With Memorial Day just around the corner, July 9th is coming up awfully fast. Especially, f you are the person tasked with doing the marketing and organizing your team's attendance to Microsoft's annual worldwide partner conference 'Inspire'.
By now, you have probably booked your flights and hotel rooms and submitted your booth designs for approval if you are exhibiting.
But there is so much more you can do to get your website, blog, and social media ready for the conference. Most companies, that exhibit at a major tradeshow will spend around $25,000 including the cost of the booth, travel expenses, swag and other related costs. As a marketer, it is your job to ensure you get the most out of this important conference.
And if you are wondering what you need to do, don't worry. Here are the five must-do things before you head out:
4-6 Weeks Before: Write About Inspire On Your Blog
Just like you, your prospects and customers are also getting ready to go to Washington, D.C. and they have a lot of questions:
- Which hotels are close to the convention center?
- What should I pack?
- Who on my team should I bring?
- Should I even bother trying to fly with my laptop?
- How can I get some sightseeing or shopping in while I am there?
- What sessions should I attend?
- What is the best way to network and how can I make sure I follow up?
- How can I get in touch with potential leads?
- Are there any meeting rooms I can use?
- Where do I get lunch from?
Just like you, your prospects are also looking for answers. Think about those questions and you can answer some of them on your blog by writing dedicated blog posts, for example:
- 10 Microsoft Inspire Sessions Every [Name of Your Buyer Persona] Should Attend
- How To Prepare For The Microsoft Inspire Partner Conference Like A Pro
- 5 Tips For Microsoft Inspire Attendees (if you are indeed local and you know the area)
- How To Justify Attending Microsoft Inspire To Your Boss
A great example is Juriba's blog: Last year, the Microsoft Gold Partner wrote about how to prepare for a technology conference, sessions you shouldn't miss (screenshot blow), and things you should do before flying out.
You get the idea. Don't pitch your products or your company, just be helpful. But being helpful doesn't mean you can't include a nice little prompt on the bottom to meet up with you or visit your booth at the conference!
Don't pitch your products or your company, just be helpful. But being helpful doesn't mean you can't include a nice little prompt on the bottom to meet up with you or visit your booth at the conference!
4-6 Weeks Before: Have A Plan For Following Up After The Conference
As you probably know, Microsoft provides to all sponsors and exhibitors a scanning device that allows you to easily and efficiently capture your visitor's information. Even though you will get a list of names and email addresses, you will need a plan to follow-up with everyone. Think of this before you determine which questions you should ask in the form. Is there a way you can segment your lists to better target your communication after the event?
A little tip from Networking Pro, Scott Eisenberg from Swap the Biz: If you have a personal conversation with someone make sure to write down a little note on their business card that will later spark your memory. For example, if you complimented someone on their shoes or you talked about their upcoming trip to Kenya, make sure to write that down. This way, you can relate that fact to them when you follow up, e.g., "I hope you had a great time in Kenya last week! Did you get a chance to go on that safari after all"? This immediately creates a personal connection.
(On that note: Make sure, your business cards are not laminated as it is difficult to write on them and a lot of people add comments to the business cards they receive!)
4 Weeks Before: Start Promoting Your Session Or Booth Number
Are you presenting or have a booth? Great! However, getting the attention of people on a crowded and loaded exhibition floor is difficult — even if you have a great location.
So, be sure to promote your sessions and booth number as much as you can. For example, you can
- Include a call-to-action in your email signature a month before
- Add call-to-action buttons under your best-performing blog posts that are relevant to the conference
- Write a promotional, but targeted email to your database letting them know where to find you
- Post about it on social media
- Post it on your events page on your website
Another tip regarding your booth designs: Be consistent! Make sure to use your artwork in your promotional emails, call-to-action buttons, and social media posts to enable your audience to recognize your booth immediately when they see it because they already have seen it a few times.
2 Weeks Before: Get Meetings Scheduled In Advance
Conferences are a great way to reconnect with some of your customers and prospects you haven't met or talked with for a while. They are amazing to rekindle talks or build relationships. But the problem is, once you get there, your schedule gets crazy and you scramble to get any meetings scheduled since everyone's day got equally as busy. So, you really want to make sure, you set up some key meetings up in advance.
While Microsoft provides their own networking and meeting facilitation link, Microsoft Connect, it is always a great idea to think through how your team will be scheduling meetings in advance and during the conference.
For example, if you are a HubSpot Sales Pro user, you could set up a sales sequence utilizing your personal Hubspot meeting links, to schedule meetings ahead of time with some select prospects.
1-2 Weeks Before: Talk About It On Your Social Media
Finally, take a leaf out of Microsoft's marketing playbook and get your prospects and customers excited about your promotional products and of course your attendance:
Your individual posts will depend on who is coming and what you are doing at the conference. For example, if you have a large booth raffling off backpacks with goodies, you will market that differently that if you have hired a caricature artist! Have some fun with it, but make sure
But stay away from hijacking the event's hashtag with spam messages like "Visit us at Booth #1234 at #MSInspire!" every 2 hours. Have something to say, ask questions, or be helpful.
I do hope you find these tips useful and you will implement a few of them in your own marketing. If you have any other tips to share, please feel free to comment below! And if you need help promoting your trade show attendance, click below to schedule a quick call to talk about your goals in more detail: