Conference marketing – on premise and off – 5 winning strategies that drive leads
We know you invest a lot in your conference participation. From booth development and construction, collateral and giveaways, to the staff sent to man it, a conference is no light commitment. Yet so many times up and down the aisles of conferences big and small, there are the winners – with people lined up to see what it’s all about, and the ones that miss the mark – booth managers sitting dejected behind a dish chock full of give-away pencils.
It’s not always about the product or service at hand. You wouldn’t be at the conference if the topic missed the mark, and people generally don’t go to conferences unless they have an interest in or work in the industry or subject being presented. Therefor we will factor that there is an inherent relevance. Attendees have some level of interest in your offering and you have some level of interest in speaking with them.
So why does it go downhill from there? There are 5 key, easy to identify challenges which many managers find hard to overcome. We’ve provided the strategies that will help you make your conference participation worth the effort.
How to fix it: Get the list of attendees ahead of time, send a personal note (postcard, email or letter); PIXEL (cookie) the email or landing page of the promoted website where people will go to get more information, and add those individuals to a remarketing campaign counting down the weeks/days to the event. Reaching folks digitally is a great way to stay in front of them with your brand in a fun, consistent way so when they get to the conference, they have instant recognition of who you are and what you do, because of course, you will have read item #2 to reinforce this.
Include a special offer so if they stop by your booth and have the secret code – they get something unique or useful. One of my favorite uses of this tactic was a group who sent out actual invitations prior to the conference, including a branded coffee mug. In the letter, they asked prospects to come by their booth and meet with them to pick up the coffee to go with it (a $10 Starbucks card). Bribery? Maybe – but it worked, and people responded. Remember the theory of inherent relevance. Plus, you control who gets these special offers, tailor them to the industry, have fun with them or make it practical.
Is there a conference app? Most conferences are implementing conference apps like SummitSync to help conference goers network and communicate before the conference, during the conference and to stay connected after. Use it! SummitSync is a social app for conference goers. You can quickly identify who you want to connect with, make appointments to meet and broaden your network, maximizing your time in attendance.
Use Lists. Have a check off list for everything you need to take, pull everything together a week prior and make sure you know the shipping dates and policies for the event;
Have a calendar – set dates to complete you pre-marketing efforts; your pre-booked appointments, travel times and post event follow up activities. Treat it all as if it was a very important meeting, and you can’t miss any of them.
How to fix it: ALWAYS put your best foot forward. Anything less and people will judge you for it. Invest in the best booth you can, make sure your collateral is up to date or don’t use it – offer an online version instead, organize what you need days ahead – do a mock set up to see how it all looks, and train your people! Give them talking points, arm them with samples, role play and ask challenging questions. Make sure your message and brand are familiar to attendees by following the tactics in #1 and repeat that message throughout the conference.
Reinforce that message by geotargeting the conference center and all the hotels within a logical 1-10 mile radius, and follow up your branding message with digital marketing to targets in the comfort of their hotel room or over dinner in a nearby restaurant. Put out a NEW special offer to get them to stop by – maybe a conference survival pack with chocolate, water, extra coffee, and some cozy socks for weary feet at the end of a long day. Put your spin on it but make it meaningful. Have people register online for the goody pack and come by the booth to pick it up – that way you have prospect information being collected even while you are hitting the gym off hours.
How to Fix it: If you’ve done your homework from items #1 & 2 and planted a few seeds, even set up some pre-determined meetings, you’ll have people lining up to see what all the fuss is about. Promote designated times for demonstrations; don’t fall for gimmicks – I once had my photo taken with Cinderella at a health conference – I had absolutely no interaction with the booth who sponsored her – just stood there taking up their booth space saying “Cheese” – Gimmicks might get people to your booth – but not the right people. Instead offer live demos, compelling video on a big screen of people using your product or service and making their lives better because of it, or a Q&A session with the founder or inventor, developer, family, CEO or best client. Better yet – brand yourself ahead of time with special invites to have a personal demonstration or meeting.
How to Fix it: For every business card collected have a next step identified – is it a call to discuss? – set a day and time as you collect the card, or is it a referral to someone in your organization – send an email intro in the moment. Identify the specific follow up activity for each lead or prospect and assign a deadline. Prioritize. Follow up with the most pressing and most relevant leads first. Delegate. If you have the support, delegate unqualified leads to someone else. In addition, do broad follow up to the list of attendees, reach back out digitally and retarget prospects who ended up opening an email or going to your website, use the conference app to check back in with connections and make the most of your time and budget by not missing a moment to do business with the people you deemed worthy to spend your time with.
How to fix it: There’s no reason for this. Today’s technology allows for easier tracking than ever. Most CRMs provide features to identify leads with source codes. Digital campaigns can be tracked and funneled into your pipeline with campaign codes and even if you are working with simple excel spreadsheets – add a column identifying your lead source. Follow the dollars. Use the data to justify your expense in both materials and time.
Simple improvements in each of these areas will help you shine at your next conference, have a deeper understanding of the impact you are having on your bottom line and make it easier and less stressful as you drive more qualified leads. For more information about geotargeting and retargeting, give us a call today. Enradius 800-838-1184.
Continuing the discussion on keeping it relevant in marketing in order to engage with your target audience, and the demand in the marketplace for everything curated.
When we look across the digital market we see something for everyone – an entire universe of information, products and services. We can search for anything. A-ny-thing.
Digital has also given marketers the ability to layer data to reach individuals who most closely match ideal customers. Add to that today’s mobile environment, and we have the ability to geographically target in real time. This is pretty exciting stuff.
