Attending conferences can be significant, yet worthwhile, investments for companies of all sizes. They provide opportunities to increase brand awareness, speak with industry influencers, engage in sales conversations, present products during demo sessions and much more.
For many fast-growing companies, trade shows and conferences can become a free-wheeling affair, with executives deciding last-minute that they should attend a conference, sponsor a booth or present a demo, leading to a complete lack of preparedness, tight or constantly changing marketing budgets and no clear business objectives.
To maximize the ROI of the conferences you do attend, here are a few things to consider:
How many conferences do you want to attend each year? As you gauge potential targets, look at previous years’ attendees—journalists, analysts, keynotes, competitors, other companies in the space. Are there reporters or analysts with whom you may want to pitch or speak? Are there potential clients you want to engage in sales conversations? Develop a running list each year to ensure you don’t miss high-impact conferences. They can sneak up on you!
What kind of conference is it? Will it have large numbers of potential clients? Competitors? Is it simply an information-sharing session?
What level of participation do you want? Conferences offer plenty of paid opportunities: sponsorships, videos, demos, booths, etc. Decide how much you’re willing to spend, but don’t pour every dollar of your conference budget into one show. We can practically guarantee it won’t provide the ROI you’re looking for.
What is your ultimate objective? Are you laying the groundwork for sales? Trying to increase awareness among industry influencers? Demoing a new product to drive leads? Learning about a new industry trend or subject? Just networking? Develop extremely targeted goals and determine how you’re going to measure them. This will help justify more budget for additional participation in shows in later years.
Which team members will you send? You don’t want to send sales reps to a conference with no potential customers. Determine the types of sessions and conversations the conference will feature, and decide the best mix of staff to attend.
Once you’ve answered the above questions, create a framework for engagement while at the conference. This maximizes your brand presence throughout the conference, can provide opportunities to network when it’s over and lets your current followers know what you’re up to. Here are a few best practices:
Actively follow the event hashtag.Start using it before the conference starts to bolster your presence ahead of time and engage with other accounts that are also using the hashtag.
Use the conference time to soak up as much information as possible, but take a few minutes each day to update your platforms. Tagging other attendees, sharing speakers’ content and engaging with conversations around the event will increase your presence at the conference.
Take plenty of photos to incorporate into your content calendar after the conference.
This is a lot to remember while at a buzzing event, so if you need help creating your conference plan, we’ve got you covered. Give us a call.