The Vendor Flop
Most of the time, we don’t see vendor attendees at conferences have much success with the lead lists they build at the conference.
One example kind of illustrates this above all: Tincup went to one conference about three years ago as one of the keynotes. He may have stopped by one specific booth at some point, or they may have pulled his email from a bigger list that the organizers got them.
Regardless, he was put into this cadence with thousands of other people. He was only on the master list because he was speaking, but the cadence was one of those “Sorry we missed you!” deals.
Therein lies the problem: because of the path of least resistance/lack of effort, oftentimes marketers take their conference data and they blast the same messaging to everyone regardless of context with you while at the conference.
This is a big mistake. But how do we prevent it?
First: Build your campaigns before the conference
These are the buckets of people you are going to want to identify once you’re at an event:
- Came by the booth and just got swag
- Came by the booth, had a conversation, no demo
- Came by the booth + conversation + demo
- Scheduled time to come by the booth + did not
- Never came by the booth (if there is a master list provided by conference organizers)
These are your five big buckets, give or take. You might have some other segmentation in there such as “Existing customer” or “Prospect/lead,” but let’s start with these five buckets.
At the conference: How do you keep this data clean?
The easiest way, honestly, is to bring a marketing coordinator-type role — different from sales, different from SDR/BDR, and different from marketing. Almost akin to an account manager/traffic mover/train runner person.
Their primary job at the booth is to record everyone stopping by and their series of actions while there. Sometimes you can do this with a badge scan — most conferences have those now (badge scan + notes can be taken). Sometimes it’s a more manual process. But one person should “own” this whole process while at the event.
What types of campaigns per bucket?
Breaking this down:
- Came by the booth, just got swag: These people broadly do not care about your offering. They might, but they probably do not. They likely got swag because of their children back at home. You can put them in a cadence, but make it very general. Direct them to core content and your social properties so they can follow you and see new updates if they so choose.
- Conversation, no demo: This is a good “education cadence” bucket. Educate them on pain points you solve, point them to content, and every third email or so, try to get them to agree to a demo or conversation.
- Conversation + demo: These should not be put into a cadence and your sales reps should handle them directly.
- Scheduled + didn’t come by: Start with a “We missed you!” email, then go into a mini-education cadence as above.
- Never came by the booth (bigger list): Generic cadence around what you do, your social profiles, etc. Maybe write a blog post with observations from the conference and share that as the first email. Do not put these people into a bigger sales/education cadence, because the sheer fact they never came by the booth but were in attendance means they don’t care that much. Don’t drop some major keynote speakers into your sales cadence; their administrative assistant will likely unsubscribe them quickly.
One broader lesson to always remember
Well, it’s actually two lessons: (1) is do most of the work before you get to the conference and (2) is remember this is about them and what they need, not about you.
That goes for how you treat them at the conference and how you follow up with them afterward.
If you get a list of 5,000 names from a conference, it should be an amazing resource for you. Many organizations fumble that snap, however.
You don’t have to be in that boat!
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.