Whether it's your first outbound event or you're a seasoned trade show veteran, preparing for and thriving at these events can be an overwhelming process. We get it — at New Breed, we've been attending HubSpot's annual INBOUND conference for years, and we are actually just returning from INBOUND 2018. So to help you get the most out of your next event, our recent webinar covered several tips for preparing for and participating in conferences and trade shows.
New Breed's Guide to Thriving at Your Next Outbound Event
It's true that conferences and trade shows can be unique, exciting opportunities for learning the ins and outs of your industry and connecting with prospects — but attending these events shouldn't put you in the red. Before committing to any event, weigh your budget against the estimated expense of participating. Attending should have a positive impact on your ROI, otherwise it's a waste of your time and money.
To ensure you're getting the most out of your investment, establish a goal ROI for the event and work backward from that goal to identify your lead generation quota based on your lifecycle conversion rates. Assign that quota to each team member to hold everyone accountable to that goal.
How to Prepare
Once your entire team is aligned with your ROI goals, consider your SMART goals and long-term strategy as well. Maybe you're attending for the educational sessions, networking opportunities or lead generation — whatever the goal, ensure your entire team is on board and mindful of their time.
At New Breed, we like to stick to a healthy mix of of networking events, educational sessions and lead generation at our booth, so we provide specific schedules for each of our team members to make sure we're extracting the most value from our attendance.
Remember: Just because you're at a conference doesn't mean your work pauses. Don't forget about your work responsibilities, and plan ahead to make sure you're able to both deliver on your work and accomplish your goals for the conference. As a rule of thumb, we try to start planning at least a month prior to the event.
Lastly, spend your budget wisely. Too often, we see see attendees waste their budgets on purchasing tons of goofy promotional items and paper pamphlets and not enough on high-quality sales enablement assets. The reality is that these types of items tend to get thrown out or forgotten about shortly after the conference, so make sure you're spending your money on something your connections will remember.
Obviously, conferences and trade shows provide ample opportunities for connecting with prospects and generating leads. To ensure you're making the right, high-quality connections, establish an on-the-spot qualification process and workflow for lead generation — and make sure that every team member in attendance is equipped to execute on that qualification process by holding trainings prior to the event.
For example, we held a bootcamp leading up to INBOUND 2018 to ensure that all of our team members, even those outside of the sales team, are prepared to have meaningful prospecting conversations at our booth. The keyword here is conversation: try to determine your prospects' needs and pain points while you talk, but be natural and genuine to avoid it feeling like an interrogation.
On a similar note, it's important to be mindful of your prospects' time as well. Be able to demonstrate the value of your product or service to prospects quickly and clearly. This is a great way to not only demonstrate our expertise in demand generation, but also provide tangible benefits to our prospects.
After that demonstration of value, it's important to establish a secondary call-to-action and follow-up plan to keep that engagement rolling. For example, we'll be inviting prospects to book a meeting with one of our sales representatives to discuss the results of their assessment in depth as a next step. Post-conference, reach out to your leads again with specific, personalized, contextually relevant content.
Why should you attend INBOUND?
Obviously, INBOUND is one of the largest marketing conferences out there, making it an important conference for marketers across industries to get together and have real, valuable conversations. Whether you're there to generate leads, network with other B2B marketers or look for new products and services, there's a tremendous amount of value to be gained from attending the conference — but where you gain that value depends on you and your goals.
"Even though NB uses it for [lead] generation and having those conversations," said Karin during the webinar, "the thing for me personally that's been so valuable is the learning experience, connecting with people who are attending sessions and thinking through some of the educational topics that are really moving our industry forward right now."
"Also," added Amanda, "it's just a lot of fun."
Key Takeaway: Thrive at Outbound Events with an Inbound Mentality
The key to successfully engaging at an outbound event is strategizing from an inbound perspective. Once you've forecasted your ROI and established smart goals for the conference, show up prepared to have engaging, meaningful conversations with prospects, professionals and industry experts.
Remember, getting the most out of a conference or trade show doesn't have to be overwhelming. Follow the tips we discussed, and you'll be well on your way to having an insightful, valuable and enjoyable experience at your next outbound event.