Content marketing is one of the most popular and effective tools in attracting attention and it’s here to stay. But not everyone has good success with it when it comes to their events. If you’re floundering, we may know the reason why.
Content marketing is not a balm or a panacea for low event attendance. One post isn’t likely to make your event a sell out overnight but done well it can help improve your reach; help people know, like, and trust your event as a resource; and cause people to get excited about it. If these things aren’t happening in your content marketing, it’s not them. It’s you.
You’re Not Appealing to Your Target Audience
Fishermen know the bait matters. If you have a particular catch you have your heart set on, you need to fish where that fish is and use something it likes to eat. You’ll never catch a shark in the Bering Sea with lettuce; I don’t care how good your rod and reel are.
The same is true of content marketing. You can produce the best articles ever penned but if they don’t appeal to your audience, if they don’t find them interesting, you might as well not even produce it. Make sure you know what they like. Then do a whole lot of it.
You’re Not Giving It to Them in a Medium They Enjoy
Back to your target audience again. Are you noticing a pattern? Again, you can create amazing content but if it’s not in a form that they enjoy, nada. For instance, I hate video. There I’ve said it. I prefer to read content. This is true for two reasons: I like to read and with reading, I am in control of skimming the content. You can’t do that with video. That said, if a conference organizer wanted to attract me and all of my like-minded peers, written content would be more important than videos. I simply don’t watch them.
For good event content marketing, you either need to know your audience very well or you need to produce content in a variety of mediums. You’re safest doing the latter.
You Don’t Have a Strategy
Content marketing is about more than just creating content. You need to be strategic in your efforts. If your event is extremely expensive, for instance, and if because of that it requires a long decision process in order to buy a ticket, you need content that’s tied into early, middle, and late stages of the buying decision. You need content that gets attendees excited and helps them explain the expense to their manager. You also need content that speaks to your sessions and learning experiences and much more. Plus you need to know where and when to place that content in front of your audience.
And, by the way, heavy-handed selling is not an effective strategy in content marketing. Your goal – regardless of what your event goal is – is to be helpful to your ideal attendee, not sell to them like an infomercial.
You Post Whenever You Want To
Back to your audience. You need to post when they’re online. Don’t discount the possibility that Sunday night may be your optimal time to reach them. There’s less noise and people are often preparing for the beginning of the work week. Test your posts and figure out when is the most popular time to reach your potential attendees. Try a variety of posting times and days. Don’t just Google “best times to post.”
You’re Not Measuring It
You don’t think your content marketing is successful but if you’re not measuring it in a solid way, how do you really know? First, you need to set goals for your content marketing and map a plan as to how creating content will get you there. For instance, if your goal is to increase attendance by 10% over last year, you need to create content to entice attendees. This could mean creating video testimonials of last year's attendees and a different landing page for new prospects versus returning attendees, among other content.
You’re Not Personalizing Your Content Marketing
Earlier, knowing your audience was mentioned, but once you know them you need to personalize your messaging. This can include different landing pages as mentioned above and/or different greetings/content when they visit your event site based on if they’ve attended before or not (assuming you’re able to cookie them).
People who see a personalized message that speaks directly to them are more likely to act.
You Don’t Spend a Lot of Resources on Your Content Marketing
Content marketing takes time. You can’t produce quality content in fifteen minutes. Actually, the industry average on blog posts is around 2-3 hours now. You can create the content yourself or pay someone to do it, but either way, it’s going to take some resources.
But you don’t want to just throw money at it either. You need a strategy and goals to understand if you’re getting a return on your investment.
You Are Waiting for Them to Come
If you’ve heard how good content resonates with an audience and you had an “If you build it, they will come” idea percolating in your head, it’s time to realize that was a movie about baseball. Nothing more. Today, you need to get your content out there. This includes social media (paid and free), email, newsletters, blogger outreach, paid advertising, and guest blogs about your event.
Very few people will serendipitously find you. Do them a favor and help them by being everywhere that makes sense for reaching your ideal attendee.
You Hired a Terrible Content Creator
Okay, it has to be said… sometimes the content is just awful. It doesn’t resonate with your audience. It isn’t useful. The tone is wrong. You aren’t convincing as an industry expert or even one who knows what s/he is doing. It’s just plain missing the mark. A good way to figure this out is by taking a look at the analytics on your event pages. Is traffic coming to the main landing page and clicking off before clicking anywhere else? This shows a disconnect. They like the idea of your event and then get to the main page and suddenly lose interest. This means it’s not the price, the date, or the location (unless you have all that on the main landing page). This indicates a tone or messaging problem, especially is they all drop off here without going anywhere else.
You Haven’t Personalized the Pitch to the Niche
If your event is very niche-specific, like a niche industry association, you need to be using their language and appealing to their concerns and things that impress them. If your content is “speaking” in generics industry professionals will feel a large disconnect. And disconnects don’t sell tickets.
You Haven’t Given It Enough Time
You can’t write one blog post the day before tickets go on sale and expect it to impact attendance. Content marketing takes time because it is centered on relationship building and gaining the know, like, and trust of attendees.
The nice thing about it is that when those relationships are established, they will continue to pay off with a little stoking well into the future.
Content marketing won’t normally make you an overnight sensation but if you invest the time in creating content for your ideal attendee, it will get you noticed and people will want to learn more about your event. However, content marketing is an ongoing undertaking. It’s like undergoing a healthy lifestyle change. You’re not looking to drop 10 pounds and then eat them back on again and start the process all over. You want to change your habits so that you don’t have to continuously worry about that weight. With content marketing, you want to build those relationships so that with maintenance in between events you can keep those relationships going strong.
If you plan on creating a few pieces, calling it content marketing, and waiting for them to increase attendance, only to begin the process again a month out from next year’s event, you’re wasting your time. Don’t bother.
But if you want to create useful pieces for your ideal attendee that help in building the relationship between your event and those who enjoy it, content marketing is a very powerful tool.