Make the most of your conference attendance.
Conferences and trade shows are popular ways of marketing your products and attract attention to your business. They're also great places to expose your organization to key people in your industry.
Do you ever attend conferences for your company? If so, you know that the impression you make on others can stay with them for a long time. That's precisely why you should prepare for a conference carefully – before you attend.
Your role at a conference can vary. You may be an attendee, you may have a company booth to exhibit products or services, or you may even be a speaker. Regardless of your involvement, you must do a lot more than simply show up and wait for new business opportunities to come to you.
With careful planning, you can get the most out of your investment in the conference, and make the most out of every potential business opportunity.
What do you hope to achieve by participating in the event? Are you:
When you know your goal, it's much easier to focus your attention in the right places. Make sure you link your conference objectives to overall company strategy.
What can you afford to spend? This is an important pre-conference consideration: these events can use up marketing budgets very quickly. When you know what you can spend, you'll be able to customize your exhibit and other marketing materials accordingly. Consider the following promotional materials:
Let your key customers know that you'll attend the conference or trade show.
This step is often overlooked. The leads generated from conferences are already highly qualified. Make sure you know how you'll deal with each contact. Enter all names into a database, and assign someone to follow up immediately after you return to the office.
Also, have a system to deal with direct sales at the conference. It's important to have someone back at the office to process such requests.
Know who else will attend the event, and develop a plan to talk to key representatives. Whether you're an exhibitor or an attendee, you may want to talk with speakers, contact industry leaders, and network with many other people to make the most of your time at the conference.
"Impression" management is key to a successful conference. You're essentially on display for everyone to see, so make a good impression and be a good ambassador for your organization.
Be prepared for any question. Familiarize yourself with new developments, research topics on the conference agenda, and understand how your organization fits into the industry.
If you're at an evening event, make sure you don't overindulge in food or wine – it's easy to do this if you're nervous, and you'll create a bad impression if you do.
You're there to sell and effectively represent your organization. You must show high energy and high motivation at all times.
When the conference is over, you and your team will probably be exhausted and just want to relax. Unfortunately, that has to come later. The days immediately after the event are critical for following up on leads.
As a team, discuss the most promising leads, and develop a plan to follow up with the key contacts for each. Track your progress, and record each step that you take.
Investigate opportunities that you may have discovered at the conference. Are there new developments, trends, or industry challenges that you must address?
Use figures like these:
After the event is also a great time to assess your performance and identify ways to improve. Here are elements to consider:
This is a great way to be more involved in setting the agenda, determining the theme of the event, and making sure your organization's involvement fits well.
Conferences, and others events that bring industry professionals together, are great places to generate highly qualified leads and develop your presence among your customer base. To be successful at these events – whether you're attending, exhibiting, or presenting – keep in mind one important rule: watch your words and actions at all times, because you're being watched at all times
These events are wonderful marketing tools. To make the most of your investment, plan your objectives up front, then be an excellent networker and ambassador to ensure that you leave the right impression.
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