As an entrepreneur, you should always be on the lookout for opportunities to build your business. Conferences are an amazing option, but where do you begin with planning for your exhibitor booth? Lioness and our sister company, Innovation Women, recently attended the 2023 Massachusetts Conference for Women – so we have all the insider secrets to help you prepare.
Selecting the right conference(s) means identifying where you’ll most likely find potential customers. Using demographics, and considering budget and location, create a list of possible conferences. Ask event planners for expected attendance, demographics, past conference attendee data and booth options.
There are fixed costs for every conference: your booth fee, printing, giveaways, merchandise, staff and travel. Don’t forget overnight accommodations for you and your team. Add these together, and you’ve got an estimated cost. Use this information to estimate ROI for each conference.
Goals and objectives
Write down your goals and objectives for the conference. How much product will you sell, how many appointments do you want to schedule or how many signups do you want for your newsletter? Decide in advance and set goals to make the effort worthwhile.
You need an eye-catching booth to draw people in and convince them to hear your pitch. A video loop of your product in production or a demo of your platform are great strategies. Work with your branding in color and style to design signage, tablecloths and banners. Ask if the conference organizers provide booth seating, electrical, technology or trash can (and the costs). A welcoming booth allows potential customers to step in and learn something – maybe even sit down or charge their phone, depending on the conference setting.
Plan a place for a badge scanner and physical signups. Both mean you won’t miss any possible customers or clients. A giveaway is another strategy to gather business cards or email addresses for later follow-up.
Staffing your booth
Be prepared for the conference by having enough staff to help in the booth. Remember that people will need breaks or will want to attend speaker sessions, join workshops and browse other booths.
Set a specific schedule of who will be in the booth and what times they will be there. Give each person a copy of the written schedule and review it with the whole team. Include contact information on the schedule.
Train your team on what to say and do when people approach them: provide your elevator speech, common questions and answers, along a way to reach you if needed. If the conference has a badge scanner, make sure everyone knows how it works and tests the program beforehand.
Social media plan
Prepare a social media plan to promote your booth before, during and after the conference. Use consistent branding on your social media graphics. Make it easy for people to find you – include lots of pictures of your booth and your booth number. Prepare your captions in advance, so your messaging is clear, and you don’t have to worry about time-consuming writing.
If you plan to post live during the conference, prepare the graphics for keynote speakers in advance. Mix in videos and pictures from the conference with your prepared content. (Make sure to review the organizer’s policies, though – some forbid recordings of speakers.) Check if the conference has a media kit to help you promote your business. These can include graphics and templates, caption suggestions, hashtags, usernames and more.
Collateral for the conference
Will you have business cards, flyers, infographics and other print materials for people to take with them after visiting your exhibitor booth? A QR code and site landing page allows for the distribution of materials without printing costs. Some people prefer an item in their hand, while others want to look online. Try to find a mix between both.
Conferences are the ideal place to network with other women entrepreneurs and speakers, not just meet customers. Make time to circulate around the other booths and take down speaker information. Meet other women entrepreneurs and thought leaders. Have your business cards ready to share.
Complete any paperwork, schedule social thank yous or followup, send a newsletter welcoming new subscribers and prepare for appointments. Reach out to people who are interested in what you do. These warm leads are excellent prospects for future business.
For tips on marketing, read 4 Marketing Automation Strategies to Try Today.