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How to Use Content Marketing to Create a Successful Event
by Ryan McGeary on

Content

Content marketing is ideal for promoting an event. Creating tailored content for your event helps to build awareness and gets people talking. Generating buzz is critical because most attendees are unlikely to purchase tickets on the strength of an invitation alone. People are also more likely to respond favorably to content marketing than traditional advertising. 80% of business people prefer to get information in the form of articles than an ad, according to a recent poll by the Content Marketing Institute. Below you can learn some specific content marketing tactics to promote your next event.

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging can be an effective tactic to get attention from targeted audiences. With guest blogging, you post on popular blogs in your industry. There are two approaches you can take with guest blogging to promote your event. Firsty, you can ask speakers if they would like to contribute a guest blog post and then arrange for it to appear on a related blog. Alternatively, you can choose to create the content yourself.

Most blogs will not want to share content that is overly promotional with their readers. This means that you can’t write a blog post about the event itself. Instead, choose a topic that will be covered at the event, and write a blog post centered around it. Try to choose a topic that is likely to stir up interest or a little controversy. Bloggers like to see comments on posts, and if it is successful, you may be asked to write for the blog again. You can use your byline at the bottom of the guest post to include the event details and a link to your website.

One of these easiest ways to find blogs to guest post on is use Google. Use the following format for your Google search

[Industry] “Guest Post”

So for example, if we were promoting an event for the healthcare industry we would enter a search for -

Healthcare “Guest Post”

This should produce a list of blogs that are already allowing guest posts. Reach out to each of the blogs and pitch them your idea for a guest post.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts are an excellent way to build buzz for an event. They also give potential attendees an advance taste of a speakers content, so they can decide whether it is something they want to watch at the event.

To use Google Hangouts, arrange an interview with a speaker from your event. Invite people to attend and ask them to provide questions for the speaker. These questions will form the basis of the interview. You can also use the video recorded from the hangout to promote your event.

Use Video Marketing

Video can attract a lot of eyeballs for your event. On YouTube alone, more than 1 billion hours of video are consumed every single month. Unless you already have a lot of subscribers, consider starting a specific channel to promote your event. This will allow you to release a series of videos which steadily builds up buzz for the event. People who want to receive more video content, can choose to follow the channel. You can use videos from previous events as well as post event footage. Video content can include interviews with speakers, footage from the event, and summaries of what is going to be covered. Don’t forget to include a link in the video description to the landing page on your event website.

Every time that you upload new content, you should share it through your social networks. Share a link to your video on Twitter and make sure to uses an appropriate hashtag so that it is easy for other people to discover. Facebook is another great place to share video content. Studies show that Facebook members are more likely to share, like and comment posts which have video footage in it. You can also set up a dedicated Facebook Fanpage for your event.

Finally, use the “YouTube Insight” function to gain a deeper understanding of your video marketing. This tool will give you an overview of the demographics which are viewing your video content and where traffic is coming from. If a social network is producing better quality traffic, you should focus your promotional efforts there.

Promoting your event with content marketing requires creativity, networking, and a little bit of hustle. However, when it is used properly it is one of the best ways to build awareness and improve attendance for your event.

Shape the Legacy Your Event Leaves Behind
by Ryan McGeary on

Fun Crowd

Your event may seem like a momentary thing. It comes. It goes. It’s done. But if that were true, why invest in an event at all? According to Forbes, the event industry is growing faster than the economy, because every event is an opportunity to build your brand. If you don’t shape the legacy of your event, then you’re wasting a significant portion of your investment.

Before Your Event

Even if you’ve never heard “building buzz” before, you’ve seen it in action. You’ve seen how trailers tease viewers and actors appear on talk shows before a movie comes out. If they create enough buzz, the theaters will be packed the day the movie opens.

You have to build buzz over your event to make it a success. By tipping off your target audience prior to your event, you can build their excitement and engagement. Tease them with hints and clues about what to expect. Surprise and delight them. Build their expectations. Then, deliver something even better during your event.

During Your Event

While your event is taking place, you need to take steps to make it memorable, appropriate, and appreciated. Whatever the purpose of your event, you need to engage your visitors in the moment to achieve your objectives.

Inc. offers up some great suggestions, some of which will work for an event of any size:

  • Create an event within your event to engage directly with your audience.
  • Use social marketing to create an atmosphere of exclusivity and to encourage participants with in-event reporting.
  • Get honest, real-time feedback from event participants.
  • Combine technologies to enhance your event.

Keep your marketing objectives in mind throughout your event. It’s not enough to make it memorable–a drunken lout knocking over your displays would be memorable. You want to leave a brand-building memory in the minds of your event participants.

