ISTE, SXSW EDU, FETC, ATIA, TCEA – once you’ve navigated the alphabet soup of education conferences and determined your event lineup, it’s important to strategize about how to make the most of your investment. Education conferences provide an exceptional opportunity to meet face-to-face with current and prospective customers, business partners, education journalists and more. To maximize the impact of these encounters, your education marketing team should think beyond in-the-moment conversations.
Building relationships at conferences yields benefits that are valuable, but often difficult to measure. Meeting with a journalist briefly can lead to later coverage, but it’s challenging to guarantee these results. Pre- and post-conference marketing initiatives provide your education marketing team with an actionable roadmap to secure and track results.
Here are strategic steps your team should take to see a concrete return on a tradeshow.
1. Plan meetings with existing leads in advance
It might sound obvious, but planning meetings prior to the conference will make conversations more productive. Take the preemptive step to schedule time with a longstanding customer or warm lead to show they’re your top priority. While setting up these meetings, you also may learn a critical piece of information, like the district is looking for a solution to plan student interventions. Now you’ll have time to prep for that conversation, rather than scrambling to think of a solution in the moment.
Scheduling media meetings also gives you the chance to do some pre-conference research to secure coverage post-conference. Review the journalist’s recent stories, and identify topics of interest that are in line with your organization and product. Bringing a concrete story idea to journalists will yield more results than a rehearsed elevator pitch about your product or company.
2. Secure contact information
Conferences provide an ideal opportunity to populate your pipeline. Whether meeting a CTO in the exhibit hall, or a journalist during happy hour, be sure to capture contact information and secure permissions to send the latest insights and news from your team.
3. Hook them with a freebie
Throw in a bonus to sweeten the deal. For prospective customers, you might provide a free month’s subscription or the chance to win a gift card in exchange for email addresses. This will be extra enticing for prospects who see your product in the exhibit hall and want to try it in their classroom. For journalists, exclusive rights to upcoming news could sway them to cover your company after the conference.
4. Share post-conference insights
Post-conference insights can take many forms. Your team might share slides from a session, a blog post with educator quotes or a brief list of big-picture takeaways. Any of these options can be an effective touchpoint for potential customers. When you share these insights, target both leads who attended the conference and those who missed it.
5. Keep the thread alive
In many cases, one follow-up email is not enough to convert a lead or land a feature story after a conference. Take thorough notes of your conference encounters to inform touchpoints for months to come. For example, if a district recently applied for a grant, check in with them in the upcoming months to learn about their implementation. Maintaining these relationships will strengthen the potential impact of your conference efforts. It often feels like there’s simply not enough time during conferences to accomplish everything your marketing team wants to get done. Pre- and post-conference initiatives allow you to extend ongoing conversations, and measure the ROI for each conference registration. Take the time to develop these strategies to get the most out of your event dollars.
Are you pulling together ISTE marketing plans yet? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional education marketing insights.