There are many types of industry-specific events each year. Getting involved with such an event is a great tactic to help boost your brand, sales, clientele and more.
With so many events, what is the best way to manage it all? How do you choose which ones are best for you and your marketing strategy?
There are conferences, networking events, trade shows, etc. Some are national, some are regional, some are local…it is crucial to find the right kind to attend. In order to make sure that your participation is a productive tool for you and your company, you should:
- Ask yourself, “What is my company trying to get out of event participation?”
- Understand the content of the conference or event to make sure it is in line with your business goals and has the right audience for you.
- Take your event and travel budget into consideration.
- Determine what kind of geographic reach you want.
- Assess how much time you will need to be out of the office to fully participate in the event.
For example, we manage several regional events with New York City agencies, such as the Port Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the School Construction Authority. Those agencies have billion-dollar budgets set aside for projects. Construction professionals flock to these events—instead of many others—because they can find out about potential work, connect with agency leaders, or find a good subcontractor or MWDBE firm to hire on a project they are working on.
Generally, events help increase your visibility and lead generation. Some construction industry events host 300 to 500 participants, although 100 is a typical number for smaller events. You can participate by speaking on panels, being the keynote speaker, or hosting your own session. You can talk about what you’ve done in the industry and discuss your construction projects in front of a captive audience that is the exact demographic for your marketing. This can really elevate your brand and your status as a thought leader. If you don’t want to speak, sometimes attending for the networking is your best option.
Our company often manages event sponsorships and booths. They complement each other really well. Prior to an event, we will notify people that we are one of the sponsors and invite them to stop by our booth. Booths can be a great lead generation tool because they allow you to interact with event attendees, collect their contact information, and follow up with them. Booths also offer great visibility in general.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that people get wrong regarding booths at events. They may not be staffed properly or not really staffed at all. You really have to make sure that you have people who are available to answer questions and who are really engaging and helpful when people stop by the booth. Don’t stand with your arms crossed while manning your booth. No one will stop by.
The construction industry is very social. Everybody knows everybody, and it’s all about relationships. Everyone exchanges business cards at these events. That’s how you get projects and work, so it’s really important to follow up with people after an event in a variety of ways, including:
- Sending them a post-event marketing email;
- Adding them to your newsletter list;
- Connecting with them on LinkedIn; and
- Calling them and meeting up with them for coffee.
Your decisions about event participation and follow-up depend on your goals and needs. A general contractor will be looking to make relationships with people who can work on their project or to speak with owners to get new work, whereas a subcontractor will be looking to network with the general contractor to work on part of the project. The right event will give you the right audience and opportunities for the projects you want. Stay tuned for our next article which will cover more steps to take after an event!
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