Last month, Winbox won the chance to meet marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk in New York, and appear on his world famous ‘Ask Gary Vee’ show.
We’re not saying this to gloat (although it was awesome). We’re saying this to highlight the marketing strategy and tactics we deployed before, during and after the trip - to great success - and explain how you can use these tactics to improve engagement at your own events.
We know we hit the jackpot with our recent experience, and that not every business trip involves a return ticket to the Big Apple. Even so, whether the event is a biannual ‘must attend’ conference, or an intimate local gathering, there are some digital fundamentals that will help you squeeze the maximum value from your trip.
Much like Christmas, the event itself is almost never ‘The Main Event’. The lead-up, which should begin as soon as you have bought your tickets, requires a strategic marketing and communication plan.
Create build-up content prior to the event
Building interest isn’t about saying “Hey, we’re going to this event, come and see us” [repeat x 20] in the months preceding it. It’s about offering content that is valuable and relevant to existing customers, future prospects and event attendees. A great way to do this is through blog posts that tie directly into the event’s themes; joining the dots between the event and your business, via your content.
Gary Vaynerchuck and his iconic brand of social entrepreneurship have long influenced the Winbox way, but before our appearance on the Gary Vee Show, we’d never explicitly documented the fact. When we found out we were visiting Vayner Media, we leapt at the opportunity to tell our audience how his ‘jab, jab, jab, right hook’ philosophy has informed Winbox’s ‘give, give, give, ask’ one.
Other ways to ‘join the dots’ include explaining why this particular event matters, why you’re so excited to be going, and how that fits in with your brand story. This approach will build authority, and directly align you with those who will be attending the event but don’t yet know about your business.
When you share this content on social media, tag the relevant people, and definitely tag the event. For them it’s free publicity, so they might as well share and retweet - and they will likely have more followers than you. Make a noise!
Try and get interviews with speakers from the event
Interviews are a fantastic way of expressing authority and aligning yourselves with key influencers. Look at the list of speakers and find out what they’re going to talk about. Is it relevant to your business? Could it be relevant to your customers and other attendees? Get in touch with them and see if they’re available for a 15 minute chat. Write this up (or get it transcribed) and publish it on your blog. Include it in the newsletter and share it on social media.
Interviews are easy content, but they’re hugely effective and original content. Just choose your interviewee wisely.
Make sure people know where they can follow your progress at the event
Plan to live-tweet your way through the keynote speech? Let people know in advance. Intend to post an Instagram photo series of your journey, coffee shop by coffee shop? Tell them about it. Going to upload a video interview on your Facebook page? Say so.
You get the idea - set out when and how people can expect to hear from you whilst you are out of the office.
Use hashtags effectively
Gary Vee is the undisputed king of ‘riding the hashtag’ to maximise exposure and build brand persona. We have found the most effective way of doing this is with a two-pronged tactic:
Research official hashtags, so that when people search for the event, your content gets seen. In October, we made full use of the #askgaryvee hashtag, ensuring that Winbox was a name his 1.35 million followers associated with the show before, during, and after the event.
Create your own hashtag to easily categorise your posts whilst building your brand. Our hashtags #winboxwinners and #thejourney provided a cohesive way to talk about the Winbox experience across all our channels.
Create social noise...
Did we mention that we went to New York to appear on the Gary Vee show? If you follow Winbox on any channel, you must have seen us mention it - which is exactly how it should be. If an event is deemed valuable enough for your attendance (and if it’s not, why are you going?), you need to be shouting about it from the rooftops.
...But don’t forget the action
If the event is going to attract a lot of traffic for a certain marketing channel or your website, make sure you have crystal clear calls-to-action on your site for when people land there. Building a buzz is great, but the goal is moving these engagers to your website.
Think about where they’re likely to land, and make sure those page(s) are guiding them through to a meaningful interaction. Simple but often overlooked solutions like ‘download our ebook’, or ‘sign up to our newsletter’ will help turn buzz into business.
Execute your promises
This is fairly self-explanatory - if you say you’re going to document the event, document it. Anticipation may be magical, but imagine watching animals merrily bounce on trampolines all December, then waking up on Christmas morning to a stocking full of coal.
Keep the momentum going
When attending an event, it’s tempting to keep the inbox at bay, and put the content creation off until you’re back in the office. Don’t. Your audience don’t want to be left hanging; we suggest flipping your perception and documenting, rather than creating, content, to build authenticity and trust.
Respond to comments, content, and chatter
Social media is, by definition, social. It’s great to leverage global hashtags, but make sure you are prepared to engage with, and respond to, any chatter that comes your way.
After our appearance on the Gary Vee show, we interacted with anyone who had left comments about us on YouTube and Facebook, driving traffic back to our channels and generating enquiries. This is not the time for the ‘right hook’ or the ‘ask’ - focus on showcasing your personality with useful snippets of content.
Live stream where possible
Social media algorithms such as Facebook’s News Feed give priority to live posts - meaning more people will see them - and live content has immediacy and authenticity that after-action reports lack. People don’t expect professionally-directed streams, but make sure there’s a purpose to the broadcast, not just you enjoying a sandwich.
Utilise all the channels at your disposal
People consume content in different ways, on different platforms, so make sure you know where your audience is. If the event is a consumer one, that might be Facebook or Instagram. For a B2B event, conference, or seminar series, Twitter or LinkedIn may be more appropriate.
Don’t, however, simply replicate the same message across all channels - as Gary Vee says, “the medium is not the message. The message is the message”.
Have a follow-up strategy
If you gather data from the event (and you need to capture data), don’t let it go to waste. Send a follow up email campaign while you are still at the forefront of their minds, add them to your regular newsletter mailing list, follow them on LinkedIn - and if they’re on Twitter, do that too.
If you do follow up with a newsletter series, be careful not to bludgeon them over the head with a clumsy sales message.
When it comes to events, it’s not just about the networking and referral opportunities on the day; it’s the build-up, the communication, and the follow-through in one cohesive strategy.
Whether it’s a trip to see Gary Vee, or a local business award, those who create the biggest buzz online - through videos, social, blogs, and emails - with thought and strategic substance, will always get noticed.
Enjoyed this? Our blog is full of ‘jab, jab, jab’ expert marketing advice, based on our experiences - take a look.
Gary Vee by Randy Stewart via Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/stewtopia/3358132888