Conferences and events are a great way to raise brand awareness, launch a new product or service, or to connect with potential new customers. But preparing for them is not as simple as booking a stand or ticket and turning up on the day. Leads don’t just materialise! So you’ll have to work on a communication strategy that ensures you capitalise on your investment. This blog post will talk you through some of the things you should consider in 10 steps.
1. Know why you are hosting or attending the event. First and foremost, decide what the value of the event is and ensure you are hosting or attending for the right reasons. If you are just going because the business always has, or because it’s a bit of a jolly (everyone wants to go to that conference in Barcelona!) chances are you might be wasting your money. Can you really afford to do that? What is the impact of taking your staff out of your business for the day? Is the expected ROI going to make it worthwhile?
2. Set clear objectives. What are your objectives for the day(s)? Is it to meet a certain client or prospect? Are you launching a new brand or campaign? What do you what to achieve and how will you measure success? This is easy if you are selling a product but needs more consideration if you are promoting your brand or trying to generate leads.
3. Know your audience. Who’s attending? Who will you be inviting? Can you get a delegate list if it’s a trade show/conference? Which of your key clients or prospects will be there? Have you called them or sent them an e-mail to let them know you will be attending? Have you organised to meet them for a chat over a coffee or glass of wine?
4. Have a clear message. What do you want people to remember about you? If you are doing a speech what will the audience care about? Try to make the talk interesting by using visuals and examples. Don’t just read off the screen and make sure you do not go over your allocated time! Be prepared and allow time for questions. If you have a stand are the people manning it your best sales people? Do they know your business inside out and know your message?
5. Expect the unexpected. It’s an event so things can go wrong. If the key speaker is suddenly taken ill can someone else deliver that presentation? If you are prepared and have done your research you are less likely to get caught off guard.
6. Know your logistics. This sounds obvious but make sure you and all the other attendees know where they need to be and when. Make sure you allow time for transport delays. Ensure you have everything you need for your stand. Don’t forget the charger for the laptop and find you can’t run the presentation you’ve spent ages working on! If I’m managing an event, I like to provide everyone attending with a detailed document which covers all of the above in advance. It ensures everyone there knows where they are going, what their message is and what they are trying to achieve from the day.
7. Be clear on your communication channels. Are you taking a presentation? Expert views, case studies, give-aways? What is most relevant for the type of event?
8. Get social: Are you using social media prior to the event to build up interest? Have you posted on LinkedIn? Is there a Twitter hashtag for the event to get your Tweets noticed? Are you sending out live Tweets on the day? If not why not?
9. Review and measure success. Did you met the objectives you set at the start? Is the event going to be worth doing again? What are the lessons learnt for next time?
10. Follow up. It is essential that you follow up and track any leads made. Have you LinkedIn with the prospects you met? Have you added them to your mailing list (with permission)? Are you tracking the leads so you can see when they turn into a sale?
Finally, enjoy yourself and, when the event is finished, give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy a large glass of wine. You deserve it!
Samantha Rumens, Co-founder, Marketing Pace
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