Planning Your 2020 Conference Strategy

Ready to crush your 2020 conference strategy? Of course you are; that’s why you’re reading Kapow Insider! But you wouldn’t run a marathon without training first. In the same way, you’re not going to set yourself up for success conference-wise without going into it with a battle plan. If you need a plan to crush your conference, we’ve got you covered. Check out our hottest tips for crafting a perfect conference battle plan below.

Streamlining your conference game

There are lots of reasons to exhibit at a conference. For instance: the 3:1 return on investment that almost half of marketers get from them or the fact that your lead sourcing potential at them can be anywhere from 50 to 100,000. But it’s important to know why you’re going to exhibit at a conference in the first place. In general, you want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s your current brand health: Be honest here—no points for wishful thinking. Is your brand relatively well-known in your field? Relatively unknown? What amount of market saturation have you already achieved? The bigger you are, the more ambitious you can make your conference plan.
  • Why are you exhibiting: Your brand health will inform this. Are you looking to increase your brand awareness? Increase your saturation within the field through lead gen? Nurture your existing relationships? All are valid, but if you don’t know why you’re exhibiting, you might get stuck twisting in the wind.

Once you’ve straightened that out—and only then!—you can begin building your conference case.

Building your 2020 conference case

Once you’ve discovered the “why,” you’re going to have to move into the “how” of building a case. In general, we can break down the calculus of conferences into a relatively simple formula: the total cost of the conference weighed against the number of leads you’d need to send down your pipeline to break even on attending. Now obviously the goal is not to break even, it’s to turn a profit. But this provides an absolute baseline for you to ensure you know exactly what you need. In summation, you’ll need the following information in order to create a comprehensive case for your stakeholders:

  • The total cost of the conference: Rounding up to the nearest thousand will be for the best here. Make sure you include your travel and supply costs as well!
  • Your potential opportunity pool: This includes everything from the number of attendees to the amount of time on the exhibition floor you’ll have. This will determine the amount of staff you bring (which will in turn affect your total conference cost).
  • The average revenue you accrue per “win” and your average close rate: You’ll be setting this against the conference cost, and the latter percentage will help you determine the final part of this equation.
  • The projected number of leads and wins you need to break even: Not every lead turns into a win immediately, but knowing how many leads you need to generate in order to hit your minimum (the cost of the conference divided by your average win) is going to be imperative to this process.

This is also the point at which you’ll be determining whether or not any add-ons will be required, such as sponsoring a breakout session, hosting an event or purchasing enhanced digital marketing prior to. In our Conference Crush guide, we provide a handy Excel template you can use to determine some of this. Ideally once you’ve presented your case, you’ll be approved and can start preparing for the conference.

Prepping your strategy

Once you’re approved, it’s time to revisit your strategy. Remind yourself why you’re at the conference. Think about what teams will be affected by your being there. Marketers and sales reps are likely to be at your booth, but the c-suite may get involved as well depending on the company. Make sure you review with your stakeholders to avoid any last minute panics. 

In addition, you’ll want to finish off your 2020 conference strategy planning by deciding who should be onsite for the conference and what their job should be. Someone who’s passionate about the product could be your closer when talking to VIPs, while someone who has a head for numbers and organization could handle logistics to ensure that nothing is left unconsidered. Ideally everyone will be doing a little of everything but designating particular roles can save you a lot of headaches onsite.

Final touches for 2020 conference planning

Now is also the time to determine what your unique marketing touchpoints will be onsite. What’s your social media strategy going to be? Will you use uniforms to differentiate yourself from other exhibitors? Will you use something like a retail pop-up to keep yourselves top-of-mind with your VIPs? This is also the point where you’ll want to finalize your outreach campaigns—looking up which attendees are already in your database and honing in on your core personas to find the decision-makers you need to be contacting will save you a lot of hassle in the long run if executed well.

We’ll leave it there for now; that’s a lot of information. Tune in next time as we go over what to do when your boots hit the ground at the conference proper.


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