Building Your Conference Marketing Case

In our last post, we went over some of the reasons why conference marketing is beneficial to your client outreach and acquisition. But just like needing to learn how to crawl before you can walk, you’ve got to plan your conference case and execute a lot of planning once its approved before you can start getting that unfair amount of face time with potential clients. Here are some best practices when it comes to planning your conference case.

Define your conference strategy

Once you’ve decided on a conference that aligns with your marketing goals, you’ll want to consider the size of the conference. If you’ve got the budget and brand, a large conference will generate more leads for you. If not, you might want to focus on building your brand through a smaller conference with fewer attendees but less competition.

Depending on your conference goals, there are different tactics you can take, and it’s important to do the legwork beforehand to figure out what will work best for you. At bare minimum, the following three activations assist with all three parts of conference marketing (Brand Awareness, New Leads and Nurturing Existing Relationships):

  • An exhibition booth
  • Hosting a customer event
  • Digital advertising through social or conference-sponsored emails

Other extras like list-buying and sponsoring breakout sessions can also be helpful, but they don’t come cheap—a session alone could add $25,000 to your bill.

Constructing your conference case

Once you’ve determined your conference preferences, you’ll likely have to construct a case to get approval from finance or organizational leaders. Your conference case should include the following:

  • Full conference costs, including tchotchkes, printing, travel—if it costs money, factor it in
  • Expected opportunity pool: by factoring in attendees from previous years, you’ll be able to determine how many leads you could generate and how many staff members you’ll need to attend
  • How many contacts or leads will you need to generate in order to cover your costs? Factor this by determining the close rate of a comparable marketing channel and average revenue per win

Building out your case strategically helps you prepare to justify the investment to leadership (if needed) and make it challenging to turn down from a fiscal perspective. Conference marketing is rarely the last step in lead acquisition, but it can be an incredibly helpful first step.

Planning for the conference proper

The first thing you should do once the contracts are signed and you’ve got the greenlight is finalize conference goals. Create a project plan starting from the day you decide to host to at least 30 days after the conference is over. Now is also the time to determine your staffing needs. At bare minimum, make sure you have someone in each of the following positions:

  • Logistics: someone who’s going to print extra flyers, manage booth schedule and event agendas,  and generally keep an even keel.
  • Closer: the skilled sales person. Someone who knows your product like the back of their hand. Someone who’s going to capture the attention of conference-goers and explain why your product is just what they need.
  • Buffer: Part logistics, part closer, all badass. The buffer is a jack of all trades and can either be helping run logistics or engaging with clients while the Closer is otherwise engaged.

Before the conference, focus on generating touch points for your messaging by coordinating the uniform you and your team will wear onsite, the features and look of your booth area, and who you’ll reach out to (and how) before the conference starts. You should also start planning your pre-show outreach and social strategy to generate buzz for your presence at the conference. Every touch point helps.

For more info, check out our comprehensive Field Marketers’ Guide to crushing your next conference. 


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