We’ve all done it – signed up for a big and expensive marketing or SEO event. We’ve taken a week off of client work, traveled thousands of miles, and come home with a bag full of giveaways and notes. But when the dust settles, we’re left wondering what we really got for our investment of time and effort. Was attending the event really worth the overall investment?
The good news is that it’s easy to make it so. Your plan starts with how you choose the events you attend, what you do before you get there, how you act and spend your time during the events, and what you to do handle follow up. It’s not for the faint of heart. But if you’re committed to moving your business forward this year and plan to attend at least one conference, here’s my strategy for getting the most value from every conference you attend.
Why are you attending events?
There are a hundred ways to move the needle on your business, especially when you’re in the online space. From running Facebook ads to joining a multi-thousand dollar mastermind group, you may not know it, but you have more options available to you than you can ever take advantage of. So our whole discussion today starts with the question: why are you attending events in the first place?
To answer this question effectively, you need to approach it from two points of view. First, it’s important to understand your own personal and professional goals. People attending events can have any number of goals, but here’s a closer look at why I’ve personally attended events and the reasons that I most frequently hear:
- To network and meet potential clients
- To network and meet my peers
- To connect with mentors or teachers
- To identify businesses to collaborate with or contract to
- For exposure to the latest trends and thinking
- To learn about a specific subject
- To get a certification
- To hit the tradeshow floor and see what products are hot on the market
- To study the marketing on the tradeshow floor
- To see what my competitors are up to
- To speak and increase my profile as a thought leader
- To socialize with other people in my space
- To build my personal brand
Depending on the goal, most of these can be accomplished in other ways. A direct email marketing campaign could help you land new clients. You could network with your peers over LinkedIn or via a local MeetUp. You can follow key blogs or discussion groups to get a handle on the latest trends. The two things that set shows apart in this regard are scale and the multiple goal effect.
The second perspective that you need to consider is the context of trade shows. Shows let you achieve any of these goals at a scale that’s much larger than you can do in almost any other venue. Sure, you can meet potential clients in many places. But if you choose the right show, you can get in front of hundreds or even thousands of potential clients within just a few days. You can generate dozens of warm leads with relatively little effort and cost. The multiple goal effect is a similar concept: trade shows allow you to achieve multiple goals at once. You can network, learn new skills, reach potential customers, and see what your competitors are doing all in one place. That’s an investment that’s hard to beat.