Once you’ve made the investment to attend a conference, there’s no turning back. We’ve all been to events where we’ve seen booths that are packed with traffic…..and those that are empty with staff standing around chatting only to each other. The problem is, if you end up in one of those latter booths, your wasting a lot of marketing dollars and sales people’s time. So how can you ensure success at conferences and trade shows? Besides not being occupied on your phone or eating your breakfast/lunch in the booth, here are a few of our tips to boost your company’s conference ROI:
It sounds like common sense, but….smile! If you seem bored or like you don’t want to be there you are going to have a hard time attracting traffic. Smiles are contagious and make you appear approachable, which is important if you want to have meaningful conversations at the event.
Be a reliable source of information for conference attendees. Make sure you have a solid understanding of conference schedules, locations, and logistics as this positions you as credible and gives you talking points to share with people who stop by. When people have questions about the event, answering them is an automatic ice-breaker and offers positive interactions with attendees. Not only that, if you run into that person later on, you’ll have somewhat of a rapport and feel comfortable chatting with them – and whoever else they might be with.
Don’t forget your business cards. You’d be surprised how many people attend industry events without their business cards. At events, people expect to be given business cards and find that to be an appropriate end to a conversation. It’s critical that you have enough to share with anyone who stops by your booth.
Giveaways/Promotional items. Don’t underestimate the power of freebies at your booth as well. Trade show booths that don’t have goods to hand out are at a serious disadvantage. Many attendees walk the trade show floor to get free stuff – but they know they need to engage with workers at the booths they visit. You can even try offering samples or discounted trials of your product or service to entice people to purchase more in the future. If you’re giving away traditional goods like pens or notepads, make sure they’re well-branded so people remember your company each time they use it. Giving items away creates a reciprocal scenario in which people are more likely to chat with you once they accept what you’re offering.
Keep LinkedIn handy. Once you meet people and engage with them, add them on LinkedIn while the interaction is still fresh. Not only does this allow you to better keep in touch with them, it expands your network so that others might see the content you publish or be open to an introduction if appropriate. Connecting digitally with someone you meet in-person is important because it allows you both to communicate easily in the future – perhaps when it’s the right time for a potential customer to buy from you.
Follow up with leads by planning a digital marketing campaign. Before you even attend the conference you should consider how you will follow up with the prospective clients you meet there. Go into the conference with a plan – how will you create a system that makes it easy for you to collect emails for your digital database? Organize the business cards you receive and take notes to make it easier to send personalized emails after the event. You should also consider an automated email marketing campaign to ensure the leads you generate at the conference are receiving resources, information, and engaging offers from your company on a regular basis well after the event is over. This helps your products or services stay top of mind without you having to manually follow up each week.
In general, follow the same rules you do in everyday interactions: be nice, ask questions about others and actually listen, and try to engage with people as you would hope to be engaged with. If you look open and attentive, are helpful when sharing information and take steps to make sure prospects remember you, you’ll be sure to make great connections and make the most of your conference experience.