Survive Your Next Event (From Behind The Booth)

Between networking, session after session, cavernous conference halls, and vendors hawking their wares, conferences can be exhausting. Imagine working one! You're on your feet well before many attendees arrive onto the show floor and there long after and still have to generate leads and inspire customers and prospects. Read on for tips on how to survive from behind the booth:

1. Know Your Audience

Before you even arrive at the airport, you should know everything about the event, especially your audience. Do they fit a specific persona? What types of products will they most likely be interested in? Will they have heard of you? Some questions (beyond logistics) you should know:

  • Who is the type of person attending this event? What title do they hold? What kinds of challenges do they face day-to-day, and how do my products or services fit that challenge?
  • Is someone from my company speaking at this event? When and where?
  • What offerings do you have (a free trial card, a brochure, etc) and are they up to date?
  • What is the schedule and agenda of the conference, and at what times will people be visiting your booth?

2. Participate In The Event

If you're attending a conference about a subject you're interested in, work with your colleagues to attend a few sessions or the keynotes. Doing this is all about communication: look at the agenda ahead of time and commit to sessions you want to attend. Prioritize and go to only those that will make you most effective for your role.

The conference might be set up so that this isn't an issue. At Marketing United, for instance, Emma held one track of sessions in the same hall as the exhibitors, so hanging out at the booth meant there was still a session you could listen to--and take notes.

Participating in the event builds a connection with the people who visit you. "Did you see that keynote? So inspiring!" goes a long way to breaking the ice than just hawking your wares.

3. Be Attentive To Your Customer

Even though you've been practicing your pitch over and over, chances are your customer doesn't care. Before you launch into it, take the time to ask them some questions about what they care about and why they're at the conference. Ask them if they've heard of your company, what problems they're having, and more importantly: listen.

After they've told you their experiences (or their horror stories) work in their examples, names of their teammates, or other details from their life into your pitch. That makes it immediately applicable and relevant to them and their problems.

Above all, be helpful--before you grab their badge to scan it. Take the time if you can to add those same notes and examples into whatever form of lead scanning you're doing. Even though it might not be you following up with that person, your colleague will be armed with much better information.

4. Get Social

Make sure conference attendees know where to find you, especially if you're handing out swag or are part of a session. That can be done from your personal handle or via your company handle, working with your social media manager. With social, the key is to engage those attending the conference without alienating and annoying those who aren't attending (so no livetweeting!) That can be done in a few ways:

1. Teasing The Event Ahead of Time

This can be done from your personal handle--show off how excited you are to attend, and what you're looking forward to the most.

2. Showcasing Your Team and Where To Find You

Don't just take a picture of your booth. Show off your team! Yes, it can be a selfie. Yes, it can be silly, if that's on brand. Just make sure you appear welcoming and fun--that's what events are for! Take a nice picture (no blurriness) and be sure to include your booth number if you have one, and the event hashtag.

3. Adding Key Takeaways or Slides From Your (Or Your Colleagues') Presentation

4. Enhancing Giveaways or Building Contests Into The Event

You can drive traffic to your booth by teasing free giveaways, contests, and more. Or you can kickstart someone's modeling career. (Can't you see I'm totally runway-ready!?)

Don't forget to tag anything event related with the event hashtag so it cuts through the noise.

5. Make The Most Of Your Momentum

You've garnered a ton of new leads, had some great customer conversations, and hopefully been inspired by the conference content. You're tired, but before you hit the after-after party (in the hotel lobby), take a minute to reflect--and write it down.

Whether or not you write up a content-related recap like this one from Inbound or this one from MA Women's Conference, your internal recap should cover:

  • Basic logistics: where was it, when was it, and who hosted it
  • How many leads generated, and how many were qualified (or relevant)
  • What personas or profiles actually spoke to you and what they cared about most
  • What messaging resonated with those people and why
  • What went well, and what didn't (both in terms of your planning and the conferences' planning)
  • Whether or not you felt the conference was well-run, and if it was worth attending again

Share this with your team, but especially with your events manager. This kind of feedback can dramatically change which events teams invest in, and why. (And if it was terrible, should prevent you from attending again!)

Get to relax for your next event as an attendee? Check out my top tips to make the most out of your next event.