Conferences are a powerful channel to use for brand presence and for connecting with customers. Yet, in some cases, the prices associated with sponsoring and exhibiting are prohibitive. So, how does a business “go guerilla” and use conferences when they cannot afford to sponsor or exhibit?
Guerilla Tip #1: Pick the right conferences
This one is easy: Lodescore. Create your free account to access the first and only calendar with scoring and profiling of thousands of conferences, trade shows, and symposia. Search, compare, and save the events that will put you in front of the right audiences.
If you want to really focus your efforts, you can use Lodesight to surface insights and business intelligence that will directly affect your actions and investments.
Guerilla Tip #2: Who should go from your company?
Being present is the key. The Lodestone Insights team has seen companies send employee armies of hundreds and thousands to the largest scientific symposia and tech conferences. Why? Serendipity happens. If you are in the room, you have an opportunity to meet someone or influence a discussion. If you are going guerilla, it is about sending the right people who will actively work the event, get connected to the right people, and create opportunities for follow-up. In many cases, it is better to send employees from R&D and operations then sales folks.
Guerilla Tip #3: Create a tactical plan
Clearly outline your business objectives and then create a tactical plan that will deliver clear and measurable results. Where are your current customers? Are they speaking or do they have posters? If so, who from your team is the right person to be there and make contact? Where are your competitors? What are they talking about? Is there any new knowledge or information that would directly impact your R&D and marketing strategies? Who are the team members that should be focused on your competitors and what you can learn?
If there is an exhibit floor, break it down in to attack zones and assign each zone to one of your team members. Give specific instructions for the types of questions that they should be asking, where to drop off collateral that has been collected, and how to document who was spoken to and any next steps and action items.
Guerilla Tip #4: Pre-schedule meetings
In establishing your tactical plan, identify the key targets that are speaking or the companies that you want to get time with. Do your Google and LinkedIn searches to find contact information; we love the Rapportive Chrome plug-in to help qualify email addresses. Do your reach outs through direct mail, email, or via the phone and ask to schedule a face-to-face meeting while you are at the event.
Guerilla Tip #5: Business cards
We are still strong believer in business cards. Hand out and collect as many as you can. Don’t assume that just because you are a bit loose with sharing your details that others will be as willing. We have found that service providers and product companies welcome the opportunity to swap information. However, businesses that are ‘customer targets’ typically are slower to share. This is where ‘going guerilla’ is to your advantage. You are not standing at a booth waiting for them to wander buy to take a pen or stress ball, you are in the educational sessions with the general attendees. You can strike up a conversation more easily using the context of the session or something that just happened in the room. Use these opportunities to create a rapport and collect as many cards as you can.
We know that attending a conference can be an overwhelming experience. But, if you use these 5 tips for going guerilla, you will achieve a greater ROI than you could have ever imagined. Contact us if you want to hear more about what we know about strategic conference investments.