Add Value, Not Self Promotion to Get Conference Attention

Blurred, defocused background of public event exhibition hall. Business trade show or commercial activity concept

AIM is over, but NAA is coming. For our supplier partner clients, conference season means promotion season. But getting the attention of apartment owner/operators isn’t a Field of Dreams scenario.

“Build a booth and they will come” is not at all how it works, because, if we’re honest, we know hitting the trade show floor isn’t the first thing on the list for most owner/operators. They want to schedule meetings to get business done, network with their peers and even hit the evening festivities before even thinking about walking the trade show floor to collect tchotchkes that inevitably ends up a victim of sibling rivalry when it gets home to the kids.

But all is not lost — you can get their attention during conference season. All you have to do is add value that makes their businesses better. Easier, said than done. Here are some tips that can help you add value:

Data, data, data.
Most supplier partners have a vast sea of data somewhere within the dark labyrinth of their untapped databases. It’s not easy to get to the data, let alone to make sense of it. But a lot of this data can be invaluable to your clients and prospective clients, or at the very least interesting enough to create a conversation with property managers.

You just have to find the right data and make sure it would be valuable to your clients. Don’t make the mistake of using data that points back to how you’re better than your competitors. This isn’t the time to share your client satisfaction scores. Select thought leadership data that teaches owner/operators something about themselves or about their residents that they can use to improve operations. If this points back to them needing to use the type of product you offer, that’s even better. But don’t force this, they will see right through that.

Creativity is King
The standard trade show model looks a little like this:

  • Get a big enough booth
  • Give something cool away
  • Send an email to everyone to let them know you’re giving something cool away
  • Host a party

Sure, this model can work often if you’re giving away the coolest thing at the conference, spending the most money possible on the party and inundate attendees with emails and app reminders. But most of you don’t have the resources to do all of those things or even one of them.

That’s where creativity comes in. Don’t just host a party at the swankiest restaurant in town. Get the chef at decent restaurant to make a custom dessert named after your company, product or most well known personality. Don’t just get the biggest booth in the best position on the trade show floor, incorporate a theme and get everyone to play the part. Don’t just send a hundred emails. Give your clients something they can wear that clearly points back to you and offer to give them a prize if they wear it on the show floor.

It’s not rocket science. But it is creativity. Put your right brain to work with your team to come up with ideas that work for you.

Stay Strategic
Among those who do get creative, the most common mistake they make is straying from strategy. Rather than looking at every promotional effort as a way to emphasize a differentiator or key message, they look solely at what clients might consider cool.

The result: they give away an Alexa instead of a Ring Doorbell despite that they sell IT security services. Even when trying to attract attention to your booth, you should keep the main thing, the main thing. There are plenty of cool giveaways that will fit almost any company’s key messages.

No matter the size of your company or budget, you can get attention at every conference in the right way by utilizing data, being creative on messaging and staying strategic in how you deliver your data-driven, value-add message.

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