In this episode of In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris talk through what marketers should do to prepare for and make the most of event and conference marketing. What should marketers prepare in advance? How do you network effectively at events? Listen in as they discuss best practices, tips, and ways to get as much out of your conference ticket price as possible.
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What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.
This is In Ear Insights, the trust insights podcast.
In today’s in your insights we are talking about preparing for a conference or event so with the content marketing the influencers the planning the strategy if you’re going to a big show like Social Media Marketing World, Inbound, South by Southwest what are the things that we want to do to make the most of the opportunity cuz shows are expensive shows I know a good conference may cost you up to 10 grand Justin travel and tickets and stuff so Katie What do you as an executive want to see from a marketer to prepare for a show and to make the most of it well I think first and foremost I think it’s understanding why you’re going to the show at all because you know I know you know when I was younger in my career the idea of going to a show is just sort of like thrilling and exciting just to be there as part of the experience but what am I really getting out of it so I think what I would like to see
From marketers on my team is really some sort of a thought through plan of why am I going What am I going to get out of it? What is the benefit to the company because you’re right shows are very expensive and it’s not just the cost of the ticket it’s the travel it’s the hotel it’s the meals and dining and you know whatever else goes along with that so I would want to know what do you plan to learn from this you know what don’t you know that you’re hoping to get from this like have a all these shows put their agendas out months in advance so you can really pick and choose the talks that you want to go to but then also you’re representing the company so it’s not enough to just attend you as a marketer, your marketing the company every single second that you’re there. So it’s Who are you going to be talking to? How are you going to put yourself out there? How are you going to let people know that you are representing the company while you’re there so that they can come find you? What is your plan for that?
Get you know yourself out there? Is it a series of tweets? Is it setting up some coffee time? Like, whatever the thing is. So those are that’s a short list of the things that I would expect from someone. It’s interesting because the The one thing I did here on the list, but we both have had to deal with,
you know, in our first year businesses is actually the productivity time loss because when a person’s at the show, they ain’t working, or they’re not working in the traditional sense, right? That’s a really good point. And so
what’s the coverage plan? So if you are my senior marketing analyst, and you’re on three of my biggest accounts, but you plan to be at South by Southwest for a week, how is that going to work? What does the coverage plan how are you going to let the client so who have you trained up to, you know, cover your daily tasks, those types of things. So that’s absolutely critical. You’re right. Yeah. In terms of the stuff to get ready for a show. How should marketers be thinking about trying to take advantage of the news so
For example, as of the time of this recording, we are three weeks out from Social Media Marketing World, which is about a 6000 person show and a great mix of markers across the spectrum from, you know, Mom and Pop small businesses to the biggest of the big corporations.
Let’s say it because we do we want to make a mark on the Social Media Marketing World audience what are the different ways that we could look at creating content or finding influencers and things to take advantage of that show?
So some of the things that you would probably want to do is obviously had to social media, find out what kind of what hashtags are these conferences using, and start to take a look at the chatter see what people are talking about what’s important to them, who are the people who were talking, if you have the type of skill sets that we have at trust insights, you can do it in a more automated fashion to figure out what’s trending, who’s important who’s connected to who and so you would be able to really
start to understand what that ecosystem really looks like, and who you might be able to get in touch with when you’re there. So let’s say for example, you know, I’m headed to Social Media Marketing World. And I want to know if I can get in front of Chris 10, I was starting to see the types of things that he’s posting about assuming that he’s posting ahead of time about Social Media Marketing World, but as a speaker, I would assume you would be and I would start to maybe retweet your stuff and engage with you. And then maybe sort of after we’ve established some sort of an online relationship, see if we can maybe meet up for coffee or something like that. What are the things I think is interesting though, is that the value of an event like social media market, I’m just thinking about my past experiences, there isn’t necessarily the speakers
a couple a couple of the speakers can be a little on the
diva side, if you will, you know that the folks who have the support staff and like five people running around photographing them and taking video of them, like eating a cannoli and things like that.
like God, that’s a nightmare.