After Your Event

Once your event is over, it doesn’t have to die. Keep your event alive on social media sites. Get participants to talk about it. If your event is successful, they won’t need much encouragement. Forbes says, “The objective is to create an experience that is so engaging and relevant that brand loyalists talk about it on social media, post photos, and assume some of the brandwork of creating a consistent presence.”

You want participants engaged. You want them to look forward to your next event. You want the people who missed your event to know they missed out. You want your event to have a lasting legacy that keeps your business and your brand in the minds of your customers. You can do all of that if you use your marketing creativity to shape your event’s legacy.

5 Tips for Promoting Your Next Event with Linkedin
by Ryan McGeary on

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the best places to promote your next event. This social network has over 238 million members in 200 countries who are looking to network and educate themselves about their industry. LinkedIn also provides a number of tools which make promoting your event much easier. Here you will find five tips for marketing your next event on LinkedIn.

#1 Start with Your Company Page

Promoting your event on LinkedIn begins with you company page. When you have an upcoming event, update your company page. This update will appear in the news feed of LinkedIn members following your company page. To use your company page effectively, you need to begin your promotion well in advance of your next event. The more followers you can attract to your company page, the wider your audience will be when you start marketing your event.

#2 Use Sponsored Updates

A recent addition to LinkedIn’s serve-selflink advertising platform is the ability to create sponsored updates. The sponsored updates allow you to select any update on your company page and pay for it to reach a wide audience. Because LinkedIn knows a lot of information about their users, you can target updates using criteria such as age, location, job title, company and gender. Using sponsored updates you can ensure that your promotion gets in front of exactly the right audience.

#3 Encourage Speakers to Promote to Their Network

It is to your speakers advantage to promote the event. Ask your event speakers if they could promote to their own networks. LinkedIn members are much more likely to be receptive from event promotion that comes from the speaker than from an event company that they may not be familiar with. Consider doing a video interview with your speaker in order to encourage them to share content with their network.

#4 Join Relevant Groups

Look for groups that your event attendees are likely to belong to. You can find a list of all of the LinkedIn groups at the LinkedIn Group Directory. Keep in mind that some groups will require you to be approved before you can join, so allow time to be accepted by the group moderators.

Before promoting your event in the group, you want to familiarize yourself with the type of content that people are already posting there. You want your promotional content to be congruent with what is already being posted. You also need to avoid being perceived as hard selling your event. This can upset other members of the group and may even result in you being banned.

Instead, you want to viewed as a useful contributor. A good way to do this is to bring up an interesting topic that will be covered in the event and encourage other group members to share their opinion. You can then include a link in your content to a page where they can find out more about the event.

#5 Leverage Influencers Networks

When it comes promoting an event, one of the most effective techniques is to leverage the network of influencers in your industry. For example, if you were promoting an event in the tech marketing space, then you might want to reach out to influencers such as Seth Godin or Guy Kawasaki. Whatever industry you are in there will be influencers that have massive LinkedIn networks.

These influencers are trusted by their network who will respond positively to recommendations that they make. Asking these influencers to immediately promote your event is rarely effective. Instead, you want form a relationship with them well before you start asking for favors. Think about what you can do for them as way of introduction. For example, you could recommend their latest book with your own network. If you already have an existing relationship with these influencers, they will be much more likely to respond favorably to a request to promote your event.

In order to use LinkedIn effectively, it helps if you have plenty of quality of content to share. Videos, blog posts, infographics and white papers should be prepared ahead of time to assist with your event promotion. Remember, no matter who your ideal event attendee is, they are already on LinkedIn. Take advantage of the possibilities offered by LinkedIn to ensure your next event is fully booked.

The Conference Is Over. Now What?
by Heather Myklegard on

Success

You just poured your heart and soul into putting on the best conference you could possibly imagine. Everything went well. The speakers showed up, the attendees enjoyed themselves, and nothing major went wrong. The buzz is finally dying down and you have some time to reflect. But now what? What can you, as a conference planner, do to prepare for next year? Unfortunately, while the conference may be over, your work is not. There are a few things that should be addressed right away.

The first thing you want to do is thank your sponsors, speakers, volunteers, and attendees for making this conference such a success. A letter with your signature would be most appropriate. If that is not possible, sending an e-mail will suffice. Be sure to thank everyone on your website, your social media platforms, and through an e-mail newsletter if you have them in your contact list. Everyone loves to be appreciated and recognized!

