Even in today’s world dominated by social media and online interaction, many organizations still recognize the benefits of attending in-person industry conferences and tradeshows. Last year, HubSpot’s INBOUND Conference alone attracted over 19,000 attendees from around the world.
These conferences have obvious benefits. They allow attendees to listen to, talk to, and learn from industry experts and peers, and they offer a productive break from the day-to-day grind, often reinvigorating and reenergizing attendees about their work.
But from purchasing conference tickets to booking airfare and hotels, the cost of attending a conference can add up. To help extract more value from any event, organizations have often turned to sponsoring the conference or hosting a trade booth.
Sponsorship can help grow the number of contacts in your database, and trade booths can get your brand in front of a lot of foot traffic. But there’s another, more targeted, approach you can take to extract more value from industry conferences: hosting “microevents.” Think of these events as a sideshow to the main attraction. Your microevent will be separate from the conference itself, but it will take advantage of the fact that several high-quality prospects or customers from your market will likely be in the same place at the same time. By cutting back on conference sponsorships and trade booths, you can focus on hosting targeted, invite-only dinners or happy hours to help nurture prospects or strengthen relationships with valued customers.
Are you looking for more advice for where to get started with planning one (or many) of these events? We at Event Farm have hosted microevents ourselves—so we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for our best advice on how to successfully host these events yourself, and set your organization up to extract even more value from the next industry conference you attend.
1. Invite the right people. These events should be highly-targeted and include personal outreach. Get your customer success and sales teams involved to determine who from your list of high-value prospects or customers is likely to be at the conference, and work with them to coordinate a personalized outreach campaign.
2. Create a formal email invitation and registration page. Although your sales and customer success teams should personally reach out to invitees, you should first send a formal email invitation. As with any other event you would host, you want the invitation and reg page to be well-designed and on-brand, and you should also make it clear the copy of your invitation that your event will be small-scale, VIP, and invite-only. Remember, an event experience starts with an attendee’s first touch with the event—which, in most cases, is the invitation. This is a VIP event, and you should make that clear with your initial outreach.
3. Provide respite from the hectic conference schedule. Yes, your dinner is a business event, but it shouldn’t feel that way, and it shouldn’t be a sales pitch. Use the quality one-on-one time with your prospects and customers to get to know them and to build stronger relationships based on trust. If you’re able to create a relaxing, enjoyable experience for your guests, they will remember it after the conference, and they will associate your brand with something positive. This will create a strong point-of-conversation for your sales reps to use when they follow up with attendees, which will ultimately and hopefully result in more revenue for your company.
4. Make it easy on yourself. Assuming you will also be traveling to the conference, don’t try to rent out a venue that will require you to decorate or bring in a caterer. Instead, rent out bar space or reserve a large table at a restaurant near the conference venue. All you’ll have to do is coordinate the reservation ahead-of-time, then show up slightly ahead of time to put any last-minute details in place (like place cards).
5. Follow up—quickly. As with any other event or marketing initiative, you should follow-up with your attendees soon after the dinner. Don’t overwhelm them while you know they’re still busy at the conference, but make sure you’re staying top-of-mind by following up with them soon after the conference has ended.
6. Keep track of key metrics. Of course, you’ll want to know the return on your event’s investment. Keep track of how much you spend on the event, the potential in revenue from the prospects at your table, and the actual revenue that results from or is influenced by your dinner or happy hour. If you want, you can even include the cost of conference tickets, airfare, and hotel bookings in the total spend. Hopefully, your event will more than pay for the cost of attending the industry conference, and your organization will walk away with even more opportunities than an industry conference already provides.
Do you want more advice about how to host successful events? Check out our eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Successful Events.
Event pros, have you hosted small-scale events to get more out of your industry conferences? What are your best practices for doing so? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @eventfarm!