Start with Your Goal
Before deciding on conference sponsorships or add-on opportunities, you must determine your goal for the meeting. Is it booth traffic, scientific podium time, brand visibility, generating a buzz?
If you are a brand-new company, you need to make a splash. You need your logo EVERYWHERE. Send as many representatives as you can. Each one is a walking billboard. If you were at the APMA National this year in Denver, no doubt you noticed a new brand called Arize. They are a HP 3D printed custom orthotic. In Denver, their logo, message, and product snapshot was EVERYWHERE. They also had at least 20 staff members there, all wearing logo shirts and wandering around smiling at everyone. Certainly, this splash likely cost a pretty penny, but it must’ve worked because here I am talking about it four months later! KUDOS ARIZE!
If you are an established company with a new product or service, you need to focus on opportunities that allow you to call attention to the featured product, not necessarily your company logo. Your goal is to capture the attention of not only new customers, but also your loyal/current customers. They need to see that you now offer something new they should learn more about. Logo placement options are not going to work here. You need to invest in opportunities that allow you to include messages and product images. Consider large-scale branding opportunities such as meter boards and banners. Digital opportunities that will work for you include email communications which allow you to include images, copy, and perhaps a testimonial highlighting your shiny new offering. Investing in a lunch-and-learn or other type of “podium” time will also accomplish this.
If you are an established company and do not have a new product or service to highlight, you need to remind your audience why they should be doing business with you and also ensure they are familiar with your complete product line; including older, lesser-known products. Rethink your booth layout so it looks different from previous events. Try a new color on your tablecloth, a fresh backdrop, or simply place your table differently. For example, many exhibitors place their table at the front of the booth, arrange their products on top, and stand behind the table ready to greet attendees. Instead, push the table to the back of your booth, arrange your products on top, and stand at the front of your booth, in front of the table (not behind). Hold a lesser-known product in your hand while you smile and greet attendees. You never know – they may just ask you what it is and, voilá!; a meaningful conversation ensues. Consider hosting a loyalty or appreciation event for your existing customers while at the conference. Invite them to bring a colleague along. This gives your reps the chance to chat with new and old customers, as well as highlight some of your “oldie-but-goodie” products.
Don’t forget! Whatever you choose to invest in, you must accept responsibility for its success. You cannot rely solely on the conference organizers to promote your participation as well as you could. Send email blasts, send postcards, spread the word!