But when we look at who we’ve interacted with in the past, it’s not the speakers. It’s the senior marketing manager of the beverage company. It is the marketing director of the insurance company. These are the folks who not necessarily gonna be the loudest. These are not the folks who are going to be the the most engaging or the, you know, who are trying to put themselves into the spotlight. These are the folks who are sitting in the audience, but you as a business professional, that’s who we we really want to talk to you like, hey, you’ve got a problem with your analytics your data at I Know Coca Cola, certainly a company that we want to do some business with. So do you have what kind of game plan do you build a try and meet those kind of people? Well, so it’s, I mean, we’re talking about two sides of the same coin. We’re talking about how you approach it as an attendee, and then we’re talking about how you approach it as a speaker, a vendor. And so if we take the tact of how do you approach it as a speaker slash vendor.
Then it’s really creating content around here the problems we solve or do you see yourself in this problem? If so, come talk to us, or, you know, really providing some value for audience members so that they know that you’re the person that they want to spend their valuable time with. That you are the absolute only person that they need to make sure that they talk to you. So what what do you have that they want? It’s not enough to just show up waltz on stage and wax poetic about, you know, I mean, God knows what not but in the sense of, you’re not really helping them understand why the thing you’re talking about is a problem that you solve and how you can solve it for them. And so it’s making sure that your talk is not only informative but it’s engaging and it’s actionable and so that way people are more interested in talking with you.
Afterwards, like, What value do you create to them? And then as an audience member, it’s really knowing like going in, what are the problems that I need to be solving and who can solve them for me? So it’s really almost like matchmaking It really is. And I want to go back to something you said, because it’s really important. asking your audience in advance. This show is one of the simplest ways you can provide value. If you have a mailing list. If you have a social media following, you can say, Hey, I’m going to be at an event with 6000 other social media marketers. What question do you have that you’d like an answer to that if I could get you know, talk to, you know, three or four people who are peers or maybe even experts that what would you want to know I sent out my own newsletter last night. I said, I’m going to the sink. What questions would you like me ask Allison. Someone went back over to saying hey, how do you benchmark against you know, in your industry and stuff? And I think this is a great question because I would like to know how other people are doing it so either I could learn something and level
My skills myself or understand, hey, this is a thing that trust insights needs to provide a service for because I was a lot of people asking for it. So if you have not already asked your mailing list in advance of the show, this would be the time to do it. If you’re a speaker at Social Media Marketing World and you don’t have a social network or a mailing list, then I’m pretty sure you’re doing it wrong. No, but that aside, I think that i think that that’s a really great way to keep your audience engaged, like not only do they know where you’re going to be, but if they can’t attend, they can still be part of the conversation. One of the things that I thought marketingprofs did really well, last year at their conference was every morning they had these roundtable sessions. And it wasn’t with a specific agenda in mind, but it was if you want to talk about AI, go sit at this table. If you want to talk about analytics, go sit at this table. And it was a little bit more of a free form. Yes, it was a networking event, but you could just sit down at a table
And ask those questions without, you know, feeling like you’re going to get this hard sell back of, well, I have this tool that, you know, slices and dices and julianne’s like, you could just have a conversation and start to learn from other people. And so I think that that was such a smart move on their part. And so what you’re describing is a way to virtually do that for people who maybe can’t attend or want to make sure that their question is asked, so that doesn’t get lost in the sea of people when they do get there. Exactly. You want to be the curator of your audience’s top problems, because that’s the easiest way to make sure that your audience does business with you say, Yeah, I went out and did the grunt work and got, you know, put put on the Sherpa outfit and and sought out the guides on the mountains.
questions that you have. Well, and I would add Sorry, I would add to that if you are asking your audience for what questions would you be asking you also need to make sure that you’re following up with these people and saying I got the
answer to your question whether you’re tweeting it out and tagging them, whether you’re responding to them privately. So make sure that it’s sort of that two way street of communication. You’re not just asking for something from them, you’re also providing back the information that they’ve asked for. Exactly, exactly. Yeah. So for this question here will email this person back, we’ll post a video on YouTube to so they can watch it for the for the event itself. When you’re there. As someone who has been to a lot of events, one of the things that you do to gather information and to make to make that trip I like do you how do you take notes for yourself when you’re at one of these shows? Because you’re more organized than I am, I just kind of
go back to my tweets.