The next thing you want to do is make sure that everything is set for next year. By now, you have told the attendees and speakers when the event will take place and hopefully where. Confirm your venue is set and that the dates are solid, the conference rooms are booked, and get details about parking and catering. You can iron out more specific details when the time gets closer, but make sure that you are on the calendar and that everything you will need is available. The next step is to secure your speakers and make sure that the attendees have a save-the-date. It is not too early to start promoting your conference for next year. Talk about it now while people are inspired from the previous conference and eager to do it again.

It is very important to re-group and evaluate the conference. What went well? What didn’t? Get your whole team together for a daylong de-briefing of the conference. Bring in some lunch and make it fun. Review the surveys you sent out to attendees during and after the conference. Which speaker did they like the best? Which topics were most popular? What would they change if they could change one thing? Take note of this very important information and put it into practice. The conference is for the attendees. You want to make them happy, so listen to what they have to say. Fix something if it is not working and duplicate those things that are.

Finally, give yourself a pat on the back and some time to relax. Planning a conference takes a lot of work, patience, and skill. Take a couple days to enjoy the fact that it is over. Give yourself kudos for pulling off such a great event. This will give you the strength to get back into the game and start getting ready for next year’s event. It will be here before you know it!

How to Convert Attendees into Leads
by Ryan McGeary on

Lead Generation

6 Strategies to Maximize Every Conference

You’re attending a conference, and you have a million conflicting priorities plus twice as many distractions. First of all, don’t panic. It really doesn’t matter what you do at a conference as much as how you follow up after you get back. Remember that fact, and it will take the pressure off, but it also points out how important it is to manage your time wisely. Once you get home, all you have is the data you collected. Here are the top 6 ways to make all those conference fees pay for themselves:

1. Get there early and map out your day.

The vast majority of attendees spend their conference waiting in line for registration, for presentations, for lunch, etc. Be the early bird and spend the down time preparing your game plan to hit the best presentations and booths.

2. Leave holes in your plans.

This is the next stage of problems that many people experience after they start preparing more carefully. They budget their time to the minute and lose the “Aha!” moments. Schedule time for depressurizing, for taking notes, for updating your schedule based on changes and new information. Take a little time to expect the unexpected and seize the moment.

3. Meet as many attendees as you can, but do it wisely.

The rule at conventions should be: accept 2x as many business cards as you give out. This is actually a challenge because so many interactions involve an exchange of cards. However, if there is a crowd around a person or table of a company that interests you, take the card and come back. They are much more likely to remember you when they aren’t surrounded in a sea of faces. This is also a better way to manage your time and cover more ground.

4. Pay very close attention and make it short.

Listening beats pitching every time. There will be time for your pitch after you are better prepared. Now is the time to learn about the people you meet because most people are not what they seem. Are they enthusiastic about their business or scouting for a new job? Are they thought leaders or just repeating something they have memorized? The after conference happy hours are very often the places where business actually gets done and whole new industries are born.

5. Jot down some notes for yourself after every interaction.

The one with the best comments wins. These will form the basis for your follow-up emails, posts and tweets. What did you have in common? What were they passionate about? What promises did you make? It all happens so fast that most of what is said at the conference stays at the conference, which ends up being a tremendous loss of potential revenue.

6. Get it in the system.

At the end of every conference day, transfer your hand-written or voice-recorded notes into your CRM system. If you don’t have remote access, save the data as a text file or spreadsheet that can be imported later. There is no time to waste because the efficient competitors have already updated their systems on the fly.

When you get back to the office, or even on the road home from the tradeshow, start prioritizing the interactions you had. Who are the mentors? Who are the prospects? Who are competitors who only want your information? Don’t start the process of following up until you are clear on your priorities. These six simple instructions will help you turn a useless stack of business cards into solid connections of an ever-expanding business network.

7 Tips on How to Market You Conference Using Twitter
by Heather Myklegard on

Twitter

When I attend conferences, Twitter is typically my go-to platform to follow and contribute to the conversation. Twitter is real-time, and it’s quick and to the point. Here are 7 tips for conference planners on how to market using Twitter. Your presenters, vendors, and guests will appreciate the direction and exposure!

