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Creating Content for Inbound Marketing: 10 Tips

When considering a shift to inbound marketing, meetings industry suppliers at times question me on the content creation demands that such an approach will create.  Hoteliers, DMOs and other service providers wonder if they have enough material to sustain a blog or other resources, how they will find time to generate material regularly, and who is going to write the required content.

As a small company that publishes two blogs (with at least one post each per week), two monthly e-newsletters and the odd white paper, I completely understand the concern.  Creating content for your inbound marketing program can seem like a full-time job!  When things get “crazy busy,” content creation is an easy task to put on the back-burner.

As with any business strategy, there is no silver bullet, but here are some practices that have worked for us:

Finding the Material
  • Start with the easy stories: what new services, facilities or partnerships can you write a short announcement about?  Resist the temptation to sound too promotional; instead, show how these new developments will help meeting planners. 
  • Put the limelight on one of your clients (with their permission of course). Demonstrate how working with your hotel or destination the group was able to achieve specific goals.
  • Comment on an industry issue, event or trend. This could show your understanding of issues, or that you are "in the know" about news. 
  • Use the calendar to your advantage.  Offer advice for theming events (from Valentines Day to Christmas), seasonal menu offerings, ideas for team building. 
Finding the Time
  • Start by making a commitment you can live with. When I started blogging three years ago I posted once per month; now I'm up to once per week. 
  • Stick with a schedule. If you commit to posting every Monday, for instance, it'll become easier to create that habit. 
  • Write a few filler pieces for those busy periods when you just can't find the time. 
Finding the Writer(s)
  • Just because you're the Director of Sales & Marketing, it doesn't mean YOU should be the main blogger.  Look for a person who likes to write.  Hint: Often these are people with the longest emails... 
  • Ask your staff, suppliers and even outside partners or other bloggers to write an occasional post. At Greenfield we encourage team members to contribute by giving four hours of paid time off for every blog that gets published (click here for our latest post by one of our Client Care Specialists). As for outside contributors, the added exposure, especially the inbound links to their own site, often is incentive enough.
  • I happen to like writing, but sometimes I have no time.  That's when I do one of two things: dictate my thoughts into my iPhone and ask someone to edit, OR I turn to my good friend and business collaborator, Mitchell Beer.  I'm at the point now where I can talk with Mitchell for thirty minutes about three different topics, and he'll produce three blogs for me!

Creating content for your inbound marketing program isn't rocket science.  But having a sound strategy will ensure that your efforts don't stall along the way. 

An Apology to OG-CSAE Meetings Industry Exhibitors

To my fellow suppliers at the Ottawa-Gatineau CSAE Chapter Tête-à-Tête (TAT) Show: please accept my sincerest apologies.  What I did was misguided and hurtful.

Following the January 31 TAT tradeshow, I posted a blog lamenting the extent to which some of the exhibitors had gone to attract traffic to their booth.   My purpose had been to raise the issue and "elevate the conversation."  Instead my post created an outcry.

I pushed too far by naming names and displaying pictures.  I regret pressing the "publish" button because it unfairly singled out certain suppliers.  The post has since been deleted.

As suppliers I still believe that we need to consider the impact of our promotions and how they may be viewed as too lavish or outlandish, but I know now that posting such an aggressive post was not the way to bring about change.

After reaching out to my colleagues and hearing their forgiveness, I am hopeful that we can move on and focus on creating better value-based and business-focused experiences for both planners and suppliers.

#Eventprofs: 6 Tips to Leverage Inbound Marketing

In the last few posts we have been discussing the trends that are leading meetings industry suppliers to shift the way they market their hotels, destinations and other services to meeting planners (see Understanding the NEW Sales Process and Inbound Marketing for Meetings Industry Suppliers).

This post will outline how successful salespeople leverage their company’s inbound marketing efforts. For this I need to look no further than Greenfield Services’ own Director of Client Solutions, Meagan Rockett.

Meagan started as one of our Client Care Specialists in 2005 and quickly rose through our ranks to become our Director of Client Solutions two years ago.  Many of our clients and industry colleagues have said to me how they “see Meagan everywhere.”  In a short time she has established herself as a trusted – and highly visible – supplier and partner.  This makes me proud because Meagan’s only executive sales experience has been the last two years in her current position with us.  She is a natural but I believe the key to her success also has been her ability to leverage our inbound marketing model.

These are the best practices she exhibits and what you should look to do with your team:
  1. Be a keen learner:  Meagan is an avid consumer of research reports, white papers and blogs about associations. She has made it her mission to understand her clients’ pain points from our work with them at Greenfield but also from what she observes with other solution providers.  This positions her as the helpful adviser, not as a stereotypical salesperson.
  2. Be a thought leader:  With her appetite for information Meagan is able to connect the dots.  And while she appears to be very proficient at documenting outcomes in her blogs and monthly enewsletters, the truth is that she works with a writer/editor to do that (and he is terrific – click here to learn about Mitchell Beer and SmarterShift).  And this is the crux of inbound marketing (a.k.a. content marketing in some circles): you need to know your stuff but if writing is not your thing,get someone to help you.
  3. Be willing to share:  Social media is the third pillar of inbound marketing.  Meagan shares the resources that she creates with her social media followers, carefully to striking a balance between posting Greenfield content, sharing industry news or other consultants’ association management advice and engaging followers in relevant conversations.
  4. Expand your reach:  This is where the inbound marketing model begins to take a life of its own.  Meagan began blogging in 2011, and she steadily has grown her circle of influence with followers on Twitter, and several groups on LinkedIn.  Not a huge followership, but a quality one.  And recently her social media activity led to guest blogging invitations on CventSocious, and XYZ University.  Her influence is being leveraged by other inbound marketers eager to associate their brands with thought leaders like her!  
  5. Don’t Sell – Create Conversations: With the steady stream of content Meagan is never at a loss for opportunities to open dialogue with clients, prospects and other interested parties.  She participates in groups and answers questions on LinkedIn.  When appropriate, she asks online contacts to chat by phone or meet in person.  With our marketing automation platform, she knows when someone downloads a tips sheet or our Pulse Report, and she’ll reach out by email or phone to see what they thought of the material.  The point is that she never has to feel like she inconveniencing someone with a sales pitch.
  6. Give Value, Not Swag:  As the owner of the company, one of my favourite secrets to inbound marketing success is that we choose to give valuable resources at tradeshows and other industry events, not trinkets.  Promotional products have a place in the marketing mix, but they can also attract the wrong kind of prospect if used just to draw traffic at a show.  For the last two years at the CSAE National and Ottawa Tête-à-Tête Shows, Meagan has sent emails inviting association executives to pick up a copy of a research report, a tips sheet, or other resource that would help them in their work.  We didn’t have throngs of people lining up to grab the latest electronic gadget or squishy toy – we had serious, interested buyers.
And there you have it: our own Greenfield “insider tips” to helping your sales team successfully leverage inbound marketing efforts. 

Could this work for your organization? We invite you to leave us a comment or ask us a question!