We've discussed storytelling before. Today I take it a step further with Michael Heipel in our studio. He shares his insights on how to master event content and how to create value with it.
Hi, Michel, welcome to our studio.
Hi Kevin, how are you doing?
I am fine, thank you. Our topic for today and this topic we discussed a lot of times before is on storytelling, on content marketing. But why is that so important for event planners?
Well, it’s a general trend in marketing I would say. I mean, some people say that all marketing these days needs to be content driven. It’s to be data driven on the one hand side, to really check how to what extent do you reach your audiences. You can measure that in real time today. But that doesn’t give you anything unless the content is not captivating, unless the content is not what the audience wants and what they like and what they can actually value. So that’s why I think content marketing has become very, very important for event planners, as well for event marketeers as well. And the good thing is we have so many fascinating stories to tell. So we will never run out of good stories.
Okay. But you say good stories, how do you know what is good content for your event and what isn’t?
The beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, basically. So that’s what counts. Good content is content that is valued by your audiences. How do you find out if it’s valued?
Of course it’s a lot of trial and error of course. I mean we’re planning... I have run an agency since three years. And we do a lot of content production and then also promotion. Not just the production but basically we also take care of the promotion and the seating and sometimes you’re surprised. You know, you find out what you didn’t actually expect. So it’s really... sometimes it’s a trial and error of course. There are also procedures and stuff you can do in order to find out, okay, like testing, AB testing. What is it that your audience values? What do they expect from you? Where is your niche? Because a lot of stuff has already been said, maybe not by everyone. But a lot is already out there on the internet. But you really have to find the proper way of how you package your stories and what angles do you have to give, your story so that they, so that the audience appreciate.
But there’s also a bit of being prepared to fail.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean failure is what happens all the time of course. But you know, in the old days, let me put it like this, yeah, when you for instance did video production at an event. Maybe after the event you came up with an image film or something like that, an image movie, and you tried to do it as good as possible. And that’s the movie that you use to promote your event for the next year, yeah. But those days I think they’re over. I mean it’s a good idea to have a nice video from your event. But I think nowadays what you need is a lot faster, it’s a lot more, it’s a lot more frequent. And as you probably use a lot of content, video content especially I think to promote your events you will find out what works and what doesn’t. You know, sometimes you have something in a week and you say, okay, this is really cool. But you think it’s cool and your audience doesn’t. And then the next week you have something where, you know, where reviews and everything is skyrocketing. But that’s also a little bit of trial and error.
But then if you’re talking about video content to promote your events that can be for example, one of the speakers who gave a short intro on his keynote? Or what kind of content are you talking about?
Well, it’s a lot of forms basically that are possible. What we do, especially in the run up to an event is, we do interviews like we do now. Use Facebook live for instance. Very often I use the platform, BeLive tv. In order to moderate interviews with one speaker or probably more speakers. But we are also doing what I call content snacks. And content snacks are very, very short formats, video formats. They are probably 25, 30 seconds. And they give an idea of a session. Or maybe sometimes I do interviews with a speaker via telephone. So I record it and I put, you know, I add some visuals. And I just take the core messages of what was said in the interview and I use it actually along with some visuals, and make some, you know, exciting content out of that. I mean, the secret is fast, be fast, be frequent and allow yourself some failures from time to time. Because, you know, you just have to find out what actually, what’s working and what doesn’t.
Yeah. And how do you measure the effect?
Well, that’s basically, several levels how you can measure the success of that. And of course reach is an important thing. So you have to know, okay, was it out or did I get the right audience? And if you’re using platforms like Facebook or others you know exactly who has actually seen it. You know, nowadays it’s not just enough to post something but you also have to have a solid advertising strategy behind it. So whenever you post content be prepared to also, you know, push it a little bit with advertising money. And when you do that you can basically measure how many times did people click on the link to your website. How many times did they click on the registration page. You can also use technologies like Facebook pixel. You can really track, what did people do after they watched your content. After they saw your image, after they saw your visual or your video, what did they do? Did they do what you expected them to do like sign up or maybe sign up for a newsletter or sign up for something else? So you can basically track that. And I think it’s important to, you know, think before you start a campaign, visual storytelling campaign, what is it exactly that you want to achieve? Is it just reach? That’s nice, but reach alone doesn’t give you anything. It doesn’t give you any return for your money. Or is it really that you want people to do an action to, you know, register, to click on a link, to download something or whatever. So that’s part of the strategy.
Okay. Do you have any good examples of events who use this kind of strategy?
Yeah, at the moment we’re running a campaign for, for instance, the German Marketing Day, Deutscher Marketing Tag. Which is a 1,500 people conference, the meeting conference for marketing and the German speaking markets, I would say. And we do it exactly like this. You know, every week we post content, which is mostly some animated kind of an interview, or the contents of a specific session, you know, like an infographic. And all we ask people, also we ask the speakers to do video selfies which is a pretty nice thing as well. Because you can’t drive everywhere and record that, it’s not doable, it’s too expensive. You know, taking a video team and going to all the places where the speakers are, especially when they’re outside of Germany, it’s not doable, it’s too expensive. So we ask them to send us video selfies. And we give them a number of questions and they record themselves answering those questions. And out of that content we produce very interesting visual formats. And every week like we publish one of those. On Instagram, on Twitter, on Facebook, on the website. And then we can see what kind of reach do we have. And at a certain point we do an overarching advertising campaign. The lead medium for that is Facebook obviously, where we can track. Okay, we want the people to do, to take a certain action which is to click on that register button. So we can track that and we can see how many people clicked on that link and so, what is successful. Like I said, sometimes it’s surprising, because you think you’ve maybe, put a lot of work into a particular clip and you think this is really cool. You like it as the editor and as the video guy, but the audience probably prefers something else. So it’s really a trial and error, of course.
Yeah. You mentioned doing it on a weekly basis, is that a good interval for events?
It depends. Some of my clients do it on a biweekly basis. I think you could also, You really have to look into when do people register. And that’s the time where you have to be present. Shortly before that. And then, you know, there’s a certain trend that people tend to register later and later, I have the feeling. I used to run events for almost 20 years and my feeling is that, the time to decide if they want to come or not to an event, is very short now for a number of reasons. So in that, let me call it customer journey, there are several touch points you have with them. And you have to be present all the time. That’s why I’m saying, it’s not enough just to have this one great image movie for your event and put it out there at once. But you need a certain frequency to be present.
Michael, I want to thank you very much for your time and for sharing these tips with our audience.
Thank you very much for the opportunity.
You’re welcome. And you at home, thank you for watching our show, I hope to see you next week.