Meetings

Content Marketing: It Matters For Meetings Too

By / Dec 11, 2015

Content marketing isn’t just for recruiting, retaining, and engaging members. It can also be used to do the exact same thing when it comes to your association’s meeting attendees. Learn the how and why of doing it successfully.

The latest issue of Associations Now features an article on why associations need to create a strategic marketing plan and how they can go about doing so. While this particular article focused on its benefits for members and associations in terms of recruitment, retention, and engagement, content marketing can also be used in a number of other association areas like advocacy, and what the remainder of this post will focus on, meetings.

But before I dive into the topic of content marketing and meetings, let me start with the Content Marketing Institute’s definition of content marketing, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term: “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Now let’s take a closer look at how it relates to meetings.

Some How-Tos of Content Marketing

I blogged last year about how destinations are skipping the traditional sales pitch and refocusing their efforts on content marketing when it comes to targeting and building relationships with meeting planners.

There were two early destination-related examples of this. The first was Visit California’s 24-hour ad takeover of YouTube in the United States to launch its Dream 365 project, which included a variety of cool, fun, thought-provoking content like videos, memes, tweets, time-lapses, photos, and more to attract visitors to the state. The second was Choose Chicago’s Chicago Made initiative, which used events—like a music showcase at SXSW—to increase awareness for Chicago as a business and tourism destination and showcase the city’s technology and cultural industries.

Now hotel brands are getting in on the game.

In an article posted on HotelNewsNow.com earlier this week, Marriott International’s VP of Global Creative and Content Marketing, David Beebe, shared his thoughts on content marketing in the industry.

Beebe says that the first thing to remember is that content marketing goes far beyond the scope of traditional advertising. “You have to be really everywhere the audience is engaging with them,” he said. “It’s content that informs. It’s content that entertains. Sometimes both.”

An example that does both for Marriott is its short film “Two Bellmen.”  At 18 minutes long and with more than 5 million views on YouTube, it tells the story of—you guessed it—two bellmen who prove their company loyalty when the JW Marriott LA Live comes under siege by The Purple Panthers, the most notorious art thieves of the time.

While Beebe said the features and benefits of the hotel are seen on screen throughout the film, it is not overly promotional and the Marriott brand and name are not pushed in viewers’ faces. Rather, it’s the entertainment value that builds loyalty and gets people wanting to travel (and hopefully book with Marriott.)

“I like to say, content marketing is like a first date,” Beebe said. “If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.”

How to Get in on the Game

While your association likely doesn’t have the budget for a 24-hour YouTube advertising takeover or an 18-minute short film, content marketing isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, your prospective attendees are going to expect entertaining and personalized marketing efforts from your association.

So, as you work on your marketing plans for your upcoming meetings and events, it’s important to keep it in mind (and budget for it as well) as you begin brainstorming and then reaching out to your prospective attendees.

As the previous examples show, it’s important not to bombard your attendees with your association’s name and logo. Instead, tell them the story of what attending your meeting will help them to do. Maybe those stories can be told through short videos that feature previous attendees sharing how they have used what they learned at your meetings to implement new processes when they got back to the office.

Going back to Marriott’s Beebe, he told HotelNewsNow that the hotel brand’s content marketing strategy is defined by three Cs: content, community, and commerce. This means that Marriott hopes that by creating relevant and entertaining content, it helps them build a community on social and digital media platforms, which eventually leads to content viewers booking at Marriott hotels.

Perhaps those three Cs are a starting point for associations beginning the content marketing journey.

How does your association use content marketing when it comes to its meetings? Let us know in the comments.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. More »

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