I’ve been travelling around the US and Canada over the past couple of weeks and been to some great events and conferences. While there, I met tons of marketers who told me about their hectic events schedule. I hear this all the time, events are a huge part of the Marketing weapon wheel. There are so many events in every industry. But often events are expensive, with the costs of travel and exhibiting or tickets adding up. Especially if you bring your team along with you.

Before, during and after the events I’ve been to recently I noticed a few trends. Here’s a run down of what I noticed about modern event marketing. The good, the bad and the super smart:

Pre-booking meetings

We’ve all had the standard emails from Sales reps asking if we’re going to X event and are free for a coffee while there. This happens to everyone. But if you can pre-book meetings, you’re off to a good start.

A lot of the time it’s clear that this type of outreach is done based off intuition from the rep, not actual data. If you’re near Boston, there’s a chance you would go to Inbound 19 because Boston is where the event was this year – it’s that type of assumption. This is where you can get hit by emails that are quickly dismiss-able. If you’re not going, the “reason for the email” is invalid so you’re not going to read on.

Sometimes the event organizers will share the attendee list with the sponsors before the actual date of the event. This is a good leverage for reps, but beware every other sponsor has the list. If you’re putting time and money into events, put the time into considered 1 to 1 outreach to pre book meetings. Blanket emails won’t work.

Another way you can narrow down your outreach to the right people is to use the mobile app that attendees use to sign into the conference. You can often sign into the event and message other people who are signed up before the event. The only issue on this is that the smaller events may not have this capability, and numbers may be small if they do. But certainly for bigger events, get ahead using this channel.

1 way I personally have done this is to use intent data that tells me when my target accounts are attending an event. Usually, this works because of engagements from leads on social media indicating they are sponsoring or attending the event before and during the time. There are other sources of course behind the scenes, but this is a rich ground for appointment setting I have used.

Your booth

If you’re a SaaS company, demos are key. Your booth needs at the very least, cutting messaging that is quick and easy to digest. This is so that traffic around the event stop to talk to you. You don’t want to send reps hunting around the room to drag people to your stand because not enough are stopping. If you’ve got the booth and set up to have screens show a quick video people can watch as they walk around, that’s killer. Demos are useful but really it’s about the quick message that makes them stop and talk to you. The demo can come later, but think about great messaging that hits right on the pain or a goal people want to achieve.

For example, some booths at the events I went to had quite bland messages. If LeadSift were at an event, the level of message we’re talking is “LeadSift uses intent data to help you talk to the best prospects”. Where I’d be much more likely to stop if I saw “LeadSift tells you which leads are looking at your competitors, so you can approach them and win more deals”.

It sounds simple but I noticed this a lot. It’s not really the “what” or “how”, more the outcome for the user that when used well at booths got me to stop and talk.

One thing for the people at your booth, get out and talk. There’s a line between hoarding people to your booth and being too strong on this. But don’t sit and wait for people to walk up into the middle of your booth. A key thing I noticed here is that the follow ups from events can become tedious. Many, many reps want to book a meeting with leads who they scanned at the event or swapped business cards with. You can get around this by physically booking a meeting there and then if the lead is OK with it.

Everyone has Google Calendar on their phone, or something similar. Get the phone out, check and suggest a time. You can book it up and send an invite there and then. Or, if you have a Hubspot calendar (or Calendly for example) have it open on your phone and pass to people for filling out. They can pick a time that works for them.

People you didn’t meet

You’ll not meet everyone you wanted to at an event. But, you do have a good reason to reach out with that in mind. One thing I noticed is that I got a lot of emails saying “nice to see you at…” when I never met the person emailing me. I’m sure this is pretty common and it’s just a blanket email. But straight away, I’m not reading the email any further even if they’re offering me something amazing.

So, always be straight about this. I’m way more likely to respond if I get a:

“Hey Tukan, we didn’t get to meet at X but I hoped we would get the chance to chat. I wanted to ask you about X”.

This is a good way to generate some more appointments, reach out to people you didn’t get to talk to. Leverage some context about the event when doing this. For example, mention that your team felt the attendance was super strong and you’re 100% going to sponsor next year. Or if you felt there was something remark-worthy that other people there would have noticed. Use this so that the prospect resonates with you, and sees you’re not looking for an appointment right away.

A lot of the time, people I wanted to meet but didn’t were away from their stand. You can mention your opinion on their stand. Or ask if they went to a certain keynote that was really good. There’s a lot of context you can use in this follow up.

You may already know, but we launched a free tool called LeadSift Buzz that tells you when target accounts are at events (among many other things!). I use it so that I make sure I’m aware of customers and prospects at events. Try it for free…

That’s what I noticed. What do you see at events that vendors could try and do better with event marketing? Let me know!