Lessons Learned: How to Successfully Market Yourself at Conferences
Marketing is all about making connections. Conferences are a great way to meet all of the right people, position your brand, and build relationships. While the majority of us attend conferences with the idea of “generating business” at conferences, only a select few have an active game plan on how best to achieve their goals.
Having attended, showcased and worked alongside some of the leading conferences in Malta and around Europe, we have gained first-hand experience on how to actually maximise your impact at conferences and get results.
Our CEO Josh O’Cock sat down with Jessica from Bloxlive at SiGMA 2018, a leading iGaming conference which was promoted by Growth Gurus, on how to stand out and be successful in marketing your business at conferences.
Tackle any conference you attend or exhibit at with a purpose. What are you aiming to achieve? What would you like to learn? Who do you want to meet?
Stepping into a buzzing conference hall filled with interesting people with no real plan, and hoping to generate new business is setting yourself up for failure. Set goals, write them down somewhere and cross them off one by one. If you’re going as a team, make sure you’re all on the same page.
Be Confident in Starting Conversations
Don’t expect other conference attendees to come and speak to you. Find opportunities to start conversations. Your conference goals should be connected to your overall business strategy. I like to sometimes wear an item of clothing or accessory with a bit of extra flair that stands out and is easy to remember and works as a great conversation starter.
Understand Your Audience
Whilst remembering why you’re there and being focused on your goals, it’s really important to understand your target audience. Questions you should be asking yourself include:
- How can we give value to our customers or potential customers?
- What pain points can we solve for them?
- Why should they be interested in our business?
Be creative in getting people’s’ attention, reeling them in and then engaging with them! Notepads, sunglasses, coffee mugs, glasses, these are just some of the branded items you will see stands giving away in an attempt to start a conversation or get your contact details. It’s not just giveaways that can be used to capture attention, businesses will set up sofa’s offer free beer and go all out with a cocktail bar to get you to their area.
Getting people to notice you is the first step. Once you’ve got their attention – take the opportunity to communicate how you can be of value to them with a bold, and succinct elevator pitch.
Use social media to amplify your reach and extend the impact of being at the conference to a wider and global audience. Capture the moment, create great content, connect with people and make sure everyone who needs to know knows that you were present at the conference.
Don’t take a blanket approach to social media. Use different platforms for different objectives strategies and types of content. Use Instagram to showcase a behind the scenes look of all your work at the Conference, and Linkedin to promote yourself and your services in a more corporate setting.
Bonus Tip 1: Have LinkedIn App Installed and Signed in on your Phone
If you haven’t done this already, download the LinkedIn app right away and login. This is one of the best and easiest ways to connect with people —I find that people sometimes prefer to connect on LinkedIn over exchanging business cards.
Bonus Tip 2: Always Have a Fully-Charged Power Bank
We can send people to the moon, but we can’t invent mobile phone batteries that don’t die. Don’t miss out on any important connections, opportunities to engage on social media, or invitations to parties by having no battery in your phone.
Do Your Homework
There’s nothing worse than being under-prepared! Preparation should not start in the cab on your way to the show. Make sure you do your homework.
Time is a hot commodity at conferences, especially for the BNOCs and keynote speakers. If you plan on approaching someone for the first time, follow them on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn to give them a heads up. That personal touch can go a long way in a crowded conference hall.
Pre-Schedule Your Meetings
Try and schedule all of your important meetings ahead of the conference. Personally, I avoid scheduling meetings too early in the morning as there are often delays in setting up or conference after parties the night before.
Clear Out Your Calendar
Another tip that might sound obvious but is often forgotten, clear out your “regular” work calendar and commitments as much as possible to allow you to focus on maximising the conference.
Don’t be that guy stuck to their phone trying to sort out office emails and missing out opportunities.
Create Evergreen Content
Conferences are a great way to fill your editorial calendar with juicy and industry-specific content that won’t grow old quickly. This will keep your social media channels fresh too.
Divide and Conquer
If you’re going to the conference with teammates, you can divide and conquer to have even more impact. Add your meetings to a shared calendar and sync it on your smartphone.
Know which talks or conferences you want to attend. The SiGMA Startup Pitch was one that I wasn’t going to miss! I pre-arranged to have cover for our stand for that time to ensure I could watch it.
Be human and build real relationships
People want to do business with people. Know when to let your hair down and relax. Have depth in your conversation. Understand your brand and be professional but show personality through your conversations at the show and also all of your content across your social media channels.
Listen, and don’t always speak about yourself. You must also know when to tweak your approach depending on who you are speaking to but always be true to your brand and recognisable as who you are.
There you have it, my essential guide on how to maximise impact at your next conference. Oh and don’t forget to attend all the social events outside of the conference. Don’t let exhaustion take control of you. Conference afterparties are great for networking and striking deals with like-minded individuals.
Take time to plan out your conferences in 2019 and the preparation needed to ensure you successfully leave each conference with new connections and deals in the pipeline.