Well, you know, it’s interesting, I think that I think people do it a lot of different ways. Some people just collect business cards, which is ok, but then you often forget why you have that business card or what the conversation was. So one of the things that I know we did when we were designing our business cards was make sure that there was a lot of white space
Based on it so that we could take notes directly on the card, or that we could offer additional information on the card before we handed it to someone to say, we talked about x, you know, my direct line is this. So that way when they got back to their office, and then finally dug the business card out of their bag, three weeks later, they had some context. But if I’m talking with someone that I really want to remember what’s happening, you know, I might just go ahead and connect with them on LinkedIn and send them a message immediately, or even just sort of exchange a quick email and be like, hey, it was really great to talk to you about this, you know, specific thing I want to make sure I don’t forget what you know, that we said that we would talk in a week. So let’s go ahead and get that setup. So just I think whether you’re taking it on paper on business cards electronically, it doesn’t matter. It’s more so making sure that those conversations are actionable and not just the passive Oh, yeah, we’ll talk some time or Oh yeah, I’ll have my sales team get in touch with you. If you really want to follow up with somebody do it right there and then
Set the meeting really good advice. How much networking Do you do before the show? And they’re all like, for example, social media marketer has a Facebook group for every single track how much how much? How important is that to you? I think it’s important to do ahead of time. Because, again, to your point, you want to make sure that you’re providing value to the audience’s speaker. You want to make sure that people know that you are the top to be at that you are the person who solves their problems. So your networking in the sense of again, you’re not doing like a hard sell of your services, but you’re trying to understand the questions that the audience has you’re taking in information and then you’re turning that into some sort of a value and making sure that people are getting something out of it so that you are the person they want to talk to you once they get there. So before the conference, you’re really sort of information gathering at the conference, you’re answering the questions that people have asked and then post conference you can do that hard sell of let’s talk about how we can
Work together kind of a thing. So I think it sort of those three phases. Let’s pivot briefly because could be a very long conversation otherwise, but let’s pivot briefly into what Shouldn’t you do? What are the things that that as a attendee of events that you’ve been to in the past, and even as a speaker that you’ve been that in the past you’ve just seen people do and be like, Oh, just don’t do that. Yeah, there are some obvious things like please don’t follow people back to their hotel rooms really bad,
but that what are the other things that from a marketing perspective are just going to cause you more harm than good? Oh, man, that’s such a loaded question.
Obviously, don’t be that we know that one of those Don’t be that person who’s like a terrible sales manager. Just slinging your business card like sure I can. Every person who’s standing still well, and I think that’s exactly it. So if I think back even to before I was more heavily invested in marketing, and I was working in a Clinical Health setting.
The attendees at a conference aren’t there to be sold to. They’re there to learn something. And I think if you as a speaker or a vendor, yeah, obviously, they know why you’re there. They know that you have stuff to sell. But if you go in like that full court press, and, you know,
you start immediately, like, try to grab people off the conference floor while they’re walking by trying to drink some coffee and check their voicemail. Ah, you’re doing it wrong. They will, if they have questions, they will come to you, especially if you go in with a very clear value of the questions that you answer for them. You know, if you’ve been building up that that conversation and that you know, sort of pre conference networking, they will come to you but if you start chasing people down saying by my thing by my thing, or have you know, I’m sure there are some conferences where like a T shirt gun is appropriate, you know,
it’s not always the appropriate thing and you have to find the right time to do it. So, like maybe during the
keynote when every single person is in the same space. And they say, okay, we’re going to start giving away free t shirts. And then you bring out the T shirt gun, okay? You have the whole audience engaged. But if people are just wandering around the vendor floor, and you start shooting them in the face with a T shirt gun, that’s probably the wrong thing to do. Or probably the wrong timing. Now, I want a T shirt gun. This sounds fantastic.
