How to use video (strategically) for event marketing

As live events start ramping back up, I’ve been workshopping my framework for how I approach using video to amplify them.

For video marketing agencies and production companies, events tend to be a tricky subject. Clients often don’t fully understand all the different ways video can help them get the most out of their event and agencies can struggle to deal with the complexity of organizing all the creative production.

Video can be used in all phases of event marketing from pre-event promotion, to post-event engagement.

In this post, I’m going to walk through both the strategy and content planning aspect of using video for event marketing as well as give a rundown of my pre-production and planning workflow. This is a high level overview of a topic that’s extraordinarily broad and deep and thus this post is inherently not comprehensive. If you want to chat about any aspect of this in further detail, drop me a line via email or ping me on Twitter.

Strategy: How video can give your event marketing team superpowers

Event marketing is a challenging field and events are time consuming projects that tend to have large budgets (and timelines) compared to other parts of an organization’s marketing plan. Because it’s such a large investment, it’s imperative that marketers get as much value from the event as possible. This means that they need to attract attendees, engage them during the event, amplify the impact of the event beyond the venue, and ensure that there are longtail business impacts long after the closing session.

Pre-event promotion

Before the event, you should integrate video into your overall content marketing strategy. Here are just a few content types that I’ve found work well:

  • Re-packaged event recap: leverage previously captured content from the last event and refresh it with updated graphics and CTAs to promote this year’s event to a broad audience.
  • Video pull quotes: if you have written or filmed testimonials or soundbites, use stylized text graphics to create a snackable video that can be tailored to specific themes or audience segments.
  • Speaker UGC promos: have speakers and panelists self-tape quick promos based around a common format, using standardized graphics to keep it on-brand. They can be distributed via a brand’s channels as well as through the speaker’s own.
  • Onboarding content: short and friendly videos can introduce new attendees to the event and let them know how to get the most out of their experience. Pairs great with an onboarding email drip sequence.

Video content can and should be leveraged across multiple platforms and channels from landing pages to social and even email or SMS. Tailor your video content to the channel (and audience) and integrate it seamlessly with your other content types to provide a premium experience for your prospects and attendees. Much of this content can be templatized and leverage multipurpose graphics elements that only need to be built once and can be used many times. This is also a great way to get more value out of previous years’ event coverage.

Using video during the event

There are two primary ways to use video during the event. First, you should absolutely integrate video into the event itself. Presentation content, especially important keynotes, panels, and other sessions should leverage polished branded video graphics in addition to slides and other visuals. Also think about other places where video is a natural fit such as part of digital signage and exhibitor space design.

Video should also be used to document the event itself, and this “event coverage” is generally what most people think of when they think of events and video production. At a minimum, presentation content should be recorded in full and there should be at least one roving camera team with the mission of capturing the feeling of being at the event.

Beyond that, the possibilities are really endless. Events often bring together team members, customers, and vendors that are normally located across the globe into a single location. Taking advantage of this by filming testimonials, case study interviews, and whatever else you can think of can be an extremely efficient way to build a robust video marketing content library for future campaigns. While most of this content will be edited and delivered after the event, it’s also important to consider the opportunity of using video in near real time for social sharing and extending the influence of the event outside the four walls of the venue.

Post-event engagement and virtual events

Once the actual event is wrapped, video can be used to take the momentum you built up during the event and keep it going all the way until the next one. In its most basic form, this might simply involve editing a recap video that’s sent to attendees alongside a post-event survey or thank you email in addition to being shared on event pages and social media. Depending on the complexity and number touch points in your post-event marketing strategy, you can add supporting video content as needed based on all of the content captured on site.

Another popular way to integrate video into an event is by adding a parallel virtual event to the in person event. This could be an offering that coincides with the live event and includes live streaming presentations and digital ways to network and engage with a remote audience. While this can be a very complex endeavor, it can also be a scalable way to increase the audience of your event if there is sufficient demand.

A less complicated, but still valuable approach to virtual events is treating the online experience as an archive of the event content. This is often valuable enough to work as an upsell to attendees as well as a ticketed experience for those who could not go to the in person event. I have found that this approach works very well even for smaller events because there are so many affordable platforms for hosting this type of content and many brands are capturing presentation content anyways. It ends up being a relatively low effort way to add a revenue stream that can offset the high costs of event marketing while helping to build an audience for other digital events like webinars.

Production: My workflow for scoping and planning video projects for events

From a production standpoint, event video is fairly complex to plan and scope. There are a lot of moving pieces including a packed schedule, a large crew, and a lot of locations and gear. For pre-event content, I typically follow my standard pre-production process, developing creative briefs, project timelines, and resourcing work accordingly. For the actual on-location work, the process is a bit more complex to meet the special considerations for event production. Here’s what that looks like.

Step 1: Identify content objectives and derive production activities

My approach to initial planning is to start with identifying the content objectives of the event and listing out the production activities that are required to meet those objectives. Objectives ultimately come from client stakeholders (execs, marketing leaders, etc.) but are developed collaboratively through a consultative process.

Step 2: Develop activity-specific resource lists

Once I have the list of objectives translated into a set of activities that need to be accomplished during each phase of the event (pre, during, post) I can move fairly quickly into determining what resources are needed to accomplish each activity starting with crew and then thinking through equipment needs (sometimes this is outsourced to department/team heads).

It’s very easy for event projects to balloon in scope so I spend a lot of time on this step looking for efficiencies. For this reason, I visually map a run of show schedule for the event with a schedule of production activities. With this view, I can easily see where there are parallel production activities that require discrete teams versus when production is sequenced and one team can take on multiple missions.

The end result of this step is having a production workbook spreadsheet that includes a run of show and crew and equipment manifest (segmented by teams). I continue to build this out with a production budget and database of all content to be created as part of the engagement.

Step 3: Budgeting and final scope development

With the information from previous steps, I know what my resource requirements are for the project and can budget each item accordingly. I use a modified version of my standard budget worksheet to develop a comprehensive quote including creative services (production crew, post-production work) and expenses (travel, equipment).

I also build a content database which is simply a spreadsheet for every deliverable that is connected with the project. This is not only helpful to me for communicating project scope to internal and external stakeholders, but it also can serve other roles. I use the database to calculate data storage requirements and forecast our camera media and external hard drive needs. It also serves as a hub for managing review and delivery links as we start delivering content to the client.

Step 4: Call sheets and the production plan doc

I like having my production planning workbook as a multi-page spreadsheet but that’s not a good format for communicating with other internal stakeholders and crew. Once the scope is signed off, I develop a production plan doc and daily call sheets that dynamically link to parts of my workbook (this is a native feature in Google Docs, idk if this is possible in other tools). This provides the final roadmap for executing all of the production on location.

Hopefully this post provides a helpful look at how I approach using video for event marketing, both from a strategic content marketing perspective (what videos to make) and from the production management perspective (how do we make those videos). It’s an expansive topic and it can be really challenging just figuring out where to start. This framework has helped me develop video marketing campaigns for events big and small without going completely insane and I hope it can do the same for you.

Lastly, I wanted to reiterate my note from up top. What’s not written here could probably fill a small book and if you have questions about what I’ve written (or not), please give me a shout: ian@ianservin.com via email and @iservin on Twitter.

By Ian Servin

I help brands and creatives make better marketing videos. Also an Emergency Management graduate student at Georgetown and a certified private pilot.