Know Your (Conference) Role

This email originally appeared in the November 8th edition of The Scribble, KYC's weekly marketing newsletter. You can subscribe to The Scribble at the top of this page.


We often have clients that want to get involved in industry conferences and events, but aren’t sure which level of involvement is best for them. Since there are several options with various requirements, we’ve provided a breakdown here.
Easy peasy. Register and show up. When you’re just starting out, it’s likely you’ll benefit the most by simply attending a conference, or two. Evaluate what the conference has to offer and what you think you could add to it the next time it’s held, or apply to a similar conference.
If you’re ready to be an exhibitor/vendor at a conference, it’s safe to say you have a few conference attendances under your belt. As an exhibitor you’ll want to make sure you have something to offer; something that will make people actually stop at your booth and speak with you. Of course you can go ahead and bring a bowl of candy, a contest giveaway, or some branded takeaway; but what’s most important is that you offer attendees something valuable about you or your company. They want to gain information and contacts that can improve some part of their business. At the very least, design a brochure or one-pager that they can take home and really remember what you have to offer.
Sometimes you can’t actually be at the conference, or maybe you are there and want a little more presence. Go ahead and select a sponsorship option for the conference that you feel best fits your needs and budget. This will allow you and your brand to extend its reach at the conference and oftentimes comes with perks such as your registration tickets, access to VIP events, or even exhibitor space.
Key Speaker/Panelist
Speaking at a conference is incredible for your visibility and a way to show your expertise in the industry. As a panelist, you will be joining other industry experts on a specific topic and play off one another. As a key speaker, you’ll have the opportunity to own the floor. It usually takes a significant amount of time to prove yourself worthy of a key speaker role, along with an invite from the conference to hold that position.
This is an entirely different angle, but still important to touch on. There will be many companies who are able to host their own conference. This usually comes after they’ve gained significant experience with the previous roles above. The important part is to make sure you do it well. You’ll need a lot of planning and likely a dedicated team to sort out the location, event space layout, speakers, sponsorship options, catering, electrical and technology needs, attendee pricing and logistics, along with all the day-of details. Even though hosting is a lot of work, if done well, it can be used to develop or enhance strategic partnerships as well as increase visibility for brand awareness and even sales.
Whichever role you decide on, it’s important to make sure you promote your presence. Clients, customers, prospects, partners, competitors, etc. should all be aware that you’re part of this upcoming conference or event. Your social media should be leveraged with a specific campaign to get this message out. The size of the campaign will depend on your level of involvement and how much time you have to promote. Developing a strategic shell that can be used as a template will help to streamline this process for future event promotions.