What does that mean to a consumer? Ads that are meaningful to one’s interests and needs that enhance the online experience. What does that mean to a marketer? It means effective CPMs with a higher level of engagement. It’s all based on relevancy to the receiver.
In a market where everything from razors to music, news feeds, entertainment, groceries, and fashion accessories can be served up in a curated fashion, subscribed to for convenience and novelty (such as Nature Box and Amazon Pantry,) we need to think of marketing messages in the same way. No longer are marketers beholden to the red car approach to marketing. (The approach that you keep putting your ad out there in the hopes that when a person is ready to buy a new red car, that your ad then become relevant, and registers with that consumer. The same thing applies to homes, mattresses, sofas, legal services, etc.)
We’re not talking about branding, that’s a whole different conversation. We’re talking about calls to action with intent to purchase, or sign up, or engage. Products or services that meet a specific need. Some, like razors and groceries, are consumable, some like mattresses and cars, are big ticket items, and some like Netflix and Pandora are services.
Really, any product or service can benefit from a curated approach to advertising. Put your message in front of the people with whom it will most soundly resonate. This requires knowing your audience.
In the decades before digital, marketers relied on print, radio and TV which could segment audiences based on program, broad viewership or subscription base, and readership/viewership, survey-based demographics.
What’s changed is the ability to identify a viewer’s preferences across multiple categories and narrower geo-locations. So ads for a restaurant more than 30 miles away don’t muddy the online experience of an individual without a car. Or ads for a vision center don’t get lost on a person who doesn’t wear glasses.
Essentially, what we are talking about is digital ad curation. Ads that reach you based on your wants or needs, even the ones you didn’t realize you had, because of your digital profile. This is where profiling is a good thing! Ads that have meaning for the viewer, and a higher rate of engagement for the advertiser. Is it a hit all the time? Of course not, but the odds have definitely improved.
In magazines, the good ones anyway, the advertisements have long been regarded to add to the overall experience of the reader. This has been documented by many reader surveys, and part of what drives ads into this medium. We read a fashion magazine, and we pour over the ads by Calvin Klein, DKNY, and Prada. We appreciate the aesthetic and trend indicators they represent. Or the ads that offer up details about new products in skin care. For the most part the ads add to and improve the readers’ experience. This is in direct proportion to their relevancy to the readers’ interests.
Why is this? The content is specific to a topic, it’s a fashion magazine. The same principle applies to a travel magazine with ads for an exotic vacation or ads for an airline, luggage, travel guides, and resort wear. A business or news magazine will offer up corporate real estate, legal advice and banking. This is a simplified view but the advertisers who support topic specific magazines know that they are in good company within the pages to serve up information to readers who meet a defined demographic. And the readers place a value on the ads as enhancing their experience.
The more specific the topic, like bicycling or gardening, the more companies that service these interests can expect to engage with the readers. This gets more difficult to determine the broader the topics, like the news, or the weather. And it’s limiting to big brands at a national level or to some local zoned ads in the back of the book. Or complicated national ad buys across local networked (or not) publications. The same can be said pretty much for radio and TV, which generally have broader market demographics.
But in digital, and this is where it gets interesting, we not only have the very specific “readership” and “viewership” topics like fashion or sports, we have many data layers at our disposal for those who choose to play the game. We can target specific demographics of consumers as they take in the news and check the weather online as well as in topic specific websites.
It’s like being able to identify the garden magazine reader while they are reading or watching the morning news. We can take all of that topic specific targeting and apply it across the broader information sources. And through the digital ad networks, we can follow that person throughout their online experiences.
Our personal online profiles allow relevant ads to come to us in a seamless flow. Like if we are male or female. So yes fellas – this means no more feminine hygiene ads of any sort disturbing your viewership. And apartment dwellers? No lawn and garden ads required. Deliver these messages to the people who fit the user profile.
Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has made a big show over higher priced devices that “protect” user’s data profiles. But why is that a good thing? Anonymous tracking and data that enhances what I see and experience online is a welcome application in my book. The algorithms that allow for recommended items as I shop, or drive, are also “recommending” advertisements for things in which I have an interest. This ads to my digital experience.
Why marketers should pay attention to this: It’s a natural tendency to want to tell everyone about our business or product, but not everyone cares. Put your marketing budget toward reaching people where you can best engage them. Even with PSA’s (Public Service Announcements) – leverage your impact where it can do the most good!
The current smoking cessation campaigns by the American Legacy Foundation, branded “truth”, running on tv and cable are well done and compelling if even a bit controversial, but over-reached and wasteful. They are hitting households without smokers or youth (for prevention), in prime TV networks that aren’t cheap. Don’t waste foundation money on irrelevant markets. The “truth” campaign is targeting youth, and where do teens spend the most time? On their mobile devices. With teen smoking down to just 7%, as stated on the truth website, put your ego’s away and get smart about your ad spends. (the ad campaign won an Effie award in 2005)1
40 million adult smokers, many living in southern states that are tobacco friendly, are identifiable by geography, and demographics. The CDC’s marketing approach is more effective. Geographically based and across multiple media outlets, including digital. The CDC campaign targets individuals within population sectors that are most likely to smoke, including military and individuals with behavioral health issues that make them prone to the habit. 2
For B2B companies – digital gets even better. Stay tuned as we venture into the B2B sector in the next post of this 5 part series on engagement.
As always – the basic principles of good design, strong creative, and thoughtful execution apply. An ad is only as effective as the set up. A targeted message in a poorly executed package is still a bad ad. Check the phone numbers, make sure your links work, and track it.
Let me know your thoughts on curated ads – and the movement towards digital targeted marketing. It’s a fast changing mobile market and we’re just getting started.