Road to Microsoft WPC–5 Tips for Exhibitors

The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference is a great place to interact with a wide variety of Microsoft partners of all different sizes. If you’re exhibiting at WPC here are a few ideas on how you may get more from your participation at the conference.

  1. Define your event objectives.  Some goals may be measurable – number of leads captured, sales closed, etc. Others may be less tangible – increasing awareness for your product or service, networking with attendees, building relationships, joining the WPC social media conversation, etc. Look at the goals in context with your company’s greater marketing strategy and think about how you can integrate the event’s various touch points with your other marketing efforts. Your event marketing efforts should not be done in a silo from your other programs.
    • How does your event activities fit into your sales efforts? Are the leads followed up once after the show and then discarded or do you have a CRM system to nurture potential leads over a longer period of time?
    • What are you doing for your existing customers at the event? The sales cycle does not end when your customer make the purchase. What can you do to extend the lifetime value of your customers at conferences like this?
  2. Develop a mobile strategy.As Web-enabled smartphones have become commonplace, the question should not be, “Do you have a mobile strategy?” but “Why are you not building your participation around your mobile strategy?” Almost everyone coming to your booth at WPC will have a smartphone – how can you get them to engage with you?
    • Mobile engagement is much different than PC engagement. Attention spans are even shorter. Few keys for mobile offers:
      • Valuable in their mind – a 10% discount may not be a big incentive but a free white paper that resonates with their business needs may be.
      • Make it brief – don’t make them jump through a ton of hurdles to get the offer, keep it simple
      • Make it immediate – the user needs to take action right now.
    • Does your company have a mobile strategy that you can leverage at the show? Can you build an in-person event mobile process that plugs into your greater marketing efforts?
  3. Be efficient at working your booth.Go back through your primary objectives for exhibiting at the show. Make sure your booth is setup well to accomplish your objectives.
    • Develop an elevator pitch. You’ve got one or two sentences to capture the attendee’s attention and pull them in your booth so you can engage with them deeper. What are your customers’ business pains? What does your product or service do to solve these pains.
    • Nurture your hot leads. When you have a great conversation with a hot lead grab their business card, write notes on the card about what you spoke about and stick it in your pocket to follow up. Don’t leave your hot leads to chance with all the bulk of leads you may capture via electronic systems or fish bowl giveaways.
    • Consider following up with your leads while still at the show. Thank them and summarize your discussion. How many vendors will do that?
  4. Network with a purpose.Have a plan for your show team for networking so that it’s something that’s at the top if their mind.
    • Conquer and divide. How many times do you see a group of people with the same colored shirts sitting together at lunch or on the shuttle. Your business does not end when the booth closes or when your staff is on break. Have them break up and sit with others at meals. Shuttles are great times to strike up conversations.
    • Networking is not about selling. I’ve heard that networking is like going on a first date – if you want them to be interested in you,  you have to let them talk about themselves. It’s about getting to know them and their business. If you spend more time talking about yourself and your business they can spot a sales pitch a mile away.
    • Treat your networking leads differently than your booth leads. If you had a great conversation you’re on your way to building a relationship if there’s mutual benefit. Lots of times the person may not be an obvious prospect for your business but if you pay attention they can tell you things that may help your business in other ways. Creativity is about connecting dots that may not have been obvious and I get some of my most valuable ideas while chatting with others.
    • Check out the WPC networking resources like WPC Connect to help you connect with other partners.
  5. Leverage the social fire hose.There will probably be tens of thousands of tweets coming from WPC. Come up with a plan to join the conversation. It’s not just about telling people to come to your booth – that’s advertising not social marketing.
    • Add value to the stream. Provide interesting and entertaining tidbits of information. Become a SME. If your company provides Exchange services – what value can you provide the the Exchange community to position yourself as a subject matter expert?
    • Find ways to link your company’s social media and community efforts with the WPC efforts. How can your communities benefit from your attendance at the conference?
    • If your company has a blog make a post every day providing highlights from the event. If prospects come to your site during the conference they can see that you’re providing rich content that may be valuable to them.
    • Provide unique points of view. It’s easy to tweet or retweet something that someone said but what is your POV on the topic? Do you have a unique twist on a topic that can spark different ways of viewing things?
    • Participate where the community is. Are there forums from the event site or 3rd part sites? Is there a vibrant LinkedIn community that you can share breaking news from WPC?

How we market at trade shows have been changing with the popularity of mobile, digital and social marketing tools. Start integrating these new tools with your event plans and other marketing efforts.

Do you have any other tips that have been helpful for you at events?

About Scott Lum

Disruptive digital, social & content marketer with a passion for customer experience. Formerly with Microsoft.
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