How to Drive More Booth Traffic at Education Conferences

By January 20, 2022No Comments

Bring prospects to your booth with this expert-approved strategy

With two major trade shows—FETC and TCEA—returning to in-person events this year, education conferences are expected to play a key role in companies’ marketing plans once again. In fact, a CB&A survey last summer found that 68 percent of business-to-education (B2E) marketers will attend education conferences in person this year if they’re able to. Renting booth space and paying for travel and expenses can add up fast, and it’s important for B2E marketers to optimize their investment.

In a recent CB&A Expert Series webinar, Matt Gambino, founder of PROPEL Skills Development, shared insights to help B2E marketers do just that—including a simple pre-conference strategy for encouraging prospects to visit your booth.

View the Webinar: Driving Sales at Education Conferences

Gambino noted that it’s common for marketers to use their LinkedIn page or other social media platforms to advertise their presence at an education conference with a generic statement like: We’re going to be at booth X at this year’s FETC. Swing by and say hello!”

“That’s not necessarily bad,” he said, “but it could be a lot better.”

Use prospect interlocks

Gambino recommended creating what he called “prospect interlocks” to give busy conference-goers more of an incentive to seek you out at the show. This involves finding some common ground, then coming up with a way for potential customers to realize the value in speaking with you about this topic.

There are three steps in the process:

  1. Find a conference session that has broad appeal and aligns with your business.
  2. Identify a common problem or challenge that can be solved with the help of the information in that session (this should be a problem that your product or service also addresses).
  3. Create an interlock that will encourage prospects to connect with you at the conference. “This is like ‘swing by and say hello’ on steroids,” Gambino said.

Apply the strategy

Gambino provided an example of this strategy in action, using the 2019 ASCD conference as his frame of reference.

Suppose your company provides a K-12 computer science solution that makes it easy to embed coding projects into any subject, with no special knowledge required. In looking for an applicable conference session, you find one titled “Code Equity: Keying Girls into Coding.” You take a quick look at the session description and see that it’s relevant to your business.

Then, you create a post on LinkedIn—or whatever social media platform(s) your prospects are most likely to use—highlighting a problem that you and the session both aim to solve. Your post might look something like this:

“Too many girls miss their peak opportunity to take coding in middle school. I won’t miss this #ASCD19 panel featuring Tara Linney…  and I can’t wait to show you at Booth 123 how [company] has helped thousands of teachers auto-inject computer science into their existing science curriculum—even if they’ve never written a line of code themselves. P.S.: Even if we miss each other at Booth 123, please download our free how-to guide…”

“After I lead with the problem,” Gambino said, “I’m going to make sure I put in a screenshot of the connector, which is the particular session. Also, tag the presenter in your post, because for all I hope, Tara is her own super connector. She might have 10,000 connections on LinkedIn. She’s going to appreciate that a reputable company is tagging her [and promoting her session] in a LinkedIn post. What I hope is that Tara picks this up on her own LinkedIn page and creates a return post for it.”

More powerful than just ‘swing by and say hello’

If users click on the link for the free asset at the end of the short post, they’re taken to a landing page that has two links: one for the asset itself, and one to an online scheduling app. With the scheduling app, users can schedule a quick, 10-minute meet-up at your booth.

Creating prospect interlocks positions you as an expert in your field, and it gives people a much more compelling reason to come to your booth than just “swing by and say hello.”

“It sounds like a heavy lift at the beginning,” Gambino said, “but I do this all the time—and the more you do it, the easier it gets.”

For more insights from Gambino on how to drive sales using education conferences, check out the full webinar here.