The one I would add to that is don’t be the shoulder surfer. And the shoulder surfer is that person who, as they’re talking to you, they’re constantly looking over your shoulder to see Is there someone more important or better at that I should be talking to him, that person is of noxious that is that is not the person you need to be. One of the things that I think is really important to do at an event is when you’re meeting people think about the person not the role the person you’re talking to. Yes, there’s that business perspective of Hey, this is a person who works the digital marketing manager at
SAP Oracle and you know, there’s a clue business case for right now talking to them. But if you think about investing in the person and not the role, the junior person that you’re having breakfast with today who is like, you know the associate assistant staffer to somebody and you can’t remember who they are, if they are smart, if they know what they’re talking about, if they are curious, if they are good human being, don’t immediately trying and you know, and the conversation and talk to somebody you think is more important, because that person you’re talking to, in three or four years could be the director of marketing at a startup, you really want to do business too. And if you did, if you burn that bridge by treating them as unimportant, it’s going to go badly for you, as opposed to investing in the person and the relationship and saying, okay, hey, you know, I’ll share what I got. You may or may not ever be able to do business with me right now. But in three years, you could be the CEO of a startup
Okay, this is a person that I that was really important. They’ve got the title we’ve got the
The infrastructure, so invest in the person and be open minded as to who you’re going to meet. I think that’s a really, really, really good piece of advice. And I think that unfortunately, a lot of people do make that misstep. So there you know, so we started talking about influencers and those types of things. The people that you’re describing might not be the influencers on social media today, they may not be the decision makers today, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t connect with them and, you know, be friendly with them and offer them you know, a subscription to the newsletter. So like that, you know, don’t necessarily do a hard sell. But to your point, you may never know where somebody is going to be or the position that they’re going to be in. You know, I know that we have a lot of people sort of in the marketing industry who still firmly believe that word of mouth is one of the best marketing tools and it really is. And so how many times have we found ourselves with a friend of a friend of a friend
Have a friend referred us to this client that we, you know, one or someone who was interested in our services, you know, just because the person that you’re talking to, or sitting down next to it breakfast might not be a decision maker. That doesn’t mean that they’re not connected or they don’t have somebody in their circle that they could connect you to. So I think, Chris, you are absolutely right. You know, don’t be looking for the next most important person. Like, be kind just talk to everybody. And you know,
anyone who’s willing to talk to you, you know, that’s valuable, because guess what, there’s a million people there and you are not the most important one. So just be humble. Exactly. The other thing I would say is, and I this is something that I have to work on as well is keeping a mental tally to protect yourself against bias. Have I talked to an equal number of men and women have I talked to, you know,
persons of color have I talked to people with different perspectives. If you find yourself You are always talking to a person who is just
Like you, there’s a good chance that you’re not getting the most out of the event because you’re not getting a diverse enough set of perspectives and events are getting better in general, with exceptions, but in general that’s starting to get better about more diversity on speakers and things. But it’s still important to as an attendee to seek out more diverse experiences because he had never know who you’ll meet some really interesting people. one the most interesting people I met at IBM think was a Zimbabwean expatriate who now lives in Toronto she has a obviously female she’s a personal color and she is what the smartest data scientist I’ve ever met. And you know, the externalities are marginally interesting. But she uses a super smart person had I stuck to talking to people who would just like me, I never would have met this person and I never would have found out the things that they’re working on for, you know, and and learn some techniques for bias mitigation from a technical perspective. So make sure that you’ve got that diversity in your head as well. Well, and I would
caviar and caution. People don’t just go to check a box. So okay, have I talked to a woman? No. Okay, you are women. Let me talk to you. Like, don’t take that approach. Chris, I think you, I think what you’re saying is so smart, where it’s really about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. So when you’re going down to breakfast, you have all of these communal tables, and it can be really intimidating, especially if you’re a little bit more introverted, but you’re at a conference, you’ve just paid all of this money to be there to interact with, you know, peers of similar skill sets, sit down next to someone who you have no idea who they are, and just, Hey, who are you where you’re from? Every single person starts the conversation that way, and that’s totally acceptable. Because in that environment, you are expected to sit down next to and talk to people that you otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to interact with. But again, sort of with that caveat of don’t do it just to check a box of your opinion.
of color. I’m going to talk to you today. Like that’s a really bad approach. Yeah, I agree with that. Sit down with somebody who doesn’t look like you and Adam meal and just say hi. I think that’s, that’s, that’s the easiest way to make sure that you’re you’re getting different experiences. So that’s a wrap up. Don’t be a jerk.
Don’t be a jerk.
Don’t Don’t go in with a hard sell and and do your homework, do your homework. invest the time in the content marketing before the event, invest in the networking before the event and go into an event having goals that are about serving your audience as opposed to serving yourself. So Katie, where are the events that we should be paying attention to? I know we’re going to be co presenting at an event coming up at later this month. Yeah, so Chris, you are going to be at Social Media Marketing World in a couple of weeks following that you and I will both be speaking at the Hello conference hosted by b squared media in New Jersey. After that, I believe we are at make on which is included
And and then we are waiting for some of our speaker applications to be accepted. But we will likely be bopping around at inbound and content marketing world and marketingprofs later on in this year, so we’ll be all over so you can find that information on our website. That’s trust insights.ai. And you can also find us on social media at trust insights. And of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel and our newsletter especially since we post our talks from our events on our YouTube channel. So thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next time.
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