Much has been written on the force of digital as the delivery mechanism for content marketing. No argument there since the benefits are obvious, including the ability to distribute information to target audiences instantly and cost-effectively. And let’s not forget about good old, reliable print. Some say printed pieces are making a comeback because they now cut through the clutter, landing in nearly empty physical in-boxes. But no matter how clever we get, there is no substitute for personal contact. There is no greater power in content marketing than people.
But wait. How can in-person meetings or events be considered part of content marketing? The answer lies in thinking of content marketing in terms of the content itself, not the delivery mechanism. Turns out humans are media, too. According to one study, 70 percent of B2B marketers favored in-person events over 12 other content marketing tactics, including social media, website articles, blogs, white papers, e-newsletters, case studies, webinars and online presentations.
To shed light on this critical topic, I reached out to Joe Pulizzi, the veritable father of modern-day content marketing and founder of the Content Marketing Institute. I asked Joe to help explain how in-person events are part of content marketing and his opinion on how important this human contact is.
According to Joe, “In-person customer/prospect events are the pinnacle of content marketing.” He went on to explain that publishing, like a stool, has three legs – print, digital and in-person. Turns out you can “publish” content in-person via conversation, presentations, demonstrations or activities. “Most companies focus on digital,” Joe says. “Content marketing started in print and most big publishers have multiple magazine properties still to this day. But in person, customers or prospects become true believers for the brand.” Joe cites numerous examples, from small events in the financial sector all the way to the massive Dreamforce conference organized by Salesforce.com. “Talk about amazing content marketing, yes...some sales, but mostly educational information to help take customers to the next level.” ESPN, Fortune, Red Bull. The list goes on.
One more point. Instead of social media taking away from in-person opportunities, it’s now adding richness to content marketing, according to Joe. “As more social media communication is present, it actually presents more opportunity for those people to want to meet in person,” he points out. Social media helps us get the word out, facilitates meet-ups and spreads the content even while we attend these events.
Remember, not all in-person meetings have to be sales calls. In fact, most are not. If you or your company have insight and authority on a topic or industry, sharing that information and helping others learn is content marketing…whether those words are shared in print, audio, video, web, email or in person. When shared in person, a face is placed with a name. Hands shake. Mutual friends from the past identified. Relationships forged and cemented. Of course, we need the other two legs of the stool – digital and print. But to really succeed in content marketing, never forget the power of people.
For more information on the basics of content marketing, please download our free white paper on the topic and feel free to share it with others.
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And please contact me directly with any questions on marketing strategy, branding or content marketing.