Conference prep for Noobs
When our company is sponsoring a conference, it takes months of work to prepare for in regards to finding swag to represent our company, and how we plan on representing ourselves from our conference space.
Having a booth that represents the company is no simple task, as it is very important for us to stand out and be remembered. The processes behind the scenes is crucial to a conference presence and that entails having the best “stuff” and the coolest booth to visit. We had a very successful booth experience for Drupalcon Austin, and I believe we achieved everything we set out to do as a sponsor at that great event. Our t-shirts were a huge hit!
Here are some helpful tips I would recommend for successful conference prepping:
- Keep an ongoing document/folder for ideas related to your company’s “internal” marketing. T-shirt idea’s, new thoughts on fun swag, interesting quotes or sayings related to getting your company’s message across, etc…encourage your employees to continuously pop their ideas in it. You never know when brilliance will strike!
- Give yourself lots of time to prepare. Typically, we will start getting our monkeys in a row at least 3 months prior to the conference date, if not sooner. You can never be too prepared.
- If your conference is in the USA, buy and ship all of your products from within the USA. If the conference is in Spain, then order product from there and ship from within that country...etc. This is huge. Shipping across borders, over oceans, is just as expensive as you would think it would be x ten!!! All large conferences have warehouses to ship to, so ship all of your swag directly to them.
- If possible, stick to one colour imprints for obvious cost reasons. You are giving this stuff away so it doesn’t have to be over complicated. Just creative & cool!
- Request samples of your logo’d products to be sent to your office. You can physically approve of everything, and not have to worry about what everything looks / feels like since you will be direct shipping to the conference. Many great companies offer this service with their products.
- Pre-arrange return shipping if possible. In many instances, it will be more cost effective to use an outside sourced shipping company, than the provided conference shipper. Take the time to research your options.
- Get creative with your booth space. Think outside of the box. (note: I do NOT recommend shipping an almost 200lb gazebo from Canada to a USA conference. It made an awesome booth space, but ended up costing as much as a small car. (refer to point # 3) Again, creativity is key here, but so is simplicity. If you put it up, it has to come down, and you will be tired by the end of the conference.
- Remember the little things you need for your booth - duct tape, screw driver, tacks - whatever it may be. Not having these “cap off the toothpaste” things can really extend your setup time, and fray your nerves. Keep a list, check it twice, it’s worth it.
- Be sure you have all of the proper documentation/paperwork with you BEFORE you leave for the conference in regards to shipping confirmation, product delivery confirmation etc...I think the reasoning is obvious, but you would be amazed how easy it is to forget something so simple. Print everything out and keep it handy.
- Be organized. Know your warehouse dates and pick up/drop off locations. Be savvy to who your conference contact people are in case of issues. Be informed before you arrive. Again, simple, easy & effective, yet often overlooked.
Hopefully a few of these tips will help you when preparing for your conference. They can be overwhelming and stressful, or with proper thought, a fun and engaging adventure! Good luck and happy networking!!!