I dread attending conferences: the last minute scramble, the elevator pitch conversations, never knowing which conversation might lead to a valuable connection or a new opportunity. But we can agree that when it all goes right, it’s a major positive for your brand; one that’s going to stick with you months and even years down the line.
I spent last week in Boston at the HubSpot #INBOUND19 conference, and met some fantastic people doing incredible things. I felt a fresh energy for demand gen, sales, and marketing alignment, and picked up a number of things that I can now take back with me to better serve my team.
When I think about what worked so well, I can narrow it down to five things that kept me focused, interested, and inspired from booth to booth. These five things are common throughout any memorable conference experience, and should exist as the rules you live by if you’re trying to keep people like me (a busy senior marketing leader) wanting to know more.
Here are the five tips I have for standing out from the crowd at every big conference:
1. Know your audience
Yesterday’s marketers relied on their IT departments when they needed to jumpstart, manage, or troubleshoot their tech. Today’s marketers, not so much. We’re more informed and better suited to handle our own technology stack. We know what our problems are, and we know which types of solutions are out there to solve them.
Show me you know your audience. I don’t need an essay about why I need to learn more about your brand; instead, give me a strategic pitch about why your particular offering is better than all the rest. And save the buzzwords—you’ll sound exactly like everyone else on the tradeshow floor. At #Inbound19, the best booth staffers spoke to me like an equal, tailored their pitch to my brand, and spoke with confidence about the most unique aspects of their offerings.
2. Creativity is noticed
Your booth, booth staff, and booth collateral all need to exist in harmony—they’re all an extension of your brand, and will only help demonstrate what makes you and your offering different from the rest. Details are important: your color scheme, assets, and swag are all factors in the success of your execution. Done right, and you’ll capture more attention, get a lot of compliments, and inspire those around you.
Some standout creative elements at #Inbound19 included booth staffers wearing shoes that matched their brand colors (major props to SEMRush), fresh flowers at the table (shout out to Sprout Social), unconventional swag (GoToWebinar’s phone screen wiper was super thoughtful...and made it home to CA, a big hit with all the device screens in my house), branded nail polish (I’m obsessed with Swrve’s green and yellow!), and more.
3. Real-time matters
Three or four days may sound like a long time, but it’s not. Every minute that passes matters. And just because you saw someone once doesn’t mean you’ll have the opportunity to connect with them again.
Make every interaction you have with a conference-goer count. Give a killer demo, one that’s based on the conversation you had with so that it’s tailored to fit their needs. Scan your leads as soon as possible; another moment to do so is never promised. And follow up on specific interests or requests immediately (at-Event wins this category for their #Inbound19 follow-up after I visited their booth). And watching their integration through the other booths at #inbound was a POC that proved itself.
4. Be relevant
The best elevator pitch won’t disguise a thoughtless offer. It’s the same reason you wouldn’t offer a meat-lover’s pizza to a vegetarian; you should only pitch me on something that’s actually relevant to me and my goals. The goal should be to show me how your product works with what I already have.
In martech, pretty much everything needs to integrate with HubSpot, LinkedIn, Salesforce, and other popular solutions. If you’re not compatible with those platforms, and you’re still trying to win me over, you’re wasting time for both of us. The best conversations I had at #INBOUND19 showed me exactly how I’d benefit from using their product.
5. Plan ahead and download the mobile app
Conferences can be one big blur. That’s why it really pays to plan ahead, and make a clear itinerary for yourself while you’re there. That way, you’re not missing out on any of the best sessions, workshops, or opportunities to meet and hear from the biggest leaders and decision makers in the room.
It becomes much easier to make the most of opportunities in real time if you’re able to anticipate and plan for certain outcomes prior to being there. Every conference and tradeshow posts their agenda online ahead of time. Interactive conference apps are growing in popularity—they’re great for helping you RSVP, plan out (and remember) exactly how you’ll spend each day.
And if you attend the wrong session and meet a fellow Vermonter; make sure to say hello (SharkNinja).
We are in a world where customer engagement is every marketers challenge. All of these tips are exactly what Swrve allows marketers to do for their customer engagement: 1. know and understand their audiences, 2. Add rich, standout creativity to their messaging, 3. deliver relevant, meaningful interactions in real time, and 4. anticipate customer behaviors that they can plan for and act on across mobile, web, email, and more.