Your Conference Needs a Hub To Entice Customers and Prospects

hub and spoke

At a recent conference consultation with a client, a millennial made me think that I wasn’t keeping up with the times.

We were discussing their marketing and communication strategies for their event. I voiced my strong opinion that conference organizers should embrace inbound marketing (pull) over traditional outbound marketing (push).

I explained that a blog platform is worth considering as the home base or hub for the inbound strategy. Then she could use links in emails, newsletters and social media posts as spokes to connect back to the conference home base. The millennial piped in “who reads blogs anymore?”

Blogs Still A Top Platform For Content

I danced around her question and shifted the conversation back to pull being more effective than push. I reiterated that their conference needed a home base to optimize.

Later, I did some research to determine if there was any validity to her question.

According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 B2B Trends Report, blogs are used by 79% of all respondents as one of the top formats to distribute content. It ranks higher than in-person events or webinars and behind email and social media. So from a platform standpoint, I’m not out to lunch.

Where the millennial may have been right, however, is on the who reads point. While blogs are not dead, some believe the written word is dying. According to IBM, 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years.

Many of us prefer to consume content in a variety of ways including video or listening to a podcast. This means that it’s getting harder and harder to have your content standout from the crowd. We need to mix up the mediums and keep raising the bar on quality.

BTW, thanks for bucking the trend and reading this far!

Why You Need a Home Base Or Hub

I believe that every major annual conference should have a blog, or similar feed, to host your Conference Narrative. You don’t have to call it a blog, but you do want the built in functionality of a good blogging platform. You want to be linkable and you should own the turf where your content resides. It should not be behind a membership wall and can include original content for multiple conference years.

A good home base will serve as the hub for your conference online presence. It should be:

  • Optimized for search. Google should be able to find your conference organically. Think key phrases, more than key words. Google loves blog platforms.
  • Easy for users to consume, share, co-create pages or posts and subscribe.
  • Include calls to action – i.e. schedule at a glance, registration links, etc.
  • Contain links to outposts (social media or e-community links).

Outposts for Distribution

With a blog platform as a hub, you need spokes to improve distribution and reach your customers or prospects where and when they prefer. Some of your distribution spokes may include:

  • Email and newsletter previews with links to hub content.
  • Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

As you work through your inbound strategy, consider having multiple contributors for your blog. Some associations get volunteers to be social media ambassadors and pen a few posts. Others leverage their conference committee and speakers to contribute content.

Want more info, read Marketo’s thorough explanation and comparison of Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing.

Adapted from Dave’s Forward Thinking column in PCMA’s Convene. Reprinted with permission of Convene, the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association. ©2018.

How have you successfully used inbound, pull, hub and spoke marketing tactics for your conference? How have you used content marketing to strategically reach your target market for your event?

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1 comment
  1. Tola Adebiyi says:

    Dave is absolutely right about his inbound-pull strategy of marketing. Where most event organizers get it wrong is looking at human behaviour from a selling point of view.

    Pushing prospective members and attendees with aggressive sales tactics may give you traction in the short-run. But should you have a vision for your conference in perpetuity, you should do the right thing. Appeal to people’s choice-making faculty.

    The millennial had a valid argument about “who”. But to put it in context, written content has more relevance today and this is evident between Google Search volume and Youtube search volume for the same keywords.

    It’s smart to adopt video and audio formats for distributing content in the future, but we would be inaccurate to say “readership” would then become obsolete.

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