A Content Strategy That Sells Out Events: Lessons from Copyblogger’s Authority Intensive
It’s 6pm on May 7th, and the Copyblogger event, Authority Intensive, is about to begin. I can tell by the sudden onslaught of people arriving, all sporting name tags and mobile devices their thumbs can’t stop touching.
Not to mention #authority2014 just started trending in Denver. If a trending hashtag isn’t a dead giveaway that a marketing event just started, I don’t know what is.
What the Heck Is Authority Intensive?
Authority Intensive is a 3-day conference for bloggers, content marketers, branding people, and designers who’ve come together to learn the newest trends, tricks, and best practices of content/digital marketing. It’s taking place mile high in Denver, Colorado.
There are roughly 28 hours of scheduled events on hot topics in content marketing (design, content, traffic, conversion)—including keynote speeches from big-name people like marketing king Seth Godin, MarketingProfs’ Ann Handley, and Airbnb’s Dennis Goedegebuure.
The topics are so hot, in fact, tickets sold out three months before the event.
What was that? Yes, three months ahead of time.
This gave me pause, too. And I started to wonder: Was it just the big-name speakers bringing in the attendees by the hundreds? Or was there a specific content marketing strategy behind this excellent response?
Turns out, the answer is neither.
You don’t have to do a lot of content marketing in preparation for an event, when you’ve been doing content marketing consistently for eight years, said Brian Clark, founder and CEO of Copyblogger Media.
Copyblogger is known for having a close-knit, active community of content marketers, bloggers, and designers already. It was natural to activate that community around an in-person event.
If anything, the content marketing “strategy” behind this conference was really rooted in the foundation of Copyblogger as a company.
It uses a reciprocal relationship approach. If a company is dedicated to its community, then the community supports the company in return. The community of users learns to trust the brand and what it stands for. (In short: give first, and you’ll get back.)
As a result, it’s not as much of a chore to market your conference—even when it is the debut year. Your community is already there and ready to support your brand.
Not to say that it’s easy to build such a community. Clark said it takes roughly 3-5 years to build an active, strong network in any industry.
But once you do, your community rallies behind you.
Attendees confirmed that notion. A married couple from Canada, who are a writing-designing duo with their company MightyWrite, said they’ve been following Copyblogger’s thought leadership for years. Bonnie Southcott, senior producer for toolhouse, a digital marketing agency, said she felt confident that—based on the little content that did come from Copyblogger about the event—it was something she’d be interested in.
So there you have it. Their strategy is the long-term investment in growing a community around their brand—and since they’ve built a solid network, a three-day conference at a fun hotel (The Curtis) isn’t so hard to pull off.
As Jerod Morris, director of content at Copyblogger so nicely put it: “The strategy really started eight years ago.”
…for extra measure, I decided to take a look at the content that actually was produced and distributed to the Copyblogger community. Here’s what I came up with.
- Started 2 social network groups for registrants to communicate and network in the final week leading up to the event (Google+ and LinkedIn).
- Published 6 blogs directly related to the event (and several more that either mention the event or link to it)
- Created 1 fairly robust landing page for event registrants
- Created 1 fairly robust landing page for non-event registrants
- Sent 2-3 emails leading up the event
- Gave out 1 swag bag per person (which included a 49-page program, a live piece of bamboo, a pre-posted Mother’s Day card, a “Magic 8-ball,” and pen and paper, some of which were from the event sponsors)
So it wasn’t nothing. But still, this immediate content strategy wasn’t the driving force behind this event’s registration and attendance success.
Stay tuned for more highlights from the Copyblogger Authority Intensive event by following me at @jeanwrites. If you have any burning questions for the speakers, let me know and I’ll try to ask them directly.
And, if you’re looking for more information about how to use content marketing to help you prepare for events—and don’t have as robust of a community as Copyblogger has—we’ve got some great tips and strategies that really work.