Content marketing just got taken to a whole new level. The organizers of the Inbound Marketing Summit recently announced a 'Pay What You Wish' program for their summer event in San Francisco that will bring together a number of inbound marketing experts for two days of knowledge-sharing.
Inbound Marketing Summit = Inbound Pricing
There are similar “pay or donate-what-you-like” models at restaurants like Panera, at museums, and even among musicians (remember Radiohead’s “In Rainbows”?), but rarely have we seen something like this at a public, hosted business event like the Inbound Marketing Summit. Sure, super-exclusive, executive-only events that have a single sponsor wooing a short list of potential buyers might do this - but the IMS is an event for hundreds of marketers from companies all shapes and sizes. Applying this perceived value-based pricing model to a large event is a pretty bold experiment.
And yet, I can't fail to think of how well this ties into the concepts behind Inbound Marketing.
As we know, the rules of traditional marketing have completely changed. The focus used to be on pushing your message out to a mass of people in hopes they would take action and purchase your product. In our new marketing reality, the marketer’s focus has shifted to creating, discussing and sharing diverse, high quality content aimed at converting prospects into customers and customers into advocates. If this is the world we live in now, then why not offer a pricing model that is based on the inbound concept?
What is the value of IMS Content?
After hearing about the experiment, I talked with our friends at IMS (full disclosure: HubSpot is an event partner), and asked what else was changing since this seemed risky for an events company. The interesting news is that nothing else is really changing - the event is still sponsor funded so IMS can continue to provide breakfast, lunch and a great venue, but they will forgo some ticket profits.
So far, several registrants have knowingly continued to pay 'full fare' for the content. That's a nice validation of the event. We won't know how it goes till the event is over - but, could this be a way for events to innovate and find creative ways to gather even larger numbers of people to share and discuss content - ultimately driving even greater value for sponsors and the attendees themselves?
How much content 'should' you give away for free?
Marketers new to inbound often struggle to find the balance between giving away 'too much intellectual property (IP)' in their content and giving away so little that they cannot be found online. There is a lot of fear of giving away your valuable ideas - but the reward is pretty immense. Inbound marketers generate leads at a 60% lower cost per lead using content ... and we have yet to hear of a situation that someone gave away so much that a competitor copied them or a potential customer didn't need them anymore.
In the case of IMS, while you get to decide the price you would like to pay for the content, the value of face to face interaction, the excitement of being among expert and peer marketers along with hosted meals is bound to elicit a lot of paying attendees.