Earlier today, a colleague and I made the trip from Allentown to the ArtsQuest center in Bethlehem to attend the Lehigh Valley Marketing Expo (#LVMarketingExpo).
My reasons for attending were less about networking and not so much about learning some marketing strategies. Hubspot put up some GREAT recorded presentations from their famous Inbound 15 event that get the job done. My reason for attending was to analyze how others are putting on events and marketing them.
At my current job, we are beginning to focus on leveraging virtual webinar events that are educational in nature. The goal is to give people valuable insight into topics that align with our business. Then, throughout the follow up process after the webinar event, we provide them with additional content and resources, and an opportunity to reach out to us.
Even though in-person and virtual events are different, the lead-capture and follow-up process are INSANELY similar… pretty much identical.
Therefore, although I didn’t stay for every presenter at the Lehigh Valley Marketing Expo, I did leave with some lingering thoughts:
Thought #1: GREAT job at placing a hashtag in the event sign-up page and encouraging others to use it on social media.
Not many people were doing it, though. An hour before the event is over I did a quick scan of the hashtag #LVMarketingExpo on twitter. I saw a mere 11 tweets. L Only 5 pictures were on Instagram. I thought to myself, why aren’t the sponsors and vendors being aggressively active on this hashtag? Even if it was pretty barren, they could try and initiative conversations. Attendees were not very active, either. There were people from ALL different age groups. Therefore, I do not think a specific target market is the problem, here.
Some ideas I have that they can do for next year to improve social media engagement:
- Have a live, scrolling feed of social media posts that are using the hashtag. (People LOVE when they see their stuff being projected. Makes them feel cool.) This can be done through LED TV’s in the lobby area, and/or as the placeholder slide in between speaker presentations.
- Run CONTESTS using social media!!! This works especially well for sponsors.
- Designate someone to the LV Marketing Expo Social media accounts to focus on being aggressively live and active on social media.
Thought #2: NICE landing page design.
I love the speaker information on the page along with their pictures. The actual sign-up page was a bit confusing. I had a few colleagues send me messages asking how I signed up, because they were getting frustrated with the registration page, OR they didn’t know how. (The page also needs some work, but that’s not a big deal). I also like the email that was sent out the night before the event!
Some ideas I have that they can do for next year to improve the sign-up process:
- Try something else besides Active Calendar. Not sure if this was a WordPress plugin or not. I did some research and it doesn’t look like it is. Given that your event page is built in WordPress (I checked the website source), I recommend searching some other plugins for easy integration into the event page.
- Explain if you need to print the receipt or not. I had to run home to print out my ticket on the way over, only to arrive and realize a printed confirmation was not needed.
Thought #3: THANK YOU for showing us the schedule of speakers.
It was very helpful! I liked that it was on the paper we got but ALSO on a sign. Sometimes we have our hands full and can’t dig around for papers. One thing that we didn’t know ahead of time was how long each presentation was. For example, the keynote presentation lasted 30 minutes. That gave us an hour before the next speaker. To fill the time, one could browse through the exhibitors… but it’s not like there were so many it would fill each and every gap between the presentations.
Some ideas I have that they can do for next year to improve on the schedule:
- Have a scavenger hunt contest! Really encourage attendees to stop by all exhibitors. A scavenger hunt list could either be doing activities, finding items, or both. This would be fun for attendees and very valuable for exhibitors.
- Have mini-breakout sessions/workshops around specific topics when there will be large gaps between speaker presentations. 15-20 minutes is all that is needed. They can even be conducted by exhibitors. OR, sponsors can bring people in to do the mini breakout sessions. They don’t need to be expensive experts. They just need to be engaging. This will eliminate the awkward time in between each presentation if one ends earlier than anticipated. Don’t get me wrong- I understand that the gaps can be used for networking… but not every attendee wants to network in between each presentation when it can be a long amount of time. Plus, those who want to go for educational reasons would love to learn more.
- I saw a lot of people sitting around on the first floor because they had nothing to do. Perhaps sprinkle the lobby seating area with information and resources pertaining to the marketing expo. Think mini-articles supporting the presentations (research-based) or other pieces of interesting material.
Thought #4: What now!?
One thing I recently learned in my current job is that follow-up is CRITICAL to achieving your goal. It’s important to communicate up-front what the follow up is going to be. For example, will there be a follow-up landing page containing the presentation slide decks? Will there be pictures going up on social media (i.e. facebook) that you want us to look out for (and tag ourselves in)? Will anyone be following up with us to see if there are any opportunities to use google advertising in our own companies? I did not read anything along these lines from the event page and RSVP page. However, the event isn’t officially over until 7:00, so maybe we will see something then! J
Some ideas I have that they can do for next year to improve on the follow-up process *IF* they don’t do this afterwards:
- Write on the landing page that after the event concludes, attendees will be receiving a follow up email with a link to a follow up page containing the slide presentations, additional resources, case studies, etc.
- Have a clear next step call-to-action (CTA) on this page. One example is a to have a simple contact form where someone can fill out their information if they wish to further explore using google AdWords in their medium sized business, and the leading sponsor can follow up.
- There can also be some sponsor info here as well!
- Develop a second email campaign for those who registered but were not marked as ‘attended’.
- Offer them the same landing page link
- Even offer the same link to people who did not register and did not attend (Perhaps they wanted to go, and forgot to register. Maybe they want to go, but didn’t see the event info in time!)
- Offer them the same landing page link
Overall, this experience was positive for a smaller-scale event at a local campus. Great job to the event organizer(s)! Big thanks as well for the sponsors that made this event free for all attendees.
If you find yourself interested in speaking further about my marketing ideas, please reach out to me! Even if you did not organize nor attend the LV Marketing Expo event, these ideas can still be applied to other businesses and events, such as online webinars!
Send me a message by going to the Contact Me section of my website, or ask to connect on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nikkikyriakopoulos !