When your business scores a booth at your next conference or trade show, you have an exciting opportunity to network and form partnerships face-to-face. In an age where marketing is becoming increasingly digital, these in-person interactions really stand out. Take advantage of this opportunity by providing everyone you meet with reasons to follow up with you after the conference. The way you conduct your booth, and the next steps you take with each person, can set your business up for a profitable year after the conference concludes.
Brief your team on goals.
Before the conference opens, talk to each member of your team that will be at the booth. Who are you looking to meet at the conference? What specific people (including people who hold specific job titles or work in specific industries) do you want to make lasting connections with? What do you want each member to communicate, and how can you keep this message consistent? If attendees meet multiple team members and hear similar sentiments, they are more likely to remember your message and remember your business after the conference has ended.
Plan for extra networking time.
Some of the best networking opportunities arise in the airport shuttle the next morning or the hotel bar the night before the conference. Keep your business hat on as you are planning your itinerary and try to squeeze in as much networking time as possible. Giving yourself extra time can also encourage your time to get more sleep and rest so they make a positive impression throughout the event.
You aren’t going to boost profits by sticking around with the team members that you are working with at the conference. Have a plan for branching out to strangers and meeting new people at the conference. Be conscious of moments when your team is getting “cliquey” or ignoring relationships with potential partners or customers. There are so many opportunities for your team to make connections; take advantage of them while you can.
Conferences want to generate buzz about the exciting events of the day. Contribute to the conversation before, during, and after the conference. Research any conference-related hashtags and be sure to use them throughout the event to appear on any promotional materials. The more you can share your Twitter handle or Facebook page with conference attendees, the more your name will stick around with people who may need to reach out later.
Display your products for interested attendees.
Put attendees in your customers’ shoes. If you sell physical products, put examples or prototypes on your booth so attendees can interact and see the product. A real-life experience with the product will stick in their minds longer than your team’s testimony about your products. If you offer services, set up an opportunity for free consultations during the conference. Again, these face-to-face interactions are super important for building rapport and standing out from the list of emails and phone calls that attendees will receive after the conference.
Offer goodie bags.
Get the party going with two words: free stuff. Set aside a budget for a bulk order of branded items that you can distribute to conference attendees. (Leftovers can be distributed to your team as a “thank-you” after the conference and to boost morale.) Attendees will probably bring home a haul of free pens, mugs and other promotional items, so make sure you have something worth grabbing as attendees pass your booth or attend events with your company.
What should you offer in your goodie bag? Think about the nature of the conference. The possibilities for creating branded items are endless, so get creative. Will attendees need mints after a long day of sampling food and drink? Will branded notepads and promotional pens help attendees write down all of their ideas during a thought-provoking panel? If you or your employees have attended a similar conference before, ask for advice about the most useful (and memorable) giveaways.
Hold a raffle.
Everyone loves free stuff, but a goodie bag with a hoodie and a mug can eat up your budget quickly. Instead of offering everyone a medium-size prize for visiting your booth, keep your goodie bags small and offer a big prize at the end of the conference. Get a branded sweatshirt or larger item that attendees will want. Raffle signups don’t have to ask for more than a name and an email, but this simple gesture can generate a list of people to follow up with after the conference. Even if the person doesn’t win your big prize, you can still strike up a conversation about the events and let them know you are ready to talk business.
Want to learn more about putting your name on the products that everyone will be talking about at the conference? Reach out to Promote It!