[pullquote]If we look at both sides of the coin, we can see that sales are far more manly -focused and physical by function. Marketing is more deliberate, refined and orientated towards people, which can be marked as more feminine qualities. From this perspective, the two fields form a logical attraction, which is connected by good stories.[/pullquote] Today I had a call from one of my colleagues who was amazed by a discussion in the elite group of Slovenia’s meetings and events industry where they were talking at length about the importance of content marketing. After a thorough and detailed analysis, an important regional player supposedly came to the conclusion that content marketing doesn’t pay off and brings no benefits. Judging by his words the only thing that works is direct sales on workshops and probably sales calls.
Personally, I believe that his thoughts were taken out of context, but they do open up quite a few important questions, which require an in-depth response. First of all, a classic mix-up occurs when we talk about ‘sales’ and ‘marketing’. They are two completely different functions that are today connected by none other than content marketing. Let’s take a look how:
The goal of any company or destination in the meetings industry is to gain as many events as possible. Meetings and Events marketers believe that you can only achieve those goals through branding and a series of tools that allow the currently supreme digital communication with meeting planners.
Meetings and Events sales believe in epic sales feats, workshops and sales calls to companies in a 1on1 battle with deadlines, which will generate a return of every single euro.
In reality, sales are the ones who bring in the money to allow others to live on the destinations, whereas the marketers are the irreversible spenders who absurdly throw money through the window.
I believe that efficient content marketing creates the opportunities for the sale to even happen.
To simplify it, we could say that marketing creates the opportunities, which are transformed into profit by sales. Only when marketing does its homework can the sales winners come to play. Bad sales figures are usually the result of missing opportunities.
Today, creating those opportunities and getting people excited is mostly done on digital platforms, which feed on good stories and quality content marketing. It is why we must involve content marketing in every single marketing process, as content is the number one necessary element for success in sale activities.
Too often do we equate content marketing with creative writing and ‘word forming’, which is far from the truth.
Why is it then that this content marketing is so crucial for destinations and providers?
I have summed up the answer in 10 simple arguments and facts connected to our industry. They are as follows:
The congress world is made up of stories
Amongst countless destinations, recognisability is the key competitive advantage. Congress organisers have zero chance of recognising you as the right option if they can’t differentiate you from all the other destinations. Differentiation can only be achieved through quality and targeted stories. If you don’t know or understand your focus group then you will have a difficult time reaching your goal, but even before that you have to answer the question: Who are you in the meetings and events universe and what story are you trying to tell?
Incentives tell stories
In reality an incentive product is not only a motivational trip or a teambuilding programme with all the accompanying logistics. It is a story with everything connected to it, from the first customer impression of the destination to a positive experience, including the way of communication with the participants. It is exactly the quality relationships with participants that are the key to success of your incentive story.
Offer/pitch preparation is your daily content marketing
As a matter of fact, you confront content marketing every day when you answer questions about enquiries and RFPs. Without proper knowledge you might have some luck with your story, but with content marketing your buyer will acknowledge the fact that you can solve problems, give added value and that it will be his loss if he doesn’t take the chance with you.
Congress Bidding is content marketing
Congress bidding includes all the elements of content marketing. Its success relies extensively on the way it is prepared and the way the destination’s story is presented. Like in every great dish, the addition of good and fitting spices can sway your opinion. In every candidacy content spice is the thing that gives the deciding vote, but it includes an enormous amount of experience, teamwork and professionalism in the field of content marketing.
Telling stories about yourself is key
Today, our attention is only directed to a small percentage of original stories. We, as humans, have reserved the focus of our attention for what seems useful or amuses us. Through content marketing we give meeting planners stories that are relevant for them and consequently they reward us with their loyalty and business. If we aren’t able to tell stories ourselves, our buyers will create them themselves and those mightn’t always be positive. When stories intertwine with efficient sales you have an open path towards success.
Quality content is a digital Trojan Horse
Can you imagine being in the global marketplace without your own web page?
Yet a web page isn’t enough. In addition to this, optimisation (or SEO for short) is the key for making your web page visible. Every web browser has it’s own set of rules for result classification, but all have in common that they give prominence to quality and relevant content. Currently this is the most dynamic field of content marketing, where you can quickly jeopardize your position in browsers by not having the proper knowledge. The originality of your content is also important. Before you spread it on the world wide web, you can check its adequacy with the help of www.copyscape.com.
Social media is the ultimate content marketing amplifier
Social media and content marketing is today’s winning combination. Through social media you can create recognition for your brand and at the same time direct potential buyers to additional content on your web page. With its viral potential social media has become a source of evidence that your congress service is trustworthy. You can achieve that with numerous content marketing tools, from posting informational articles, webinars and demo videos to good practice studies and white papers. Professional profiles, such as photographers, graphic designers, video producers and journalists, are also the key for having successful content distribution on social media.
More contacts – more contracts
Real and credible stories are the pillar for your sale. They trigger a positive reaction, which in the end turns into an active base of buyers. The starting point for direct marketing and sales is the conversion of content into a database of potential buyers. Therefore the golden rule of sales states that building a strong buyers’ following is key. A lot more time should be set on finding your focus group, which your story is tailored to. You should constantly have in mind that quality always beat quantity, which means you have to have interested and keen buyers who you can reach out to and touch with the right content.
Content is your company’s wealth
Good content is the communication capital of your company. Imagine you have developed an excellent incentive programme and maybe even copyrighted it. It is like your company’s seed, which can potentially bear rich fruit. Of course this capital is completely useless if you don’t take care of its proper content distribution. The best destinations and providers take distribution into their own hands and are becoming new editors who can keep meeting planners happy with attractive content.
Can you still afford life without content marketing?
We used to get along just fine with a simple web page, but today a complete user experience through every channel imaginable is neccessary. Just think about what drives the modern mix that leads us to a good event – quality content is powering landing pages, Facebook profiles, YouTube channels, corporate magazines, call centres, digital campaigns, newsletters, direct management and, at the end of the day, your event.
Not only do we need content marketing, but in every field it is omnipresent. We live in a hyper-symbiotic congress world in which what is currently trending may well be outdated by tomorrow. Content marketing has definitely taken over, with companies investing in content quality and thereby attracting new buyers, whilst at the same time satisfying the established ones. You don’t really need anything spectacular and if you are already being hunted down by buyers and subscribers then you are probably on the right path. For starters, though, just listen to your customers’ opinions and needs.
The cardinal sin of content marketing is being infatuated by your own modules and not being open to new information. The power of content marketing lies in the fact that it can take your buyers’/congress organisers’ side, which it understands and can give the right solutions to at the right time.
Content marketing – is a marketing technique of creating and distributing content, with the goal of reaching the right focus group
Inbound marketing – is content marketing based on giving relevant content that attracts buyers.
Outbound marketing – is traditional marketing in the form of ads, commercials and direct marketing. For many it is often perceived as intrusive and imposed.