  1. Create a Hashtag: The very first thing you need to do is create a hashtag for the conference. It should be short and sweet. Remember, you can only use 140 characters for each tweet so you want it to be short so people can retweet and/or comment back to you. Most conferences will abbreviate their name and then add the year of the conference. For example, Social Media Success Summit 2013 is using the hashtag: #smss13. Check to be sure no one else is using this hashtag. If they are, you might want to modify it just a bit.
  2. Promote the Hashtag: A hashtag is no good unless people know about it. Create the hashtag early and put it on all of your printed materials, websites, and other social platforms. Encourage people to tweet using this hashtag when referencing the conference. Always use this hashtag when sending out a tweet about the conference. Remind all employees, vendors, and sponsors that they should use the hashtag when tweeting.
  3. Set up a Hashtag Stream: Set up an alert or a search for this hashtag so that all messages and tweets with this hashtag go to the same list. This will help you keep up with the conversation and will alert you when the hashtag is used. You can do this using several different monitoring platforms such as Sprout Social, HootSuite, or Twubs.
  4. Tweet Before, During, and After the Event: Tweeting before, during, and after the event keeps your conversation going and the content fresh. Remind your speakers to tell the audience to tweet if they hear something they like. Give your audience your hashtag and encourage conversation on Twitter. Don’t forget to download the Twitter app or a similar platform so you can tweet from your mobile device.
  5. Connect on Twitter: Before the conference, look to see if your sponsors, vendors, and speakers are on Twitter. If they are, follow them and connect with them. Send them a tweet telling them how excited you are to have them as part of the conference. This will nudge them to tweet about the conference and shows them that you are using Twitter as a key component in marketing for the conference.
  6. Review and Analyze: You can learn a lot about what was tweeted during the conference. Using your hashtag as a search, go back and read the tweets. Which speaker was quoted most often? Which topic stirred the most conversation? Use this information to your advantage when planning for next year’s event.
  7. Say Thanks: It is always nice to thank you sponsors, vendors, speakers, and attendees after the conference. You can do this through hand-written letters and/or e-mails but it is also nice to send them a tweet. Give them some recognition and make the tweet personal.

What Not To Do At The Conference
by Heather Myklegard on

Microphone

If you have been tasked with the assignment of hosting a conference you know how time consuming and cumbersome this task can be. If you have never hosted a conference, buckle up! You are about to tackle a very huge project. Here are just a few tips on what not to do at the conference:

Don’t Throw Everything Away! There are many things that can, and should be, recycled. The most important item is the plastic name tag sleeve. Those can be used again and again. Make sure that you have a place for attendees to return their name tag. You can even host a raffle for all of those who turn in their name tag and give away a prize. This will incentivize your attendees to return their badge!

Don’t Over Do It. Less is definitely more when it comes to name tags. A first and last name with their company name is usually sufficient. You don’t need to add in their state, position, and favorite type of ice cream. People are looking for a name and that is about it.

Don’t Neglect To Check the Sound System. Sound systems are notorious for glitches and mishaps. Do not go with the cheapest sound system. Do your homework and find a reasonably priced system or company. Test the sound system a couple days before the conference. Test it again a few hours before the conference. There is nothing worse than technical difficulties when you have a room full of hundreds of people.

Don’t Put Your Speakers in the Shadows. Be strategic in where you place the podium and/or speakers. Make sure that they are easily seen from the audience. Do not place the podium or your speaker behind a huge pillar or in the shadows. This will deflect from their message. People want to see who is speaking to them. Put the speakers front and center with good lighting.

Don’t Run Out of Coffee. People can get really grumpy without their morning coffee. Make sure that you have plenty of coffee in the morning and afternoon. This is one area where less is not more!

Don’t Have Messy Food. There is nothing more awkward than talking to someone you just met and trying to bite into a pastry puff that is oozing with cheese or dripping with jelly. Finger foods are great. Just make sure they are easy to eat and clean.

Don’t Forget To Announce The Next Conference. Before, after, and during this conference you will have your attendees undivided attention. Take that opportunity to tell them about the next conference or event. Allow them to sign up online while sitting in their chair.

Organization Tools Event Planners Should Be Using
by Osman Sheikh on

Organizer

1) Trello

Trello is an innovative productivity and project management app that uses boards, lists, and cards to help get projects on track. A project on Trello is comprised of a board which can include any number of lists. Lists can represent the status of a project, such as done or doing, and cards can represent a specific task. Once a task’s status has changed, it can be moved to a different list.

Trello

Trello is useful to event planners and conference organizers because it allows you to add members to a board so you can get clients and team members on track. You can also assign people to specific cards and color code cards to better keep track of their status. The best part about Trello is that it is totally free, with a premium version available for only five dollars a month.

Trello can be a very valuable tool for professional event planners. You can create boards for specific clients and projects such as venue selection, decorations, and speakers. You can also attach files and images to cards for quick viewing. Another feature is the ability to create checklists within cards.

2) Evernote

Evernote is a great note taking tool with a desktop version, an iPhone app, and an Android app. Your notes are synced when you save so they’re always available. Evernote is useful for taking notes on venues, speakers, and anything else you need to take note of.

