According to Karin Ingram of Kwik Kopy – which designs and prints a range of materials for businesses including conference materials, banners and signage – suggested that there are five core components to delivering a strong return on investment on any conference or exhibit.
1. A strong, well-considered plan
“Plan for the conference well in advance to get everything ready, especially your marketing strategy. You’ll want plenty of time to reduce the logistical headaches of running or participating in a conference and make the most out of the experience,” Ms Ingram said.
2. Get your brand out there
Ensuring a business generates positive returns from a conference or expo requires a strong brand image.
Ms Ingram suggested that it can be all too easy to get lost among the crowd, meaning that strong visibility is a must.
“Make sure you are maximising the opportunity by developing signage, posters and collateral that gets your brand and message out there,” she said.
“Also consider other options for gaining visibility. Sign up as a presenter, facilitate a session or join a committee. If you’re attending rather than hosting, contact the conference organiser directly to ask about any possible opportunities. Having a more visible role outside of just your stand sets you apart from the crowd.”
3. Get snap happy
Social media and smartphones provide a great opportunity to have others promote your brand for you.
“Consider having a media wall to encourage attendees to take photos at the conference with your branding in view. You can post the photos on social media including Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter with your #hashtag or send personalised photos with a thank you note to all attendees,” she said.
4. Leverage social media
Speaking of social media, it can be a nightmare to manage all the various accounts and platforms now available.
But social media management tools like Hootsuite can be useful to help schedule posts consistently across multiple or various platforms, and at regular intervals throughout the day.
“Also, paid ads are more important than ever to boost your presence on your audience’s social feeds,” Ms Ingram said.
5. Consider using video
While a picture may tell a thousand words, videos are an increasingly popular and shareable format to portray key messaging in a short period of time.
“Think about having a videographer at your conference to create compelling videos such as a quick three-minute video summary of your event, which includes highlights and interviews with attendees and speakers, or short vox pops throughout the event,” said Ms Ingram.
“You can share videos as a follow-up to the event or to promote the following year’s event.”
6. Don’t forget to follow up with leads
The obvious point of a conference or trade show is to drum up new customers. But it is a mistake to focus solely on the guaranteed sales at the expense of other new contacts made.
“You have a goldmine of follow-up information to send out to strengthen the relationship with your leads. Straight after the conference, send a polite email to every lead,” Ms Ingram suggested.
“Instead of just an email blast, send a customised email mentioning specifics from your conversation. This is also the time to send personalised photos you took with thank you notes.
“Make sure to also connect with all your new leads on LinkedIn to further strengthen your professional relationship. By making the most out of the conference, your business can bolster its brand awareness with your target audience and put itself ahead of the competition.”