This is a guest contribution from trade show expert Peter Symonds.
Over the last few years, content marketing has grown from a marketing tactic used to generate publicity and inform customers, into an essential strategy for promoting any startup, SME or large company online.
The basics of content marketing are fairly simple: publish great content that solves your audience’s most common problems, informs them of the latest developments in your industry or teaches them something new and helpful.
Coming up with the strategy is often straightforward. Coming up with the content, on the other hand, can be tougher. From startups to small businesses, many companies’ content marketing campaigns burn out due to a lack of ideas.
If your business exhibits at trade shows or appears at other events, you have a great opportunity to get new content ideas – as well as detailed interviews – from the attendees and influencers you interact with during the event.
In this guide, we’ll share four techniques that you can use to create amazing content for your company blog, YouTube channel, guest blogging campaign, or other content marketing strategy from your next event.
Learn your target audience’s biggest pain points
The most effective company blogs discuss their audience’s pain points. Pain points are issues that your target audience is struggling with – inefficiencies in production or marketing, for example, or problems collecting payments from their customers.
Understanding your audience’s pain points is the key to closing sales and, online, an essential element of creating engaging content that your readers don’t just scan and close, but truly connect with and share.
Use your next event as an opportunity to learn more about your audience’s top pain points by interviewing people who visit you, or the people you meet. Ask them what issues they currently face, what they’re struggling with and what they want to improve.
Prospects are usually eager to answer questions and engage in conversation, unlike online. A quick and simple interview performed on 50+ prospects at a trade show, conference, or networking event will give you greater insight into your audience’s pain points than a month-long online customer survey.
Once you understand your target audience’s pain points, you’ll have a deeper level of understanding about what they want to read, listen to and watch. Dedicate each new blog post to a different pain point and you’ll command attention online.
Take note of the 10 biggest pain points mentioned by your target audience. Break each point down into smaller, highly-focused topics to fill your editorial calendar for the next few months with engaging content.
Build a network of influencers and content promoters
Events can be great places to meet prospective clients and customers. They’re also great places to meet people in a similar situation to you – startup founders and marketers eager to grow their businesses, often through content marketing.
12 months ago, online helpdesk startup Groove had a company blog full of engaging, interesting content. They also had virtually no readers – a situation that many online businesses and startups can certainly relate to.
Groove now has one of the technology startup world’s most popular blogs, with over 1,000 shares on their average blog post and hundreds of thousands of readers. Their promotional strategy was simple: build a network of influencers and promoters.
Building an influencer list over email takes a lot of time. At a trade show, however, it takes only a few minutes of conversation to get to know someone within your niche or industry and discuss how you can work together to promote each other’s content.
Reach out to other marketers and entrepreneurs at your next event and build a list of influencers. Afterwards, invite everyone to a private Skype group, email list, or online community to promote each other’s content via social media.
It only takes a few retweets and status updates to give your next blog post the traction it needs to reach thousands of readers. Focus on building your network at your next trade show and you’ll never worry about content promotion again.
Ask your customers about their favourite blogs and websites
Knowing what your customers struggle with will help you discover new topics and trends to write about. Knowing what your customers already like to read will show you exactly where you should be promoting your content in the future.
From industry forums that attract your target audience to popular blogs that could be major marketing platforms for you, chat to your customers about what they like to read online and you’ll discover hundreds of content ideas and opportunities.
Over the last year, many technology companies have discovered that the “biggest” blogs and aggregators – places like TechCrunch and Hacker News – aren’t quite as valuable as they thought. They send lots of traffic, but rarely is it qualified.
Smaller blogs and communities, on the other hand, are often highly responsive to good content. While they don’t send as much traffic as the big names, the traffic is highly qualified, focused and genuinely interested in learning more.
Don’t just use your next trade show or conference as an opportunity to discover new content ideas for your business – use it to discover where your customers hang out online and the topics they like to read about.
Interview influencers and thought leaders in your industry
Connecting with influencers – entrepreneurs, scientists, columnists, authors and the other well-known people within your industry – is tough. They’re often too busy for the phone, unresponsive via email and surrounded by assistants and other people.
At a conference or networking event, however, many of your industry’s most recognisable names will be far less defensive. They’ll be interested in learning more about your brand and may even provide a short interview about themselves or trends in your industry.
Many marketers are scared to ask for an interview with an established person. The most common fear is that asking for an interview is too selfish and self-promotional – after all, it’s incredibly helpful for your brand’s reputation and credibility.
Most influencers benefit just as much from a video interview for your company blog or YouTube channel as you do. It gives them a new audience, new exposure and the publicity they need for their careers. It benefits both of you in the same way.
Before your next event, reach out to your industry’s influencers via Twitter or email (here’s a helpful guide to getting them to notice your emails) and try to set up an interview. You may be surprised by how many positive responses you receive.
More content ideas
- Invest in photography – you’ll be surprised how much you can use high-quality images from the event in company literature, on your website, on social media and even for link building
- Conduct a quick industry-relevant survey of visitors to your booth – use a prize draw as incentive to enter and use the findings to create a press release to promote awareness of your business.
- Create a time-lapse video of the traffic to your booth throughout the day to document your trade show experience
- Live blog or Tweet the events of the day as it unfolds using the official event hashtag, offering key tips to those who couldn’t make it
- Publish a round-up post of 10/25/100 key takeaways from the event and ask the organisers to promote it via social media
- Make your blog posts more visual and interactive by embedding Tweets, Instagram images and Facebook posts from the event
Are you getting the most from your event attendance?
Events are great opportunities to generate leads and close deals. However, if you think of them purely as sales-focused events, you could be missing out on blog and video content that could strengthen your brand and help your company grow.
Are you really getting the most from your attendance? Treat your next conference or trade show as a sales and content opportunity, and you’ll walk away with both a stack of names and business cards and enough great content ideas to last for the next 12 months.
Peter Symonds is a trade show marketing expert from Display Wizard. For more practical tips on how to increase the ROI of your trade show marketing, download the Display Wizard Guide to Exhibiting at a Trade Show.