Attending a conference is no small feat. Major conferences are likely out of your country, let alone your city. To sponsor the event and have a booth, you're almost guaranteed to spend plenty of money. If you're making that investment, you want to employ an engagement strategy that translates into a return on that investment.
Below we've highlighted the 6 ways to boost conference engagement, demonstrated by different companies at Saastr Europa 2022.
- The Giveaway
- The Free Breakfast
- The New Experience
- The Social Share
- Booth Badges and the essential pack
- The Care Package
Upflowy & Saastr
At Saastr Europa, Upflowy was a gold-level sponsor and had a team of 7 Upflowy staff and help from two fellow Australian founders, Damian Bramanis and Tim Brewer, who run Functionly. Our booth drew people in with Tim Tams (Australia's signature chocolate) and Cuberdons (Belgian candy that bears a striking resemblance to our logo). The food lured attendees in, and then they were served with our elevator pitch and could see the product in action.
The Importance of Engagement
At an event like Saastr Europa, the goal is to develop relationships that seek to benefit your own business. Whether your brand is looking to build awareness, looking to create partnerships, or it's a lead generation event, you want to be pushing the needle. There needs to be a tangible value that is made from attending the event. If your business sponsors the event, an investment return is necessary.
As a startup, Upflowy needed to make use of the sponsorship.
Engagement is at the core of an event. You could have the best product or service in the world, but if no one comes to your booth, no one will find out about it. So the ability to draw people in, spark a meaningful conversation, and 'close' is paramount.
Matthew Browne, one of Upflowy's Co-founders, gave the team a crash course in networking and pitching to ensure the team was engaging. We'll share an article on the best networking tactics for conferences in the coming weeks.
The booth, the staff, the strategy and the energy all combine to create an engaging company within the context of a conference, and we're going to shout out 6 companies we shared the floor with at Saastr.
The 6 Engagement Strategies to boost engagement
The Giveaway (Paddle)
Paddle is a payment, tax and subscription service, and offered a unique engagement strategy to draw people to their booth.
Many of their staff walked around the conference centre engaging with attendees and other stalls, with the end goal of handing them a slip of paper with a 4-digit code.
Once you had the 4-digit code, you could head to their booth, where an iPad was locked in a glass case. Upon arrival, your event lanyard was scanned as part of their lead generation, and you could then see if your unique code unlocked the case.
This giveaway was perfect, as the item was valuable enough to inspire people to head to Paddle's booth and try their luck. The extra elements of the glass case and the combination lock created mystery and allure. Curiosity was piqued. The return on investment for the purchase of an iPad was brilliant. Mountains of people turned up to their booth and entered their lead pipeline.
2. The Free Doughnuts Breakfast (PayHawk)
The adage goes that there is no such thing as a free lunch. PayHawk understood that, but they went for a different meal, in a different style. On day two of Saastr Europa, PayHawk put on a delectable doughnut breakfast for the attendees.
Understanding that some attendees might feel under the weather after a long day and night of networking, they knew what people needed. The breakfast was an excellent display of doughnuts, bringing attendees toward one central location. With a strong crowd surrounding their booth to get one of these doughnuts, PayHawk could talk about their platform and make a memorable experience for plenty of Saastr guests.
Thomas Westerhoven's LinkedIn post
3. The New Experience (Cledara)
New technology is fun. Technology that shows a forward leap will always entice people. Whether it's the Nintendo Wii or now with virtual reality technology, people are drawn to new technological experiences. Cledara leveraged this.
Cledara had a VR headset available to try at their booth, and for many, this was their first modern VR experience, and you rarely forget your first. When people walked the floor of the event, many would stop and notice the individual trying to VR experience, utterly lost in the virtual world, and began to wait at the Cledara booth.
The experience stood out from many of the other booths. The employment of virtual reality technology was a true example of customer experience. The individual attendee would have all their focus on precisely what Cledara was putting in front of their eyes. No distractions, no notifications, just 100% focus on the VR experience. To achieve that level of focus is rare.
Often customer attention is fought for like a tug of war, on second to second battles, whether it be push notifications, email, display ads and more. Hats off to Cledara for a reality-breaking engagement strategy.
Cledara's LinkedIn post
4. The Social Share (6 Sense, Vidyard, Salesloft)
Why leverage one person when you can leverage their entire network?
The sponsorship of the selfie wall at Saastr was a stroke of genius from 6 Sense, Vidyard and Salesloft. The selfie wall was incredibly well placed within the event space and had attendees always walk past it.In addition, two employees from Salesloft were at the wall at all times, handing out selfie sticks to help people take their ideal selfies.
On the wall, there was a competition to win a polaroid camera. Attendees needed to share their selfies on their LinkedIn profiles. The Saastr Selfie Wall was brimming with people all the time, and the social sharing would've placed the branding of the three brands in front of far more people.
The wall turned one potential lead into a thousand.
5. Booth Badges and the essential pack (G2)
Social proof is hard to find at conferences unless you're G2.
G2 knew that some of their customers would sponsor booths at Saastr. So they sought out those stalls early on day one. They then offered free G2 platform badges to the stall, a brilliant strategic move. Everyone was playing checkers, while G2 were playing chess.
The badges were mutually beneficial. Companies would proudly boast their badge, highlighting their status as top performers or industry leaders. In addition, every company that chose to feature the badge was also giving free advertising to G2, further reinforcing them as the market leader for software listing and comparison.
They didn't stop there. In a covid world, many had forgotten the rigours and stresses of international travel for conferences. Across Saastr, some people were unprepared for the event, the outside climate and travelling in general. G2 had anticipated this would be many people's first big trip back after facing multiple lockdowns.
G2 has the essentials neatly packed into a black bumbag. After attendees engaged with the booth, they handed out fantastic essential travel packs. The pack features sunglasses and lip balm for the Spanish summer, a deck of cards and more!
6. The Care Package (ReachDesk)
A massive pain for conferences is cold leads. Your business may have wowed someone at the booth, and their details are now in your CRM pipeline. How can you reignite the fire they felt from a distance without that personal touch?
Reachdesk utilised a magnificent strategy that highlights the legitimacy of their business. First, they used their service as an engagement strategy. When an attendee came to their booth, they could fill out a lead generation form which included asking for their address. Reachdesk would then send them a care package after the event to demonstrate the quality and effectiveness of their service as a global gifting platform.
Below is an image of the care package they sent, and they've secured social media posts from grateful attendees and a massive uptick in demo requests. Warming cold leads is incredibly difficult, but Reachdesk has thrown all their leads into the microwave and warmed them instantly with this strategy.
Planning your next event
A strategy is necessary if your company sponsors an event in the next six months.
First, you've got to assemble your team, a mix of people from across the company who can talk product for hours. High energy, interest and people who exemplify your team's culture will reap the best reward at conferences.
Second, you need to find a way to make your booth memorable. Like many of the strategies above, an activation can help, but swag is constant at every event. We've written about the best swag we found at Saastr. Be inspired, be original, be engaging.
2023 Tech Event News
Attending South by South West (SXSW) is farfetched for many Australian startups. The international flight to Austin, accommodation, sponsorship and more are enough to make your CFO unsettled.
So the news that SXSW will take place in Sydney in October of 2023 is fantastic.
A conference offers your company a platform for reach, engagement and discovery. When approaching a conference, the goal needs to be clear before you pack your bags, your team needs to be aligned, and your pitch needs to be perfect. If you're struggling with developing your company pitch, our founder Guillaume Ang wrote up an article on creating a one sentence pitch to convert your audience.
If you're looking for an easy way to collate your leads at the event, Upflowy can help with a simple signup form. Jump into the platform today and start creating.