Hosting conferences is one of the best ways to promote your business and increase your brand exposure. According to Bruce Carlisle, former CEO of ConferenceHound.com, a staggering 40 million Americans attend a convention, trade show or conference each year. A successful conference requires meticulous planning and immaculate execution.
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty of conference strategy, let’s discuss the three most crucial steps of hosting a conference.
Setting Business Goals: Every successful conference has a specific goal. For example, some companies want to attract a certain number of attendees while others aim at fostering a relationship with association members. Setting your business goals will help you plan your conference strategy easily and accurately.
Determining Budget: Knowing the budget for your conference helps you build an effective conference strategy. With a higher budget, you can ramp up your marketing efforts and attract as many attendees to your conference as possible. However, budgetary constraints will also help you go creative and explore untapped resources to plan a successful event.
Identifying Target Market: It’s essential to establish your target audience before you start promoting your conference. Create a profile of your ideal attendee and try to determine their demographics including age, education, and occupation. Furthermore, you can analyze their psychographics such as lifestyle and personal characteristics in order to dive deep into their interest level and explore the promotional channels to reach out to them for market your conference.
Conference Strategy Best Practices
Whether you’re hosting a huge gathering or a small conference, there are best practices to be followed to ensure a great experience for your attendees, giving them compelling reasons to keep coming back to your future events. The following conference strategy best practices will help you manage the various aspects of your business event and make it a runaway success.
Limit the Number of Days
A great conference is one where your guests will learn, network and, have fun at the same time. However, hosting events for longer days may not be the best idea since your guests might find it hard to sustain their enthusiasm. Typically, most successful conferences are held for two days which allow ample time for your company to showcase their vision while letting the guests have a good time.
Combine Presentation with Participation
Avoid planning too many powerpoint presentations as they may kill the enthusiasm and energy of your attendees. In fact, split your guests into small groups and conduct workshops to allow everyone to mingle with one another and have fun in the process.
Plan Some Mid Afternoon Activities
Mid Afternoon is a critical threshold in a day-long conference. It usually is the time when the energy starts declining and engagement level goes downward. Even if you’re hosting a two-day conference, don’t expect your attendees to sit through it and sustain their interest throughout the event. To ensure active participation from your guests, it’s important to include physical activities and workshops such as improv classes, mural painting, and non-profit work.
Similarly, don’t keep any heavy marketing presentations in the late afternoon or towards the end of the day. If you must, make them lightweight, fun and entertaining.
Make Presentation Succinct
Powerpoint presentations are a euphemism for boredom, however they are key to a conference. When you’re hosting a conference, you want to showcase your growth and share your company’s vision with your audience. However, try to make them succinct, to the point and, if possible, a little fun. For example, if a presentation has ten projects to review, each one of those should answer why you’re doing it, their benefits to the customers, and the milestones. When it comes to powerpoint presentations, the rule of thumb is to allow a maximum of ten minutes.
Theme for Conference
The theme for a conference gives it a personality and makes your message more appealing for the attendees. In fact, your conference theme reflects the overall mission of your company for the year. Keep the theme a little catchy such as “Turn up the volume” if you want to, for example, promote the importance of increased sales. Additionally, you can present your guests with a gift that is tightly tied to your theme -- in this case, a pair of headphones would complement your theme.
Conduct a post-event Survey
After putting so much of your efforts into hosting a business conference, it’s important to explore how much your guests like it and whether they have any feedback for you to improve it further. To allow your conference attendees to offer their feedback, conduct a post-event survey and collect ideas to improve the conference next year. Prepare your study so that it reach your guests quickly after the event concludes.
Popular business conferences tend to leave the attendees charged with full of enthusiasm and inspiration. By planning and executing your ideas properly, there’s no reason why you can’t build a solid business conference strategy.