So, you've been excited about a conference you're going to, and can't wait to get there, network, learn and meet incredible like-minded people! But - what's your plan really? Do you have an objective - if so, how do you plan to accomplish your goal? If you don't have an objective - you still want to walk away from the conference feeling like you got something out of it.
I'm going to talk today about how a small business owner can maximize the face-time and "booth time" they can get by attending a conference, and how to best prepare for it in a budget friendly way.
Finding the right conference
Its important to note attending conferences is typically time consuming (you can only do so many a month), and it can get expensive - especially if you have to fly ad book accommodation in addition to paying for the conference ticket.
So its important to think about this for a moment. This circles back to - WHAT'S YOUR GOAL?
When I started out this year, my objective was to attend conferences as an attendee. My objective was to LEARN. My secondary objective was to drive activations - but I was willing to prioritize, and attend a session, build connections over selling at this conference.
Since LEARNING was my main objective - I started looking up conferences that my fellow female creatives and side hustlers were attending. I mostly googled, looked up a lot on Instagram and landed on Create & Cultivate. The tickets were steep - but I loved the agenda, I was excited about the speaker lineup and I really wanted to learn how to run a conference!! Someday I'd love to host something of this scale and this was the perfect way to experience it from the pros.
TO DRIVE INFLUENCE
As an entrepreneur, I'm looking to get my brand out there, build connections. So when my objective is Activations, I'm looking for a conference where the eyes will be on me (atleast for a small portion of time). I look for opportunities where I can share my expertise as a speaker, panelist or offer a Masterclass. Research here is very network dependent - but I've had a lot of success just cold pitching the founders and offering to add value to their attendee list.
TO DRIVE ACTIVATIONS
Now, as a business owner, this is my ultimate goal - ACTIVATIONS! So, you're looking for a conference where you can secure a spot at their Popup market, get a booth or can be a Sponsor (definitely a more expensive option, and possibly my least favorite!) Get clear stats from the conference owners on the attendance size, past success stats, personas of attendees and determine where you want to invest your effort.
Activations at a Booth
This section is particularly for those who want to host a booth to attract traffic and drive conversations or activations! Depending on your brand and ICP (Ideal Customer Profile), you want to ensure your brand can stand out from a distance and attract visitors to your booth.
In our case we put together a small budget (upto $500) to buy booth material that can be easily carried on a plane, can fill a 10x12 table and reused over and over again - even as our product and messaging evolves. We use Vistaprint for most of our booth material along with Amazon.
HERE'S THE CHECKLIST
- Retractable Banner (with QR code + add your branding & tag line)
- Standee with Foam Board
- Plain table cloth (no branding)
- Table Runner (with branding)
- Business cards (with QR Code)
- Ipad (to do demos or even add people to your email list)
- Sample Product (if you have physical goods)
- Creative swags (that people will remember, and are low cost for you to carry in bulk)
- Flyers (with your top features)
- Photo Spot (you can setup a spot by the Banner, Standee, Table runner) where you branding is visible
If you've been thinking about starting your own business, or want to learn more about growing you business,