How to make the most of a conference on a budget.

October 21, 2019

Nowadays, a big part of growing a company is taking part in conferences related to your business area. This is a great way of listening to insightful talks about topics you may not be familiar with, as well as to get to know other brands and people from the same area as you. Depending on the conference and on your business, this can also be a good opportunity to drum up investment and meet key players who could help you take your business to the next level.

With Web Summit just around the corner, we felt that this was the best time to discuss some of the ways you can maximise your presence.

#1 Check for side events

Many companies that attend conferences don’t want to spend a lot on the event. However, there are always ways of taking part without spending too much.

At big conferences such as Web Summit there are usually endless side events that occur during it, which are often free or much cheaper than the ticket for the conference itself. If you opt to just attend those, you will miss the talks but you can still get the chance to meet other attendees and network with people from the same business area as you.

When looking for side events, you should always check for those in your business area and where you have more chances to meet interesting people. For example, if you work in the field of health, you should try and attend health-related events and maybe skip some of the more generic ones where there is a lower chance of finding a good match for your business.

If you are wondering where you can find such events, there are many ways to do this. The best are platforms such as Eventbrite, Meetup.com and Facebook Events, where you can search for events using the keywords and location.

#2 Be creative

If, however, you don’t want to miss the conference and do want to attend some talks, then there are other ways of saving. Instead of having a booth at the conference, you can buy a normal ticket and be creative with the way you present yourself. That includes creating business cards, choosing the right outfit and creating gifts to distribute to help build brand awareness.

This does not mean you should go crazy and do everything you can possibly think of; rather that you should assess whether you have the budget to create a sweatshirt or T-shirt with your brand aesthetics or should instead invest in good business cards with a killer visual that grabs people’s attention even in the midst of thousands of others.

To make the right decision on which direction to take, you should first assess what you want from the conference. Is it investment? Then maybe you should prepare a stellar elevator pitch and carry business cards to hand out. If you’re looking to create buzz around your brand, then try creating a useful gift and making sure you get noticed. No matter what your goal is, you should think of creative ways to stand out.

#3 Use digital marketing strategies

Another way of standing out during conferences is using digital marketing to promote your presence.

If for example you are hosting a side event, you should definitely invest in social media, with paid ads to make sure that people turn up. With paid ads you can create an audience for your posts that matches the people you want to reach and increase the chances that they see your event.

Digital marketing can also be a great help in promoting your brand while you are at the conference. You can write a post on your blog about your experience or expectations, post on your accounts about what you are up to, or even issue some challenges on social media to get people talking about your brand.

If you have something special planned, you should also make sure that you post about it in advance and promote it accordingly. This means doing some PR, online ads and even videos about it.

#4 Make sure you follow-up

One thing you should keep in mind if you are attending a conference in search of business is that very few deals are made during conferences and what usually makes a difference is what you do once you get back to work.

This means you should not expect too much of people’s time during the event and follow up a few days later to re-introduce yourself and start a conversation. Why? Because during these events there are always thousands of attendees wanting to talk to each other and it is hard to remember each one of them and what they do.

When following up remember to let the people you are addressing know who you are, what your company does and how you can help them or what you expect from them. When doing this, it’s a good idea to schedule a call and start a conversation in that way, rather than explaining everything you want to say in the body of an email.

If you need help promoting your presence at a conference, check out advertio or let us know.

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