Does your 2008 plan include events to attend? And I mean those industry events everyone attends and for which you need to pack your bags and travel, not virtual trade shows or seminars. Well, my company’s includes quite a few, about 7 this year or maybe more. While planning these events, I have spoken to organizer, our own team, others who have attended such events and have come to quite a few conclusions that I thought I could share.
First of all, let’s start with the type of event you’ll be dealing with. There are two major ones: those dedicated to exhibiting and those dedicated to networking. While the approach is different, most have speaking opportunities and sponsorship packages. You can run into a never-ending list of patter combinations, mixing conferences, exhibition halls, workshops and one on one meetings. Add some spicy parties and you have it all.
Always keep in mind why you are attending
You can find press representatives, potential partners, potential customers and the competition at such events. If you’re there to “gather intel”, than you should be everywhere, listen to everything and see all new cool toys being displayed. If you’re there to network, then don’t put to much effort into your exhibition booth, you won’t be there much anyway. You’ll be busy holding presentations, meeting people and talking to them. If you’re there to catch the eye of the end-user, have a cool booth, contests, and focus on driving them to your booth rather than attending conferences or seeing other companies.
If you’re there for the awareness; want to be a sponsor, speak and promote your product, keep one thing in mind though: some events require you to be an exhibitor before even thinking to sponsor anything. It sucks, but there’s always the option of getting the minimum accepted exhibition space. Don’t waste your time on the booth if your sponsorship requires you to create buzz around a different section of the exhibiting hall.
Don’t Expect the Organizers to Promote Their Event to You
For some reason, probably the fact that everybody chooses the famous event and they all want to be there, there are organizers that aren’t doing much to get your money. If you’re not coming, someone else is. They send out short replies that don’t always contain all the information you had hoped for. Don’t take it the wrong way, the information is there, if you search their site long enough, to see who’s attending, how many of those attending in the past are coming again. You can also use a search engine or go through press archives to see how they covered the event in question.
Ask Millions of Questions
This conclusion is the logical result of the one above. If you don’t ask, they don’t always tell. So make sure you ask all the questions you can think of, as the vast majority of answers will translate in advantages and benefits, if you put them to good use. Ask about the magazines and news papers they are thinking to invite, or for a list of participants, sometimes it might be available a few days before the event. This will help you let the journalists in question know you’re coming and have something interesting to say and to plan all the meetings you’d like to book.
If you’d like to do something, but it’s not on their list, ask anyhow. If they’re smart and you have a great idea, they might help you put it into practice. Besides, if there’s no rule against something, that means it might be possible to do it. You can later negotiate conditions
I am sure many of you have encountered similar issues in your activity. What would you add to my list? What conclusions have you reached that might help others better plan and benefit from their attendance?