How to Rock a Conference Without an Events Team
May 10, 2017
Above: A tweet from one of our customers that demonstrates the effectiveness of our most recent conference.
Conferences. The thorns in many of our sides. Should you go? Will it be worth it? How do you measure the cost/benefit of time out of the office and money spent? Are conferences really the best way to promote your product and how do you get the most of a conference without an events team? It depends on the industry, of course, but for us, the answer is yes—conferences are absolutely worth it. However, when we launched Language I/O in 2012, the answer would have been less clear-cut.
At the end of April 2017, we returned from the Oracle ModernCX conference. The conference is designed to showcase the best in customer relationship management (CRM) systems, systems that allow companies to manage and support customers while also improving customer service. For us, this type of conference makes sense. Our product suite, Linguist Now®, has CRM integration with Oracle and Salesforce so customer support agents can translate communications with customers in real time. We have attended similar conferences hosted by both Salesforce and Oracle annually, but this is the first year we’ve had major success at one of these conferences.
Not only was the traffic to our booth non-stop, but the quality of traffic was unprecedented. Prospects that we’ve been targeting for some time came specifically looking for us, wanting to have demos! As we follow-up on all these leads, we’re already seeing results. The companies that were interested in demos are also actively pursuing our products so they can get them into production, which is a substantial change to our sales cycle.
For us, this conference was a major milestone. Seeing that we were the busiest booth in the area confirmed what we had hoped for—we had created a winning formula for success. Because the conference world is such a difficult one to navigate, we thought we’d share some tips about how we finally rocked a conference without having our own events team.
Tip 1: We Never Gave Up
The learning curve at our first conference was steep. We weren’t sure what to do with our booth, which of our team members needed to attend which keynotes and sessions, or how we were supposed to interact with potential clients while also running the company back home.
We fumbled through the first conference, got better at the second and continued to improve as we learned and adjusted. With each conference, we became more adept at knowing what needed our immediate attention and what could wait; where our time was best spent; and how we could best engage with potential customers.
Tip 2: We Listened to Our Customers
We never would have made it to conference two or three if we didn’t listen to our customers.
While we certainly don’t roll out new products at each conference, the customer feedback we receive at each conference influences how we change and introduce new products. At this last conference, we officially launched our multilingual customer support chat product, LinguistNow® Chat. LinguistNow® Chat allows companies to provide real-time, multilingual chat support inside several major platforms including Salesforce and Oracle Service Cloud.
We thought LinguistNow® Chat would be a huge hit at the conference and we were right. Why? Because we developed LinguistNow® Chat based on customer need.
Tip 3: We Built a Great Team
The first conference we attended was a two-woman show. Because we had just launched, we had to run headquarters while also engaging with prospects at the conference. Needless to say, we were pulled in more directions than we could manage.
Over the years, we’ve developed a strong team that we trust. We trust the team in the office when we’re at conferences and we trust the new team members we’ve invited to attend conferences with us. Now when the two owners are at a conference, they can focus on building client relationships while other LIO team members attend sessions and manage the booth.
Tip 4: We Did Our Homework
For us, doing homework went hand-in-hand with building a great team. By building capacity before each conference, we were able to assign homework to more people. This time around we developed what turned out to be a very effective list of prospects.
Tip 5: We Captured Customers On Site
It’s one thing to speak with prospects at a conference, but what are you doing to engage them in your product?
We’ve learned over the years that demonstrations are one of the most effective ways to not only keep a prospect at a booth, but to also engage them in a way that they ask for a follow up. Before our conferences, we develop short, concise demos that we run non-stop at our booth. We use this to pull prospects into the booth. In addition, we do customized demos to showcase our entire product set. That way each demo targets a prospect’s specific needs and answers questions relating to their specific environment.
If you’ve just started attending conferences and you don’t have an events team, our advice to you is hang in there. In our experience, if you put in the work and practice patience, conferences definitely pay off over time.
If you have a good conference tip, tweet us @languageio.