This year's Enterprise World conference is once again almost upon us, and for those of us in the OpenText partner world its time to dust off the tradeshow booth and pull out our finest branded polo shirts ready for a trip down to Orlando.
Over the last year OpenText have talked a lot about the Digital-First World - the new enterprise landscape where the technological advances and digitalization of data exchange will rewrite the rules of information management. It will be interesting to see how that vision is developed on the main stage as the show commences.
Call me a veteran if you will, but personally this will be my 15th year at the event. Over the years I have seen countless of companies, just like yours, exhibiting their products and services. Some have done an outstanding job (remember the Star Trek themed cartoonist last year?), and others were less memorable.
When you’re spending such a large part of your annual marketing budget on this one event you want to make sure it’s a success. So for that reason I thought I would finally get around to pulling together a post sharing a few of my tips on how to make the most of this networking event.
Attract Your Audience Before the Event
Before you book your ticket to Orlando, you need to make sure that you have done your homework. When planning for an event like this there are a few simple questions that will help you get a long way.
- Who are you targeting? Remember, not everyone at the conference owns OpenText BPM, ECM or whatever your solution supports. Don’t leave visitors to guess, ‘ cos they’ll quickly be moving on to the next booth.
- What is the unique value of your product(s) or service(s) Yes, we know you sell OpenText services, but so does just about everyone else in the room. Be exact, and give visitors as reason to come over a chat. “We’re the leading service provider to the Energy industry”, “We’re specialist Content Server upgrade partners”. You get the idea.
- Who already uses your services?This event is all about networking, so make sure you know who your current customers are and what they do with your solution, so that you can connect them with your prospects whilst you’re on-site.
- If you had to sell your own product or service to yourself, what are the top three benefits and/or features you will outline? Ok, you’ve already done the first part of this as by now you will have chosen your bullets for your booth, but make sure that you follow up with content which explains what those points in more detail.
- Have you figured out how to best communicate those messages to your prospects?
These are all questions you (hopefully) asked yourself months ago.
Once you know what you will showcase at this years’ Enterprise Expo, you need to figure out how to attract the right people to your booth – after all, what’s the point of spending so much time, energy and resources on being there, if your prospects don’t find you?
So next up here are a few tried and tested techniques that can help you attract your audience before you even arrive in Disneyland:
Send an email blast: You are probably sitting on a pretty long list of people who have attend the conference in the past. Dig into your existing contacts and send them an email announcing your presence at the Enterprise Expo. Make sure to include a marketing offer inside your email – this could be a link to an engaging blog post directly related to your presence at the conference will do. Or it could be a landing page inviting your guests to register for a personal meeting or a VIP evening meal. Whatever you do, let people know you are on top of this event and you have something valuable to offer!
Content: Set aside few blog posts that directly talk about Enterprise World. Make sure you include details of the value that your product or service offers to the OpenText ecosystem. You could also use tools such as SlideShare to post up a teaser presentation.
Social media: Last year the #OTEW14 hashtag trended on Twitter, but you don’t have to wait for it to start trending again this year before you begin engaging with your audience on social media. Use the upcoming weeks to reach out to your prospects through the various social media channels and make them aware that there are people behind that online facade.
Keep Your Prospects Engaged at Your Booth
Ok, so we’re in Disneyland and this is OpenText talking about the future of Enterprise Information Management… I’m guessing that even the most hardcore ECM-guru’s amongst you would like to reboot and take a short break from the intensity of the event from time to time. And your booth should be the ideal place to do that!
The Enterprise Expo is a great place for networking - a lot of people choose this spot not just to socialize, but also to explore what OpenText’s partners have to offer. Don’t overwhelm your booth visitors, instead engage them in a casual conversation, offer something that will entertain and give them a reason to stop by, let them forget about the conference for a while and enjoy few laughs. Do you remember how fun was getting your Star Trek cartoon last year? How great it was to get a nice massage? Or going back further there was the pirate and of course the infamous Karaoke machine… Yes, that’s what I am talking about. Be creative and when people hang around your booth long enough, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to engage them with your brand.
To make sure your booth is appealing enough for people to stop by and hang around long enough, you have to combine creativeness with a bit of craziness. Offer a fun game, competition or something that relates to pop culture (any Game of Thrones fans in the house?). While you must appear professional when showcasing your company, introducing something that isn’t directly related to your line-of-business will attract more attention.
Oh and of course - don’t forget the hashtag (#OTEW14) - follow the conversations, engage with other participants and invite them to your booth or to your customer breakout sessions via Twitter.
Post-Enterprise World Fever: The Importance of Response Time
As soon as you get back behind the desk, you have plenty of work to do! First you’re going to need to sort through all those contacts you generated from this years’ conference. Make sure that you write them all a follow-up email sent through a marketing tool. With information about who actually reads and engages with your mail you will better understand who were really the hottest leads.
Based on the responses you get, begin segmenting your newly acquired contacts. Needless to say, those who are most willing to buy should be your top priority. And then, it’s nurturing time!
- Enterprise World 2014 recap email blast: Based on your niche, put together a recap content piece that highlights the future trends of the industry and make it business specific (e.g. - if you are developing enterprise mobility solutions for OpenText end users, this should be the focus of your content asset). Email it to your contacts as a summary of the event;
- Nurturing programmes: Based on where your newly generated prospects are in their buying journey, start the implementation of carefully planned nurturing programmes that will help them move down the funnel and by mid-Q1 you will close some fresh deals.
- Social media engagement: Just because the conference is over, it doesn’t mean you should suddenly drop your social media presence. Continue to actively curate interesting and informative content, outreach your original articles and never stop engaging with your audience online!
Last but not least, the most important thing to remember is that Enterprise World is but one week out of 52. You have placed a lot of time and effort into ensuring that this event was a success, so don’t let that go to waste by doing nothing over the remainder of the year. Stay in touch with your new contacts; engage and nurture them until they are ready to move further and you can be guaranteed that this year’s event will deliver.
I look forward to seeing you all in Orlando in a few short weeks!