A growing number of your supplier members are shifting their focus to content marketing.
They realize that traditional push marketing by itself is dead.
By hosting their own webinars, virtual conferences, online communities and providing whitepapers, research and content, they compete for your members’ time and share of mind.
Communicating Without Selling
Junta42, a content strategy company, defines content marketing as “The art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling.”
Content marketing is “Non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”
Content marketing sounds like the value proposition of many associations. And therein lies the opportunity, rather than a threat.
Co-opetivie Competition With Suppliers
Association leaders and meeting professionals need to consider how to react to the rapid growth of bias-free content marketing. If your mission includes education consider a co-opetitive (cooperative competition) approach. If you try to compete against those who have more trust or influence than you, you will lose.
Here are three ways you can leverage content marketing to align with your goals and the goals of your supplier members:
1. Give them a platform.
Ask your supplier members, practitioners and vendors to guest post on your blog, write for your publications or speak on a Webinar. Leverage all of your platforms with their content. Remember, content marketing isn’t selling.
Don’t make this about picking favorites, spreading the wealth or pay to play. It’s about curating the best information for your customers. Reward those that are most innovative and helpful by giving them more opportunities and access.
2. Encourage content marketing on the expo floor.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recently made exhibitors apply to participate in their tradeshow. To exhibit, each company was required to demonstrate their company’s innovation in their booth.
SAE realized that engineers respond best when they learn something at each booth. Like most of us, they hate slimy sales pitches.
Content marketers give away solutions to problems, not just tsotchkes.
To increase the value of your exhibition, provide more informal education on the show floor.
3. Look for partnership opportunities.
Some associations frown on having suppliers or vendors present at conferences. They fear these presenters will follow the Glengarry Glen Ross ABC selling model of “Always Be Closing.”
Smart content marketers adopt the ABH model–Always Be Helping. They want to provide value to your conference attendees.
If you locate an influential and innovative industry company adopting the ABH mindset, explore ways to cooperate instead of trying to compete. Consider working on a joint research project, e-book or a whitepaper. They might even have a killer new idea that will help make your annual meeting a hit.
Content marketers also like to push the envelope. If you partner, be prepared to move fast.
For more information, check out Marketo’s infographic that compares content marketing to traditional advertising.
Adapted from Dave’s People & Processes column in PCMA’s July edition of Convene. Reprinted with permission of Convene, the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association. © 2011.
Why are associations and meeting professionals slow to partner with suppliers that use content marketing? Is it really content marketing that attracts and influences or the conversations that occur around content marketing that attracts?