I recently had the good fortune of attending the 2011 Content Marketing Summit hosted by ten24 Web Solutions. (I was a stand-in for Ms. Ann Handley whose book I had the good fortune of giving away at the summit's conclusion.) The experience reminded me of the power and importance of live events as part of a content marketing strategy.
What makes live events so great? Three things stand out:
1. The Power of Presence
You can always share content via a blog post or a download from your website. If you want your sharing to feel more interactive, you could produce a webcast and get your interaction fix via the chat function. Still, a webcast can sometimes feel like a phone call into the void; you're talking and you hope somebody's listening, but you just can't be sure.
When you present live, on the other hand, you know exactly how well, or not, your message is getting across. You can see it in people's faces, the way they nod their heads (or nod off), and the way they take notes. You can check in with the audience, you can invite them to interrupt you, or you can incorporate them into your presentation. Presenting live creates a different energy than presenting remotely and gives you a chance to really connect with your listeners, not just with your USB port.
In addition, when you bring people together for a live event, you give them a chance to interact with each other. And when people make meaningful connections at your events, they start thinking about you in a different way. You stop being a vendor or sponsor and become a facilitator of community, a connector, a hub. This not only encourages people to see your brand reflected in the company you keep ("I met a lot of cool people there"), it also gets them to look forward to (and talk about) attending your next event.
2. Full Plate
Let's face it, asking people to attend a five-hour webinar is a non-starter. Invite them to a half-day "summit" featuring continental breakfast, coffee, cookies and brownies, and you'll get a completely different reaction. Not only will this appeal to the natural, human inclination to get out of the office and eat sweets, it will give you the opportunity to offer your audience more than 45 minutes neath a headset.
Instead, you can bring them a variety of speakers addressing a range of (ideally related) topics. Moreover, by inviting others to present at your event you strengthen relationships with existing or potential partners while providing a kind of cover for your own time on the mic. No one is going to attend an event that sounds like it'll be little more than a dog and pony show. If, on the other hand, it sounds like a lot of ground will be covered and one of the presenters just happens to be the host, expectations immediately change.
Of course, this doesn't mean that after your guests speak you can get up and do a product demo. Instead, you should follow the example of ten24 Web Solutions' Anna Barcelos and Brad Gustavesen and give an informed and practical presentation on a topic of interest to the audience on which you happen to be experienced experts (in this case they spoke about the challenges of optimizing email for mobile devices).
3. Content Breeds Content
The final reason that you should consider a live event is that it not only allows you to present your stuff in a setting that is better than desktop-to-desktop and curate content "live" by showcasing good speakers, but it also gives you the opportunity to produce more content!
In addition to the slides you'll post for download on a landing page devoted to the event, you'll have a recap on your blog (along with some follow-up posts), videos of the presentations themselves, and off-the-cuff interviews with attendees. You'll also get mentions on the blogs and websites of the other presenters, attendees, and even invited media <ahem>.
Long story short, a live event is veritable content cornucopia!
Take the first step (it's free).
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