Community is at the heart of every event business because, at the end of the day, we are local companies. Even if we serve clients far and wide, we’re all based within an area that has supported us along our journey.
As local businesses, it’s natural for us to want our clients to know everything about our city. We want to brag on our favorite restaurants, coffee shops, weekend activities, and more--all of which factor into a client’s choices when picking other vendors in your market. While all of this was once done through site tours and in-person meetings, we are fortunate that technology has opened up the opportunity to connect with clients and promote your hometown virtually.
Seeing your city through the eyes of a tourist can reveal a lot of things you might miss as a local, from the coffee shop you take for granted to the scenic park you used to visit when you first moved there. This practice of “being a tourist” and promoting your hometown as a destination shines a spotlight on local businesses and vendors that deserve it, which can lead to a steady flow of referrals and additional revenue streams.
You'll also become known for being an expert about your region, with all of the best recommendations and referrals at the ready. Clients will look to you for guidance in their decisions, and, in the process, you'll build long-lasting relationships through a referral network.
At the time of this writing, most business owners have closed their businesses due to the coronavirus, which has made it hard to stay top of mind. For many, the focus has shifted from marketing to reopening and catching up. That’s where we can come in and help to prop those businesses up during tough times; when life gets back to normal, you’ll have plenty of content to share.
So, what does this type of content strategy look like? Here are a few suggestions:
Create videos within your community.
First, human interest topics are always relevant and, second, video content reigns supreme. So put those together and you've got yourself a useful marketing tool. Consider what it would be like to have a reality show, and set your phone on record when going about business in your community. For example, share a live tour the next time you visit your favorite venue, or take in a popular activity in the area.
Promote the wineries and the nature hikes and the sports teams--identify what makes your hometown unique and showcase every aspect of it. If you’re going on a speedboat tour or a ropes adventure course, capture it! The idea is to excite guests with all your area has to offer, so they start planning their stay and how they’ll spend their time outside of the event.
Develop shareable long-form content.
The great thing about long-form content (generally, a post that is longer than 1,000 words) is that it can live on your website or social media profile as a resource for new and existing clients to refer to as needed. Consider writing a blog, recording a podcast, or producing a video that showcases local businesses. Roundup articles are a great way to do this--for example, “Eight Must-Try Foods in Chicago” or “Five Craft Breweries to Visit in Minneapolis” allow you to shout out multiple businesses at once. Those businesses can then share your content and showcase the community as a whole.
Another strategy to consider is the idea of letting others use your platform as a channel to increase their brand reach. Consider opening up your blog to guest posts or creating a monthly or weekly interview series on Instagram Live. This will limit the amount of work you have to do and nurtures relationships while increasing your "know, like, and trust" factor as an expert in your town.
You can then market this long-form content through Facebook and Instagram, particularly the Stories and Live features. This will go a long way in keeping you top of mind, while also showing the love to the businesses showcased in your content.
Start slow and learn along the way.
Don’t feel as though you need to commit to any hard-and-fast rule such as posting an interview blog or doing a Facebook Live tour each week. Putting too much pressure on yourself and your bandwidth at the start can lead to disappointment if you miss a day. It’s easier to add more content than take away, so start small and grow when you’re ready. Try your new strategy for one or two days a month, then invest more time into it as you see its success.
Eventually, you’ll also get a better idea of when your followers are online and expecting content from you. I typically like to share partnership content on the same day every week to create expectations with my audience and because the business owners are excited. You’ll have to test to see what works best in your market. You may also find that you work best with a schedule, so consider pre-planning quarterly content based on the season and other current events during that time.
Again, everyone operates differently when it comes to networking and content strategy, so you’ll need to play around with your tactics for a few months before you know what is and isn’t working for your partners and audience. It takes time for a new content strategy to take hold and show a return, so don’t worry if things aren’t turning up right away. You’re digging your well before you’re thirsty; you are creating a funnel for future work, and you will eventually see the fruits of your labor when referral business and partnership opportunities start streaming in.
Kinsey Roberts is wedding venue educator, marketer, and co-owner of Vista View Events, as well as a Certified Wedding Planner through The Bridal Society. She’s dedicated to helping women dominate their market and diversify their revenue streams through She Creates Business, a podcast and online shop for wedding professionals. You can also catch her as a co-host on The Venue Podcast, which helps venue owners navigate trials and tribulations within the event industry.