Headlining a business conference isn’t a privilege reserved exclusively for large corporations. Smaller companies can launch successful events that contribute to branding the organization as a thought leader among current and prospects alike.
Do you know how to time your inaugural event? Or if you already host an event, is it time to transition from a company-specific meeting to an industry conference? It all depends on balancing several factors to ensure that your benefits outweigh the costs of repositioning your program.
Measure Client Interest
One of the primary goals of a public industry function, as with any event, is to make face-to-face connections with your current and prospective clients. Your marketing and sales experts are working hard to showcase your product’s problem-solving capabilities by phone and email, but nothing is more effective than showing off your product’s effectiveness or industry and service knowledge first-hand.
As you demonstrate the solutions your company offers, share industry news and describe best practices from a variety of perspectives, you gain clients’ trust as a thought leader. The relationships you build through an industry-leading celebration will be more successful long-term than those limited by long-distance communication.
Of course, holding a big bash before you can attract attendees is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking. Conduct a realistic assessment of the number of participants you can expect. Then hold off on a major event until the numbers balance against your investment. In the interim, consider smaller, consumer-focused networking opportunities like workshops and seminars to build relationships and branding.
Clarify Your Goals
Some events create revenue through sponsorships, vendors and paid advertising. Others forgo such income in favor of building relationships that will bring in future revenue in the form of new customers and investors. Clarify your organization’s goals before attempting to plan an event to ensure a consistent message for potential attendees.
Ensure You Can Exceed Expectations
You don’t have to serve lobster and caviar in a five-star hotel for participants to give you rave reviews, but you must meet or exceed certain basic expectations to build clients’ trust. The location must be convenient and comfortable with appropriate parking, climate control and restrooms.
Meals and snacks can be simple and inexpensive if you present them in an appealing manner and offer a sufficient quantity. Finally, you must prepare and test all your technology tie-ins so that they're ready to go. Nothing is more off-putting than delays due to basic technological glitches.
If you aren't confident that you can successfully meet these criteria, then wait until you have the resources to guarantee the basics. Or bring in a pro to help bring the event logistics and technical elements to life. Companies like say, Cramer, are happy to make you the star of the show and help craft the industry-centric experience that you, your brand, and likely your audience is craving.
Finally, before giving the green light to an industry-leading event, be sure that attendance adds value for participants. Introduce new information or product features, offer training and development and showcase leaders in your field to share exclusive insights.
The purpose of your event is to inspire conversation. Make sure your participants have something to talk about when they leave. A positive experience creates word-of-mouth advertising for future events, ensuring that you will enjoy continued success.
The bottom line is that launching an industry-leading event offers an excellent return on investment, as much as 5:1 by some measurements. Many organizations start small, growing quickly as demand increases. Through careful planning, these businesses transition from relative unknowns to industry leaders.