Dominate the Madness: 4 Tips For Successful Event Marketing

March 21, 2014

Newsjacking the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament has become a popular practice for content marketers. It's one of the most widely-known examples of event marketing, where organizations look to leverage a tangential event and tie it to their brand to drive their own goals. Seemingly everyone has a bracket or pseudo-tournament created to promote their own content -- and if you don’t already, you’re brainstorming ways you can.

When done creatively, your content can capitalize on the popularity of an event and drive positive growth for your business. However, more often than not these strategies are merely attempts to cash-in on the event itself, without a clear strategy.

As the brackets are announced and the games begin, I thought it would be interesting to compare March Madness to the madness involved in a content marketer's event marketing efforts.

So, without further ado -- here are 4 content marketing tips to help you take event marketing beyond the first rounds:

1. Venture beyond the court.

My favorite part of the tourney is the side-stories that occur; after all, you never know what can happen during March Madness. TV networks love a good personal story – especially if it involves an unknown team that comes out of nowhere. Don’t be afraid to come out of nowhere. Sticking to a single topic with your content can get boring for your audience; you need to branch out to stand out.

The first step is thinking about how can you craft a compelling story with your content.  The best directors add some color without breaking character, include guest stars, and explore new mediums until they find the right fit. Try using a variety of story genres; for example, the Cinderella theme is quite popular at this time of year. Think about the characters who can help you tell your story best.

If your audience is particularly opinionated about a given event, try setting up a debate within your LinkedIn group forum. Moderate a discussion about different perspectives and solutions, while jotting notes for future content pieces. Let your audience do the talking and show you the off-court stories.

2. Think mobile.

The NCAA has expanded tourney viewing capabilities in recent years, and now users can stream all games via their mobile devices. They can also track statistics and monitor their brackets within those same apps. Bottom line: the audience is already mobile, so make sure you are, too.

Mobile content should serve to enhance your overall event experience, providing the ability to make real-time decisions based on immediate needs. Think about providing a running journal of content during the event, as well as post-event fulfillment opportunities (white papers, eBooks, incentives or special offers).

If you are launching a marketing campaign, mobile must be part of the plan. Answer these questions before getting started.

  • Is your website/blog viewable in a mobile-friendly format across tablets and smartphones? If the user needs to zoom in to read a desktop-configured site, they are more likely to bounce.
  • Do you include simple call-to-action buttons on the mobile site/blog, which can easily be accessed with a tap of the finger?
  • Are you short and succinct with your mobile content?

3. Be careful with brand names and trademarks.

Several companies have found legal trouble when using the phrase “March Madness” in marketing, paid advertisements or search listings for example.

If you are planning to create content around an event, make sure to identify the legal parameters before publishing content with that event’s branding.

Unless you are a sponsor, it’s likely that the event will have restrictions on content/logo usage, so research in advance and save your legal department future headaches.

4. Be your own bracketologist.

College basketball statisticians analyze reams of data to determine who will attend the 68-team tournament. Everything from the team’s Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) to the national rankings is factored into the bracket. The result supposedly includes the best teams in the sport, though there are always some teams on the “bubble” that miss out.

How can you determine what will work for your content marketing efforts? Just like for these bracketologists, there is plenty of data at your disposal..

Here are just a few ways to enhance your content marketing efforts pre-, during, and post-event:

Pre-event:

  • Listen to pre-event chatter on social networks
  • Use analytics to see which content worked best the last time around
  • Create landing pages with featured content and CTA’s to generate engagement
  • Invite speakers to write guest blogs

During the event:

  • Provide tools for attendees to promote the event
  • Capture video interviews with speakers / attendees
  • Provide USB storage drives with presentation content

After the event:

  • Collect event buzz and feedback into a recap blog post
  • Provide fulfillment deliverables
  • Connect with new contacts in social
  • Gather engagement data for the next event

Event marketing doesn’t need to be an exercise in madness. A combination of ample research, off-the-court ideas and planning can elevate your content efforts to championship heights.

Are you caught up with the madness of event marketing? Tweet us @LinkedInMktg for more helpful tips!

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