Creating Conference Swagger Without Being Swaggy

Anonymous business people at a trade fair

It’s that time of year again – conference season!

Multifamily executives across the country are working hard on their presentations for AIM, NAA Apartmentalize and preparing content for OPTECH. Multifamily supplier partner marketers and sales teams are setting meetings, crafting key messages and strategizing ways to make the conference experience unique for their target audiences.

This time of year is fun. It’s exciting. And it can also be stressful. But it doesn’t have to be. The more we can be proactive in conference management from themes, messaging and design, the more we are setting ourselves up to create conference swagger. Poor planning and mismanagement of the timing of these pieces can lead to just being swaggy.

Here are some key tips to ensure you are creating the right kind of conference experience for your teams and more importantly your customers and prospective customers.

Define a single theme – not a marketing message.
Yes, conferences are a key time to engage with customers and future customers. You will want to share the amazing new services and technologies you have created that will make their lives easier and put money back in their pocket. But here’s the thing, the supplier partner next to you and across the aisle will say the same thing.

By honing in a centralized theme designed to delight your target audiences, while supporting your overall value proposition, will feel less like a sales pitch and more like you are truly trying to solve a problem. If you are presenting at the conference, consider how you can utilize education content as part of your theme.

Once you have established an overall theme for each conference, determine how to best leverage that theme in all aspects of conference management. How can this theme be used in your booth design or your booth activity? And giveaways – is there a way to tie your theme into a useful product to give to those who come to your booth? Or maybe it is a larger, more impactful giveaway in which people have to register to win. Just don’t giveaway stuff because it has your brand on it.

Timing is everything.
Start planning early! There is nothing more stressful than trying to establish a theme and put that theme into action a week or two before the conference. By then you have already missed the boat. Let’s look at two key elements of conference management from a timing perspective: Marketing and booth design.

Marketing: When timing your marketing communications, remember you are competing against other supplier partners all trying to get attention. Things to remember:

  • Segment the attendee list! Not all who are attending are your target audience.
  • Deliver content in a teasing manner. Don’t just go for the kill and ask for a meeting.
  • Be fun, be creative but not cliché.
  • Consider starting your drip email campaigns six weeks before the conference with educational content first. Use case studies, testimonials and articles to show how your customers have solved pain points by using your product or solution.

Booth Design: After having been to my fair share of conferences in my 12 years with LTM, here are some ways to streamline your booth production and optimize its effectiveness:

  • Keep it simple. Utilize white space and keep your messaging to top line. Again, think about your theme and how it can be used to showcase your value proposition.
  • Consider digital. A relatively new trend in booth design eases the stressors of production timelines and schedules. Though costly, digital components can be eye-catching and messaging can be changed almost instantly. Think LED displays, TVs, and tablets to help create an interactive element to your booth to engage traffic.
  • Use your team. I am not just talking about uniforms or everyone wearing the same shirt color on a specific day. They need to be 100% engaged with attendees and not with each other. Also, get them walking the floor, not just staying in the booth. More conversations can be had outside your booth than you may realize.

If you leverage the tips above before hitting the conference floor this year, I bet you will walk onto that floor with swagger and not worry that you and your company may come off swaggy.

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