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Marketing Your Tech Conference: 5 Methods to Draw a Crowd

Marketing Your Tech Conference

We’re excited to bring you a guest post from Bonfire, a design and technology company specializing in custom apparel. They help people sell shirts online, fundraise for good causes, and facilitate custom printed products direct orders. 

Event management can be an intimidating topic, especially for industries that are constantly changing, such as tech. As you create a marketing plan for your next tech conference, the first aspects of the plan that you need to define are your goals and objectives.

These goals and objectives should be specific and measurable in order to be effective. For example, this marketing basics guide provides suggestions such as, “collect 200 qualified leads from this event” and, “90% of event attendees to be aware of our new offering.”

It’s important to define these goals upfront so that you can be sure to adjust your marketing plan and adhere to the largest and best-qualified audience to reach those goals. 

Then, you need to consider the elements of your marketing plan that will draw a crowd in order to adjust content in these strategies to target those audiences appropriately. That’s why we’ve put together this guide: to help organizations like yours explore their marketing options and consider how you can use these options for the best results at your own tech conference.

We recommend the following marketing strategies:

  1. Leverage organization relationships.
  2. Boost your online presence. 
  3. Help attendees visualize the conference. 
  4. Maximize your use of content. 
  5. Focus on the individual.

These ideas are effective for the majority of audiences. However, you may decide to lean more heavily on one methodology over another depending on your audience. As you read on, consider the type of strategy to which your attendees will respond most positively.

  1. Leverage Relationships

One way that your organization can work to bring in more people is to cast a wider marketing net. Instead of simply relying on your own marketing initiatives, partner with other organizations in order to reach a wider audience and additional marketing efforts.

Partnerships may look slightly different depending on who you’re partnering with and what you each hope to accomplish through it. Two of the most common types of partnerships for conferences include:

  • Sponsorships. Ask local companies or other organizations to sponsor your tech conference. Generally, these sponsors will provide funding to help the event run smoothly. Plus, they’ll help provide additional marketing materials for their consumers to view, casting a wider net for a potential event audience. If you’re interested in a sponsorship for your conference, the Better Business Bureau is a great place to start
  • Co-hosts. You may consider asking an organization with a mission similar to your own to help co-host the event. This way, you’ll both benefit equally from one another’s marketing as you reach out to your respective audiences and promote attendance.

No matter what type of partnership you have with another organization, you’ll need to offer some marketing in return for the partner. We recommend:

  • Creating merchandise featuring partners. You might decide to order custom event t-shirts with your organization’s branding and conference logo on the front, then include a list of sponsors on the back.
  • Co-branding marketing materials. In your signs, marketing materials, and online information, be sure to split the branding with your co-hosting partner. For example, you may write an email to potential attendees, “Organization X has partnered with the experts Organization Y to host this year’s conference.

With any partnership, you need to make sure that both parties are deriving value from the relationship. When done correctly, partnerships allow both parties to reach one another’s audiences and create a greater potential attendee list for the tech conference. 

  1. Boost Your Online Presence

While in-person and direct mail marketing still have their place in the world of tech conference marketing, online marketing is the most essential tool you should use. After all, it’s essentially in the name, right? This is a tech conference. So why wouldn’t you use tech to reach them?

Boosting your online presence is an easy way to make a big impact for your attendee count at your next conference. Strengthening your digital presence helps you reach additional audiences and create more excitement for those who have already committed to attending.

You should consider bolstering different online platforms such as:

  • Social media. Social media is a natural marketing platform for organizations. You can post videos, pictures, and text all about the event, always linking back to resources where people can learn more. You can also boost posts and run ads with defined target audience parameters on Facebook or Instagram.
  • The event website. If you create a microsite or a specific webpage dedicated to your event, make sure that it’s easy to navigate to, user-friendly, and provides all of the necessary information. This is where you’ll direct people to learn more about the event, so it should include the location, date, time, signup information, and other relevant details.
  • Your website. Feature your event on your organization’s website. Consider adding a call-to-action on the homepage of your site inviting people to click through to the event-specific microsite/webpage to learn more. 
  • Other resources. In addition to your event site and your website, there are other platforms where you should make sure your event is advertised. For instance, if you sell merchandise in an online store, show your customers the latest special edition event t-shirt for the conference. Take a look at merchandise catalogs to get inspired about the  products or designs you can use for this type of merch.

When you post to different platforms and boost your online presence, think about the different aspects your supporters will want to see. Consider offering a sneak peek of the event so they know what to expect when they get there. Or, post a video from last year’s event to remind attendees how much they enjoyed it before. 

