Once thought of as only a corporate event, conferences are now being used by both B2B and B2C companies for everything from gaining investors to launching new products. The term ‘conference’ simply refers to a meeting of people with similar interests, so you can see how this would encompass a number of meeting types. In fact, there are now so many different types of conferences, it’s easiest to just list them, which we’ve done, below:
Types of conferences
- Press Conference – these are designed to allow the media to gather and report on a specific topic and ask questions. A press conference can be held by a company hoping to gather interest in a new product or service, for instance.
- Breakout Session – these are usually part of a larger conference and are meetings of smaller groups who have an interest in a more narrow topic associated with the overall topic (i.e., a group of cardiologists meeting to discuss a new cardiology product at a medical conference).
- Workshops – workshops are all about an industry leader teaching a small group of people a particular skill. These can be anything from jewellery making to anger management in the workplace.
- Trade Shows – also known as consumer shows, exhibition or expo, these types of ‘conferences’ showcase a range of products or services from a specific industry or field to the general public and/or other businesses. These can include agricultural businesses, arts and crafts, carpentry etc.
- Convention – usually held annually, conventions showcase products or services and often feature keynote speakers holding presentations on the specific field of interest the conference is about. Conventions are very often for fans of a particular concept (e.g., Comic-con).
- Board Meetings – involves a company’s board of directors meeting to discuss progress, issues or upcoming projects.
- AGM (Annual General Meeting) – This is a meeting that allows shareholders to address the board of directors or elect a new board.
- Conclave – a conclave is a ‘closed door’ secretive meeting between influential or powerful people.
- Congress – not only in reference to the legislative branch of American government, a congress is also a regular meeting between stakeholders to debate or vote on issues or discuss important decisions.
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities for companies to promote their brand in a variety of different ways and to different audience types and the potential is only limited by your imagination. If you’re a speaker, stall holder or similar at a conference, you’re in a star position to get your brand out there, but even if you’re just an attendee, you can still work the room, so to speak. Here’s how:
Improve Your Brand as a Speaker or Stall Holder
If you are a speaker or stall holder, you’ll be talking to an audience either in one go, or over the course of a day or more. Don’t ever go into a conference with no plan – even if you’re a stall holder, ensure you have a practiced script you can use to charm your potential customers. Here are a few tips on how to do this:
Dress to impress – people respond well to brands that give the impression of having money. Even if you’re a very small business owner selling a handmade item, if you dress to impress, you will.
Keep it simple – when writing a script, don’t try to dazzle your audience with big, complicated words or concepts. Don’t forget that half the world’s population has below average intelligence, so be sure to make everything you say highly understandable but not boring.
Personalise – use people’s first names and other personal (but not overly personal) information whenever you can and if you’re a speaker, try to make your audience feel like they’re having a conversation with you, rather than just hearing a presentation. If you can get the audience to interact or involve them in other ways, you’ll be more memorable.
Use humour if appropriate – if you’re a speaker, you should aim to entertain your audience, as well as educate them and stall holders can do the same on a smaller level. Humour is always a winner (unless your product or service isn’t compatible with humour). You’ll be more memorable if you can make your audience laugh.
Provide Value – the people who listen to you are taking the time to hear you (and often paying for the privilege), so don’t waste their time. Ensure you educate them about something relevant, teach them why your product or service can benefit them or add some other type of benefit to each interaction.
Answer questions – when your potential customers ask a question, ensure you actually answer them without going into an irrelevant tangent. There’s nothing that breaks trust quicker than a deflected question, so even if it’s a negative question, you’ll garner respect by answering honestly. If you’re a speaker, leave time for questions at the end of your session.
Improve Your Brand as an Attendee
It may seem silly, but you can certainly promote your brand and build valuable relationships as an attendee networking at conferences, especially for B2B companies. Some ways to do this include:
Work the floor – Don’t be shy! From the moment you arrive to the moment you leave, you should be initiating a natural-sounding conversation with anyone you can. Chat about your brand to the people seated next to you, the people who serve you at lunch, the doorman and anyone else you see. If you’re at a conference that features trade floors or other exhibits, visit as many booths as possible (even if you have no interest in their sales pitch) and be respectful, polite and interesting, even if you’re talking to a competitor. The more people who hear about your brand, the better, and even if you don’t gain many new customers, you’re bound to develop some valuable contacts.
Quality over quantity – despite the above tip, you should spend as much time as needed talking to and building business relationships with people who you feel a connection with or who are going to be beneficial to your brand. Yes, talk to as many as possible, but don’t skimp on adding value to the conversation for the sake of meeting more people.
Put your hand up – if you get the chance to be part of a presentation or interact in some other way as an audience member, why not take the chance to get your name out there? At the very least, you’ll likely be able to say who you are and what your brand is. Be helpful too, if you see someone who needs assistance, as people who help others are always memorable.
Keep the party going – well, sort of. If you get the chance to attend after-hours gatherings, this is always a great way of meeting people when they’re relaxed and having fun. This may be at an after-conference dinner, drinks, party or organised meeting based on specific interests. One word of caution though – don’t get drunk!
There are almost definitely other creative things you can do to get your brand out there at conferences, so why not sit down and have a brainstorm to gain ideas? Alternatively, you can host your own conference or other event and there’s no better way of doing this than by using our amazing Event Management software. The Swift Digital platform has everything you need to host an unforgettable event that’s guaranteed to increase your brand’s recognition. Call us on 1300 878 289 or click here and we’ll show you how.
If you have any questions or would like a free demo, Call us for a chat on 1300 878 289 or click here.