second largest lead source for new revenue in 2015.
Of course, relying on conferences alone to fuel your content marketing isn’t reasonable. But pairing a content strategy with in-person events can make both tactics more effective. Here’s how it works:
If it’s a conference your team is super excited about, you shouldn’t have trouble creating content about it. For example, about three weeks before the INBOUND conference, our content manager wrote a piece called "Heading to the INBOUND Conference? Here’s Your Insider’s Guide."
Because she’d been before, she had helpful advice about what to expect, and because she is lovely and funny, her post was perfect for generating excitement about the event. That article actually resulted in a few replies asking her to meet up and grab coffee. Without her content, she wouldn’t have had the chance to build those in-person relationships.
Chances are that the conference’s organizers have been promoting this event for a while. There will be content on social media and hashtags for the event; use that information to find and start conversations with other attendees. You can even share the content you’ve created about the event to make those conversations easier and help your sales team schedule in-person meetings.
As event attendees, you and your team can only write so much content about the event itself. You’re not the organizer; it would be weird if the only content you published before and after was just about the conference.
Instead, regroup with the members of your team who attended, and extract their insights. When you regroup with your team, you can create content that better enables sales and ensure that your sales team is using the right content. By using a knowledge management template, you can keep track of what your team learned about your audience through their in-person interactions with them. From there, you can use it to create new non-event content specifically for your audience.
Ultimately, the success of your content marketing strategy rests upon aligning your online and offline tactics. If your team can recognize the value in attending in-person events and pairing those personal relationships with relevant content, you’re well on your way to improved content marketing success all around.
I love cloudy days, office supplies, and rewatching the same sitcoms I've already seen a dozen times. When I'm not looking for ways to elevate content, I'm looking for opportunities to tell stories about my dog.