You can easily share these notes with other people by linking them directly to a note or by sharing an entire notebook (a group of notes) with them. Evernote’s usefulness extends beyond text as well. You can embed images, videos, tables, and other media within notes for added effect.

Evernote

3) Twitter Lists

Twitter lists are one of Twitter’s most underused features. You can create lists for different types of people, such as journalists, attendees, or speakers, and add people to the lists relevant to them.

A public list will be viewable by the public and people will be notified when you add them to one. Private lists are only viewable to you and you can add people to them without them getting notified about it.

Twitter Lists

Twitter lists allow you to monitor the activity of people you care about and filter the large amount of tweets in your timeline. This is useful if you want to engage with specific people or want to have a quick list available of a specific group of people along with their contact info.

4) Pinterest

Pinterest is a popular social network that describes itself as an online pinboard. Chances are you’ve used it to share fashion photos or pictures of dream houses, but it’s also a valuable organization tool.

Pinterest

One innovative way to use Pinterest to organize a conference or event is to create a board for venues, designs, seating charts, or anything else that has to be decided upon when planning a conference. After adding clients or team members to the Pinterest board, they can vote on their preferences by liking or repinning their decision.

You can also use Pinterest as a template for different types of events. For example, if you know that weddings usually require certain items and conferences require other items, then you can create an event board with examples of items and services that are needed for that type of event.

5 Things Event Planners Should Do But Always Forget
by Heather Myklegard on

Checklist

  1. Bare Necessities: Sometimes we forget the small stuff. You might be surprised how many of your attendees forget a pen. Be ready with a supply of pens and pencils. You may also want to have duck tape, a Clorox pen, mints, and a first-aid kit. You just never know!
  2. Emergency Contact Person: What if the lights go out, the pipes burst, or heaven forbid, you run out of coffee?!? Hopefully, these emergencies won’t happen, but it is best to be prepared. Make sure you know who to call if there is a crisis.
  3. Presentation Reminders to Speakers: Speakers are busy, over-achievers, and sometimes they forget that they committed to speaking at your event. It is common courtesy to send them an email or give them a phone call as a friendly reminder. They will thank you for it!
  4. Ask for Help: One of the hardest things for any person to do is ask for help. You may feel like you have everything under control, and you probably do, but there is always something that someone else can help you with. This will take the burden off your shoulders and allow you to focus on the bigger projects at hand.
  5. Make a Checklist: Having a checklist either in a notebook, in Evernote, or on a whiteboard at the office will help keep you organized. Writing something down helps keep it in the forefront of your mind. Go back over your checklist on a daily basis and especially right before the event.

Reflecting on My Summer Internship
by Daniel Ackerman on

Skills

I would have a lot of trouble telling people that my internship at BusyConf has been a job, at least in the normal sense. I hardly ever felt that my internship took too much effort, was too hard, or demanded too much of my time. Working on the BusyConf site itself was interesting, and while at times I felt overwhelmed, Ryan was always there to help me when I needed it.

Many of my worst programming habits have been resolved this summer. I now correctly use the shift key on Mac and Windows PCs, instead of the caps lock key. I also learned what habits to avoid, such as poorly named git commits. But even more critical, I learned to commit everything and that “vendor everything” still applies. In my opinion, my worst problem was naming conventions. I was taught that programs should be written with the future developer in mind.

I realized that many of the best programmers use Macs. I learned of a prediction by Paul Graham in 2005, that Macs would be used by all the top programmers in 10 years. Although Ryan insisted through his actions that Macs (Unix flavors) are superior to PCs for programming, it took me a while to completely shift my opinion. Much like someone learning a foreign language by traveling to another country, I learned about Macs via immersion. Surrounded at Ruby LoCo meetings by the iconic white apple, it was clear how other Ruby programmers felt. Nowadays, I just feel betrayed by Microsoft. My whole life I had been taught and somewhat mindlessly conditioned to believe in PCs – akin to the 1984 Apple Commercial.

The best things I learned were the most simple. Never be late to work, and quintuply so with interviews. Simple office tidbits, like going to lunch and that you should always “network, network, network” are more important than I originally thought. Optimism, persistence, and initiative are noticed. I specifically remember how I felt included. My opinion was taken into account, and I could always chime in. Ryan even taught me how to teach. I now have the opportunity to teach those around me.

I whole-heartedly recommend working with Ryan McGeary. I will not forget this summer. I still wake up with the optimism and passion I had working at BusyConf and then quickly realize that I am ‘stuck’ at college. Regardless of now being a student at CNU, and even having a great dorm, and new friends, I truly wish I could still be going in to work at BusyConf each morning.

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