Photo Credit: Estonian Convention Bureau

Is content still king?

Why does content marketing matter for the meetings industry today?

Today’s meetings are all about content—creating more meaningful information sharing, learning experiences and connection building at events, increasing real value to all players involved. To achieve meaningful and valuable relationships within the industry “traditional marketing” or even “hard selling” doesn’t work anymore.

Successful events are created only with the close partnership of clients, suppliers, destinations and other stakeholders. It has to be a dialogue between these different partners, and this is where the more targeted communication that content marketing is about steps in to build these meaningful relationships.

The shift towards content marketing has actually happened naturally

Does content marketing carry any real substance or is it just a buzz word?

We hear the preaching “Content is king!” so often that, yes, it might seem like a cliché with no actual “substance” behind it. But as there is so much and intense information around us every day, I think the shift towards content has actually happened naturally. In order to really communicate effectively, we need to have meaningful content. Clients can get a lot of information online, so marketing has to provide some added value for them that is not so easily obtained just by Googling. I believe there are a lot of opportunities for us all to use content marketing to a wider extent than we do today.

What makes for a remarkable piece of content?

I find that content is about telling stories that create emotional responses and establish meaningful connections. A good story is meaningful to the audience, has real value for them inspires and creates curiosity.

A fresh or different approach to the topic attracts attention. In today’s swipe and scroll world, our attention span is very short so the message has to be very clear and we should not be afraid of simplicity. Sometimes adding a bit of a personal touch and sweetness can be very charming to create an emotional connection.

How do you decide what topics to focus on and what format to use?

Firstly, we try to understand our client segments, their challenges and interests the best way. Trying to put ourselves into our audience’s shoes and communicating with them we look at what would be of relevance and interest to our target groups. To build relationships we need to know what is the “problem” for the client and what our unique value proposition is for that. This means creating content and trying to communicate the information that the clients are looking for. Based on the enquiries we receive, search words at our website, questions from our clients, information that our members want to provide, we can identify what content to provide. And of course, just thinking outside the box—tailoring content that could be surprising and interesting to the audience to inspire and attract attention.

This was also our approach with last year’s successful “Go Wild, Choose Estonia” campaign. The right format depends on the content—for more information-packed, educational content we have found blog posts and very targeted newsletters to be most efficient. For shorter and more visual content we are using Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

“Go Wild, Choose Estonia!” won the ICCA 2019 Best Marketing Award

A clear message, authenticity, fresh approach, quality and relevance

What makes content successful?

A clear message, authenticity, fresh approach, quality and relevance to the audience, the right timing, right format and channels, good copytext supported by great visual materials, a personal touch and being proactive—in the experience of the ECB all of these are part of the recipe for good content. Regular communication and consistency of the message/content are also important to actually getting the message through. Having a Content Marketing Plan for communication helps a lot but also being flexible, if needed. Occasionally, being first, quick and “on time” to provide some content to whom it might be useful may have great marketing value.

How do you know whether your content has performed well?

First of all, you need to have measurable goals to evaluate the success. We look at the performance of our social media channels, website, newsletters. But more importantly, we measure the engagement that our communication creates including the inquiries and requests that we receive and the profile of these requests. Very often we see that the same content that we have communicated is reflected back to us in inquiries—the same services, solutions or ideas are asked for.

We work also closely with our conference ambassadors and create content for them not only in the digital format but also with events and personal contacts. Their engagement to host meetings in Estonia, and the feedback and partnerships they create with ECB members are important KPIs for us as well.

What is your ultimate definition of content marketing?

Content marketing is a highly effective strategy where by communicating relevant information to the right target audience we can raise awareness and build meaningful win-win business connections.

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