Conferences: Ensure That Your Customers Show Versus Snooze
Conferences and trade shows are nothing new for marketing professionals. They can be a great way for brands to network with current and potential customers as well as interact with peers. However, conferences also require a good deal of preparation, time and money, so if you are investing, it’s critical to prepare a conference presence that will pique visitors’ interest and encourage them to stop and ask questions.
When you’re establishing your goals for the conference (e.g., industry visibility, driving sales, better product understanding through demos, etc.), ensure that they will coincide with creating a welcoming environment for customers.
Here are the top three items to consider when planning for your conference presentation or booth exhibition:
- Content – I’m probably a broken record by now for repeating this statement, but
content is king. If the information you are presenting to your customers does not help them solve a problem or make their lives easier, they won’t be interested. Customers are looking for
solutions like increasing their ROI, engagement and communication efficiency, and therefore, the content presented should make it clear to your customers that working with your company is the business
solution their organization needs to succeed.
- Delivery – While you may have great content to share with your customers, are you
delivering this information in the best way possible? I have attended, and worked, a number of conferences over the years, and some of the most interesting products or services have been lost on me
due to the company’s presentation. Representatives at your booth or serving on your conference panel need to know your product/service like the back of their hand, while at the same time exuding
enthusiasm and passion. Conference representatives should not view this as merely time away from their desks or a required task. They need to take this opportunity to develop customer relationships
that will hopefully drive sales. Dull presenters or representatives that just stand around and talk to each other will not motivate customers to learn more about your brand.
- Interactivity – Conference attendees don’t want to be spoken at or hear a sales pitch and a bunch of industry jargon. As mentioned in the content section above, they want to know how your brand can benefit their business.
The following questions need to be addressed:
- Do your customers simply stand at your conference booth?
- Do you still have the same booth setup from a decade ago?
- Are you relying on PowerPoint slides to tell your story?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, it’s definitely time to revamp your conference approach. Conference attendees want to feel involved and get hands-on with brands to learn more about them. They want an opportunity to use your product (think of the product tables at the Apple Store) or interact in some dynamic way, so involve clients in product demonstrations instead of just having them watch and listen.
For example, at a recent publishing conference, we had clients set up and run a webcast with our self-service tool. Not only did it offer them a way to see how easy our technology was to use, but they could see themselves on camera and share the live webcast link with a friend or colleague who could “see them in action” at the conference. This was much more fun and memorable for a conference attendee than watching slides explaining the product details.
Conference attendees, just like conference presenters, have limited time and budget. Keep this in mind when you are in conference preparation mode and completely focused on maximizing your conference involvement. Present your brand in the most interesting, innovative and interactive way possible to garner the most customer involvement. It also doesn’t hurt to spring for a few takeaway items. Branded USBs anyone?