Creating and staging your own business conference can really elevate a small business. A conference can bring in key trade members, dignitaries as well as current and future customers for your product or service. As opposed to just advertising or marketing, a business conference is a dynamic opportunity to interact, educate and entertain! It is a chance for people with the same interests or goals to meet within a like-minded crowd.
Reaching people inside your industry should be easy and enticing them to attend just takes a little creativity and planning. First, release your event date and detail to industry calendars and web sites. Most conferences have a pretty specific audience so target your advertising and marketing with pipoint accuracy. Conferences aren’t mass market so don’t pay for mass media. Use trade publications and industry magazines, as well as utilizing all the channels of social media to get the word out. Engage industry insiders to help promote your event, and offer the press and bloggers free media passes.
Make it Count
The reason people attend events is to get something they can’t get anywhere else. Make sure when you get the word out that you talk not just about the date and time, but the experience. Tell people what they will see, learn and feel by attending your event. Make it easy for them to sign up as soon as they hear about it by handling your conference registration and ticketing online.
Set a venue and the attendance. It is better to sell out a small event than to have a sparsely-filled great hall. If you have to wait-list people the industry will know you have created an in-demand event and your audience will make sure and register early next time around.
Early Bird Special
Planning and producing a good event takes time. Plan early. Schedule around holidays and keep in mind any other trade shows or industry events so you can avoid conflicts. A good way to attract attendees early is to offer pricing and discounts for people who register for your conference before deadline dates.
Planning early will allow you to schedule out your marketing, make all the PR deadlines and get better deals for vendor services.
Look Who’s Talking
The only way to attract an audience is give them something they want. Attract Key Presenters and you will attract a crowd. Start early and contact speakers through their company, their web site or a speakers bureau (booking agent). Make a list of your dream speakers then go for it! Never assume the VIP you want would not attend your conference. Contact them. You may be surprised.
When you land your big speakers work hand-in-hand with their team to make sure they are helping you promote your event.
Take advantage of having a business celebrity as a presenter by using their name to promote your event. Try to make efficient use of the presenters time. Ask them to be part of a VIP meet and greet for sponsors or attendees who registered for the conference in advance.
You are Switzerland
Stay neutral when promoting an event, choosing presenters and engaging vendors. You will attract more attendees by offering a wide range of information and opinions. Try not to alienate customers or attendees by excluding large segments of your industry that you may see as competition. Be objective when deciding who is in or out.
Those who Can, Teach
Provide teaching moments and information to your attendees. You event is a time to teach, not sell. The attendees will know you as the event organizer and the facilitator, they don’t want to feel as though they have attended just to be sold. If you give all you can in providing quality presenters and lots of take-a-way information they will remember you and likely come back to you when they are ready to buy.
Do a great job and give your attendees what they have signed up for but always hold a bit back. Have a few surprises! Whether it is a free gift, an unadvertised discount or an ice cream sundae bar- come up with an “extra” that will make your guests feel they got more than they bargained for. This will leave your attendees talking about you until next year’s conference.
Promoting a business conference can be an excellent way to promote yourself and business. Dive right in an give it all you have got. You stand to benefit when you provide a platform for others to share. Sharing knowledge and experience in an interactive setting will help your own business, your community and your whole industry prosper.