How do conferences and trade shows fit into your overall business strategy? For several of our clients, like the dozens we supported at last month’s ICSC RECon real estate trade show, attending trade shows is a key element of their marketing strategy. And these clients are not alone. In fact, an article by Marking Charts noted 64% of marketers use trade shows and events to source new prospects and business opportunities. A follow-up article cited a survey that found 83% of B2B marketers are heavily invested in events.
The most coveted opportunity associated with attending an event: taking the stage as an expert speaker. Securing a business speaking engagement at a trade show can serve as a powerful medium for generating awareness, credibility and potential leads. But where do you start?
Let’s go over a few recommendations to help you prepare to take the stage more often in 2018.
Identify Hot Topics: What topics have the industry buzzing? If you want to get on the radar of conference organizers, latch onto a hot trend as part of your speaking submission to increase your chances of selection.
Establish Your Evergreen Themes: What are the core industry topics you know like the back of your hand? These themes should serve as your “go-to presentations” when asked to participate at an event. Easy to prepare and incredibly polished, these presentations should represent your best work.
Bring in Clients for Case Studies: Whether they cover a broad swatch of topics or take a deep dive into one particular subject, the best presentations provide incredible value to the attendees. In some cases, it’s helpful to co-present with a client as part of a case study or best practice review. Conference organizers will appreciate the diverse perspectives for the presentation, and you’ll receive an “indirect endorsement” in front of the crowd by bringing in your client.
Create a Speaking Reel: It’s common to see requests for previous speaking engagements on conference speaking applications. However, more and more of these applications are now asking for video samples. If you’re already speaking regularly at events, work with your team to capture samples of your presentations and create a quick demo reel to help increase your chances of selection.
Overhaul Presentation Creative: Say goodbye to bullet points. If you’re hoping to evolve the experience created by your presentation, think more TED and less college curriculum. Developing a presentation that utilizes big images and large fonts can change the feeling of the room pretty quickly. This brings us to our next recommendation…
Hire a Presentation Coach: You may know the content inside and out, but can you deliver it with energy, emotion and passion? While some presenters are naturally gifted when it comes to captivating a room, the rest of us might need a little help. Consider working with a presentation coach to improve your delivery, confidence and ability to speak to an audience without the crutch of seeing the presentation.
Increase Your Sponsorship Budget: We’re seeing a key shift in the requirements to secure coveted speaking engagements and panel positions at leading industry conferences: you need to pay to play. While not every event requires you to purchase a sponsorship in order to speak, we’re seeing conference organizations give preferential treatment to companies that support the event. In specific cases, it’s even a requirement to be a sponsor. As you are researching targeted speaking opportunities, make sure to read the fine print on the submission forms. You may be required to write a check or buy an advertisement in order to take the stage.
Most major conferences and events are already planning for 2018 as you read this email. At Identity, we’re already moving to capitalize on opportunities for next year. If you’re serious about speaking, take our advice and start building a more holistic strategy for your organization.