There are lots of ways to market your business. You know this. You know how to market yourself well on Facebook (and all of the other social media portals). You know that your website is perfect. You’re confident in your content marketing skills. You might even be really great at cold calling and your most recent ad buy made you more than you spent. That’s great! But do you know how to really market yourself and your business at events?
Most entrepreneurs and small business owners think that there are only two ways to market a company at an event: to be the host of the event or to be an attendee of the event. There are definite benefits to both: hosting or throwing a conference–especially if it goes well–means that all of the attendees will be introduced to your company and your products and services. When you simply attend a conference or convention, there is a lot less pressure. You can “spot target” networking opportunities and form connections one at a time.
But what if there was another way to use these events as a way to promote and market your business? It really doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Being a Sponsor
Putting together a conference or convention is expensive. There are space rental fees, guest speaker fees, costs for swag and meals…you get the idea. This is why, a lot of the time, the company hosting the event will open up “space” for sponsors. Sponsors are usually given VIP status at the event–allowed in spaces regular attendees are not. They are also often given premium ad space in things like programs and prominently featured on branded signage and other event marketing materials. You might even be invited to contribute to the event’s swag bag. It’ll cost some extra money, but your logo will be seen and your company’s name will be heard by everybody there.
Use the App
Most event organizers have stopped limiting their programming information to printed materials. They also use apps. Running sponsorships on an events conference app is a great way to reach people you might not have been able to reach otherwise. Sometimes, you can even work out a sponsorship deal so that the app itself is branded with your company name. For example, your event organizer will tell people to “make sure to download the [YOU] event app to…”
Even if you aren’t sure you want to buy digital advertising space, making prodigious use of an event’s app as an attendee is important. The best apps allow conference attendees to connect with each other, to leave feedback for speakers and exhibitors, to ask questions, etc. It’s a great way to form preliminary connections with people you might not actually get to see in person (or might not have otherwise been introduced to in person).
Just because you might not be able to afford to sponsor the event or buy exhibitor’s space doesn’t mean you have to simply be a passive attendee. Put together a meetup at a nearby coffee shop. Give out your own branded swag to anybody and everybody who crosses your path. If you are musical in any way, set up a ninja gig within or close to the event space. Offer to help an exhibitor with his or her booth in exchange for allowing you to promote some of your own materials and services while you are there. There are lots of ways to increase engagement as an event attendee. Get creative!
Events are a fantastic way to promote your company, network with other entrepreneurs and members of your audience and build your brand. Whether you’re the organizer, a speaker, an exhibitor or are doing your own thing–make sure that you aren’t just sitting by and waiting for people to notice you. The more active you are, the better (and more fun) the event will be.