Keynotes vs Keychains: Conference Sales Strategy

I have been attending industry trade events and conferences regularly for over a decade.   I’ve attended as a vendor, keynote speaker, panelist, association member, registered attendee and guest.  I’ve also supported the planning and event details around both client user conferences and annual sales training events.

I love conferences.  I value the networking and touch point it provides for my professional relationships.  I welcome the opportunity to expand my network and share ideas and work product with people who might have aligned interest.  I always look forward to the professional development opportunity it provides  and attend as many live sessions as my schedule will allow.

However, part of the event experience I never enjoyed as a vendor was “booth duty.”  I’ve logged hours upon hours in the vendor exhibit hall scanning the conference pass, perfecting my elevator speech and trading a trinket for the business card of a non qualified leads.  While the exhibit and industry association sponsorship are important, the lead generation rarely happened during the mad rush.  Nope.  It happened outside.

The deals happen over dinner, drinks and pre-arranged calls with pre-qualified leads.  If you are a sales organization that wants to accelerate event marketing ROI make sure you send in the closers who have an entire agenda planned outside the exhibit.  They are often a different breed and may detest time spent stuffing plastic bags with corporate keepsake.

If you are a vendor with relevant solutions, strategy and case study worthy content you may be ready for the main stage (or at least qualify to lead a good breakout session).  By contributing content and value to the community you’ll differentiate yourself from the competition and elevate awareness around the organization.  And you’ll soon begin to realize a lot more return from incorporating a keynote strategy into your event marketing efforts. It’ll beat handing out glow in the dark key chains every time!

Laurie Ruettimann does rather entertaining videos on conference swag that reminded me of the time I was shipped boxes of toe nail clippers from corporate (complete with our logo) to hand out at a trade event.  True story.  Think it may have been about that time I decided that keynoting had to be better than key chains (or toe nail clippers). I was right.

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