I’ve recently helped clients prepare for events - as well as doing my fair share on the exhibition floor. If you are planning on attending an event, I hope these tips will help you maximise your impact and get the best return on your investment.
Before the event
- Negotiate: There are usually deals to be had - on the costs of stand space and often special rates for SMEs that aren’t always obvious. You might also be able to get an upgrade to your listing on the event website or show guide.
- Check the agenda for content ideas: Event organisers usually publish the agenda in plenty of time to enable you to produce content that ties in. Is there a topic coming up for debate that you can use to showcase your knowledge? If so, write it in advance and include the Twitter event hashtag in your tweets for maximum coverage.
- Use the event hashtag in advance: The event hashtag is a powerful tool that brings together all the online conversations around the event. Use it when you share your content - it’ll help strengthen your reach to attendees. And don’t forget to build Twitter lists of the speakers, journalists and other key exhibitors attending.
- Flatter a key speaker: Sometimes you want a key speaker to notice you - they might be a prospect or someone who’s endorsement of what you do could be highly beneficial. They’ll be there for a reason - and it’s often to promote a topic they care about. Get on their radar by writing an article that supports their agenda - if that’s something you are comfortable with.
During the event
- Bring your best content together: If the event is centered around a theme where you already have a number of good articles that demonstrate your expertise - produce a branded mini booklet in advance. You can then give them away to people you have good conversations with at the show.
- Tweet breaking news and key quotes: Be the first to share big announcements from speakers. Tweet regularly and keep an eye on the event hashtag. Make friends by sharing other exhibitors news too.
- On-stand etiquette: How you engage with visitors is a big factor in the success you’ll enjoy afterwards - but I’m amazed by the following no-no’s that always seem to happen. Eating on the stand, leaving the stand empty (really welcoming!), conversations with other exhibitors while ignoring visitors. Talking too much, but not listening.
After the event
- Be seen as a commentator on key issues: Be a part of the news by writing a review of the event, be helpful by bringing new developments to your audience. You may have customers and prospects that would benefit from hearing what happened at the show - the post event article is a great way to review key trends, and share what speakers have said. Share it on your social networks.
- Follow-up: Research suggests that we should be prepared to follow up at least six times before a lead converts - so be prepared to make more than one call and have something interesting to send to prospects - your post event article for example. However, please don’t pile all those business cards into your email system and start blasting them - it’s tacky and likely to do more damage than good. And don’t forget the journalists and other exhibitors, particularly if they gave you any media coverage and shared your news.
- Thank your team: Everyone will have worked hard - so a team meal out is a good idea. Employee engagement is good for business and, as Sir Richard Branson says, “look after your people and they’ll look after your customers - it’s as simple as that.” After all, isn’t that what great events are all about?
Ben Wheeler is a Bristol based freelance marketing consultant and content writer working with growing businesses. He also helps clients produce articles for LinkedIn. Follow on Twitter @realbenwheeler LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/benjwheeler