Making a call on event sponsorship – can you stand out from the crowd?

16 03 2011

Clients ask me all the time if they should sponsor conferences or exhibitions.  Like most PRs and marketers, they are lured by the prospect of engaging with hundreds or even thousands of their target audience at the same time, all in the same place.  A great opportunity, and I get it, I can see the value in that – but is it really ‘engaging’?

Can you spot your brand?....didn't think so.

I read a great example of what I’m talking about today on AdAge Digital in reference to the ever popular SXSW event in Austin, taking place this week.  Here’s an event that has been around for a long time and has always been under the radar, more of a music festival than a business event and for those who know it well – they would like to keep it that way. But aaah the curse of popularity. As the AdAge piece points out, the big brand corporate world has taken over and in the opinion of some, taken the shine off the event, with smaller start ups and brands getting lost in the frenzy – the competition for attendees attention is just too fierce that nothing gets through to them except the down-your-throat big bucks marketing stunts that very few can afford.

And that leads me to my point. What I tell clients when they ask me if they should sponsor an event is, it depends on the event. If you will be the sole sponsor or one of only a handful, you stand a reasonable chance of awareness and engagement among the audience. By contrast, if you’re competing against over 50 brands and their logos, stands, free food, drinks, laptop bags, etc – unless you have the marketing budget to compete with the big boys, you’re not going to get much value.

Evaluate each opportunity as it comes and think about how this is going to help meet your PR/Marketing goals.





Maximising conference speaking with social media

9 11 2010

All too often we see speakers turn up five minutes before their presentation, deliver a well polished speech and disappear before the applause has even stopped. We appreciate that many senior level speakers are simply too busy to hang around, but there are other ways to maximise their event exposure that wont keep them out of the office.

Most events these days have some form of social media presence, by engaging with this you can let delegates know in advance what you’ll be covering, point them to your own resources and generally make yourself more accessible. Whether this be a guest blog post or a short video drumming up interest in your session or even a question asked in the conference’s LinkedIn group – “what do you want to hear from us at superuberhightech show 2011?”

Once you’ve finished speaking, follow up with potential leads at the event. Make sure your conference materials are available online and provide a way for the delegates to follow up with you or ask the question they never got to in person. If you’re on Twitter, follow the event, look out for comments around your session and reply, start a conversation and point them towards more information.

As always, it’s all about tying everything together, making yourself accessible, following up on leads and using every channel available to reach and influence your audience.






How to network

16 04 2010

So you’ve chosen your target conference, secured a speaking slot and delivered a stellar, perfectly prepared presentation. Mission accomplished, right?

Not quite. Your speaking engagement is just the start, don’t be one of those speakers that flies in, delivers their presentation and then flies out. Half of the value for the delegates and indeed you as a speaker is the networking opportunities and the ability to generate solid leads. In fact for many, networking is the primary reason they attend events.

Generally when people try to network at conferences, it involves wandering around aimlessly, reading a few nametags, drinking lots of bad coffee and then giving up, only to later claim that there was no one worth speaking to and the networking potential was poor. This is because they had no networking plan, and like most everything else in life and business – even networking works better with a plan.

Work out in advance what you would like to achieve in terms of networking with the help of your marketing, PR and sales teams. Setting yourself clear and measurable objectives, whether you’re speaking or attending as a delegate will help you take advantage of the great networking potential conferences provide and get the full benefit from a speaking platform.

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We’ve come up with a list of suggested networking goals and their respective actions to help you make the best of your time at an event:

Sales leads
Get a list of confirmed delegates and speakers from the organiser and identify potential sales targets. Seek out these targets at the event, or see if it’s possible to get a free delegate pass for a member of the sales team to accompany you. Set yourself a realistic target (meeting between 3 and 5 targets) and ask the marketing team for case study material that’s relevant to each of these targets so you have something to talk about (and remember to take it with you!).

Making useful contacts
Use the same delegate and speaker list to find identify anyone else that might be worth meeting, such as influencers, key industry figures, useful suppliers or existing customers. Get input from your own teams (PR, sales, public affairs etc.) for guidance on which contacts would be useful to make.

Meet the media
Ask the organiser for a confirmed press list and have your PR or media relations team contact relevant journalists to set up media briefings for you. Make the media relations team responsible for following up and reporting on any resulting coverage.

By following a simple and manageable plan such as this, you have a much greater chance of getting real value and ROI from a speaking enagement.