  1. Help Attendees Visualize the Conference

Your organization should be focused on providing visuals to your attendees, especially when it comes to online marketing. Visuals are helpful because they tend to engage people more than simple text.

However, there is another reason to put emphasis on visuals. Visual content is more easily transferable between platforms.

When you promote your event on Instagram, you’re likely to use a different strategy than you do on Twitter. Or, you probably won’t copy and paste the text from your website into a Facebook post. Each platform appeals to a different content form and requires a unique strategy to be effective. 

However, the majority of these platforms are image-friendly! But don’t use the same image for every platform because that could get tiresome for a user. For instance, to get more use out of your visuals, you may choose to:

  • Hire a professional photographer for an hour to take pictures for event marketing initiatives. From that single set of photos, you can use multiple across various platforms. You can post a picture of a volunteer you wish to highlight on Facebook, meanwhile posting an image of the event space on Instagram. 
  • Ask your attendees for pictures. Start a pre-sale for your merchandise. As people purchase it, ask them to post a picture in their new merch on social media using a specific hashtag. This way, you can pull images of supporters in event merchandise to be highlighted elsewhere (with their permission, of course). 
  • Host a design contest. Looking for an event logo? Maybe a design to represent the conference? Ask your creative supporters to submit their best designs for approval. Then, choose the best one! Promote the contest, then give a shout out to the winner. This will keep everyone on their toes about your visuals and save you time designing content

Visuals help supporters understand the event’s vibe and what they can expect in their attendance. Plus, using visuals across platforms is just one way to work smarter rather than harder. 

  1. Maximize Your Use of Content

While you can’t copy and paste content across platforms, you can take certain elements from various aspects of your conference and use that content in different ways.

Maximizing your use of content is an easy way to make sure your organization is working smarter, not harder, to market your tech conference. Instead of directly duplicating text across platforms, you’ll use existing content as a jumping off point for text on other platforms.

There are three primary ways you can extend the life of your event content and save time in your marketing efforts:

  • Appeal to multiple audiences. Use this strategy to give direct access to content from two different platforms. For example, you may choose to live stream your keynote speaker on social media as they speak at the conference. This gives both your in-person and online audiences access to this content. 
  • Summarize or highlight existing resources. Some platforms may lend themselves better to long-form content than others. Being able to synthesize or pull highlights from these long-form resources can provide content for other platforms. For example, you can pull quotes from your speaker and post them on Twitter or another social media platform.
  • Re-formulate content. If you have new research that you’ve conducted for one piece of content, you can use the same base research in another format. For example, you may take the research you used to draft your latest White Paper to fuel your next newsletter and market the conference opportunity.

Marketing content may not be replicable between platforms, but the core of it can be reworked and repurposed according to your organization’s needs. Make sure you’re getting the most from your marketing content to save time and resources for other activities. 

  1. Focus on the Individual

Marketing is becoming ever more personal. After all, 42% of people are annoyed when their marketing content isn’t personalized. This means your organization will lose the attention of some audience members when your marketing efforts lack personalization.

This is important for capturing the attention of existing supporters and past attendees— because they’re the ones you have the most information about stored in your CRM. As you craft your marketing content, be sure to:

  • Use segmented lists. Create segmented lists in your CRM to send messages that are most relevant to different groups of people. For instance, you would send a different event invitation to your past event attendees compared to someone has never before attended your conference. 
  • Auto-populate relevant information. Make sure attendees know that they stand out from the crowd. Auto-populate their names in the introduction of the email. If you want to go above and beyond, also include a piece of personal information in the message. For example, you may mention the last event they attended with your organization. 
  • Recognize key individuals. Dig through your CRM and see if there are individuals who would be considered essential for your conference. For instance, you may personally reach out to someone who attends all of your meetings and regularly participates in activities to ensure effective and reciprocal stewardship.

Personalization makes events better because it helps individuals feel that attending your event is the right fit for them.

When you’re personalizing content, be sure to use your technology as effectively as possible. This means taking full advantage of your marketing software, your CRM, and your event solutions in order to reach your audience.

Technology makes it possible for you to capture the attention of your existing crowd without individually sending emails or event invitations to everyone. 

Drawing a crowd to your tech conference doesn’t have to be tedious and exhausting work. The trick is to work smarter rather than harder. These 5 tips will help get you started crafting your strategy for your next tech conference. Don’t forget to consider your organization’s specific audience and what strategies they’ll respond best to. Good luck!

Want to learn more about designing inclusive events? Check out Hubb's 6 Steps for Designing Inclusive Events Guide!

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