Is the conference experience of awkward interactions and sweaty handshakes necessary to business success? In an age where technology rules and communication comes at the touch of a button, face-to-face interactions can still function as lead-generating machines.
According to Adstage, 68 percent of B2B marketers use in-person events for lead generation initiatives. For conference lead generation to work, however, it needs to incorporate both online and offline efforts.
Conference Lead Generation: Getting Started
Conferences provide the opportunity to generate leads through face-to-face networking. To develop an effective conference lead generation strategy, your marketing efforts should strategically approach prospects in the following four areas:
1. In Person
Be sure to do your research before approaching prospects in person. Conduct the following when getting started:
- Find out which companies are attending
- Establish the proper contact of who may be attending
- Acquire email addresses for each attendee
- Contact them and ask to meet for coffee during the event – make sure each invitation is personalized.
Some attendees may deny the invitation but suggest meeting at their booth instead. It’s all about getting a foot in the door for open communication.
Gathering business cards is another way to collect information from potential prospects, but your card may not be enough for a business to remember you or inspire them to follow up. Make yourself memorable – companies will recognize the individual who came to their booth with an exciting story or had everyone pose for a silly photo.
Introduce yourself to every booth, ask personal questions without selling, and re-introduce yourself to those you invited to coffee. Try jotting down information that can be used in the follow-up email on their business cards, so that you too can remember what was explicitly talked about with them at the event.
Ongoing communication is vital to lead generation. When the conference is over and a connection is established, invite those who work nearby to take a tour of the office or meet for lunch to discuss ideas and continue conversations. If you’ve connected with these prospects through social media, these channels can be powerful assets in ongoing communication, lead nurturance, and generate leads.
2. Social Media
Social media is an excellent platform to nurture new connections. Prior to a conference, create a social media list of prospects; search conference hashtags to participate in conversations and discover relevant individuals. Prepare new contacts for future connections by letting them know you’ll follow up soon.
After adding new contacts to the social media list, ensure you’ve connected with their business accounts. Connecting on LinkedIn is an excellent way to generate conference leads. Be sure to send a personalized invitation that includes a brief reminder of the meeting. Make a point to interact with potential prospects on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Share, like, and comment on the organization’s content when applicable to not only show interest in their company but to support them in the online community.
The conclusion of a conference is also this is a prime opportunity to invite attendees to connect on social media and reconvene at a later date. To generate leads, be a consistent and reliable source of communication without overwhelming connections.
Email marketing is essential to generating leads after a conference, but it’s critical to find the right balance between sending a follow-up email and giving the prospective client space. Overwhelming prospects with a flood of emails in an attempt to meet with them immediately after the event will most likely lessen the chance of generating a lead. Remind contacts of how you met by mentioning a highlight or two from your conversation. If you can think of anything that may help them – tools, blog posts, apps, ebooks– make sure to include these as well. Depending on how prospects have engaged with your social media and email efforts, consider giving them a call.
4. Phone Call
Some may prefer calling immediately after the conference; however, it’s best to give prospective clients a few days following the conference to settle in and respond to the follow-up email before calling. If particular prospects have been more interactive with your online presence, a call could provide a space for more open communication and real-time question and answer sessions.
Attending a conference is a great way to generate leads, increase ROI, and grow your business. According to Bizzabo, 84 percent of leadership (Vice President and C-Suite) believe in-person events are a critical component of their company’s success.
Remember, timeliness is critical – not too soon so that your communication overwhelms or annoys prospects, but soon enough to not be forgotten. Follow these steps to guarantee conference lead generation before, during, and after the event!