Are conference booths memorable or a waste of money?

In the financial industry, there are several marquee conferences that act as the mixing pot for the markets’ top leaders each year. Those looking to network and increase brand awareness either sponsor, attend or speak on a panel at most or all of them. The question is whether or not any of these tactics are actually effective, especially when exhibiting a booth at a non-trade show event.

Firms can easily deplete their marketing budgets if they consider having a booth at each conference, and depending on the quality of the attendance list and program, it may not even be worth it. So everyone assumes… Nothing attracts attendees more than a compelling, informative and creative stand.

Maybe it’s a lack of innovation and imagination that makes some of the most expensive booths forgettable. Here are a few ways you can stand out, and capture attention:

Email marketing: let your target audience know that you are sponsoring the event and promote your booth number and location at the venue. Ask people to stop by to chat or learn about your product. Include links to the venue and entice them to stop by.

Marketing premiums: have tactical, cost-efficient and modern giveaways at your stand. Be sure to hand out unique and useful items that will not end up in the trash.

Interactive booth: people love to win prizes, play games and view demos of your product. Engage your audience with something different. Prize wheels, trivia games, “I-Spy”, etc. are stale ideas. Do something truly unique, like sponsoring a photo booth with your company name printed on each reel or a haiku game with magnetic words related to the industry, encouraging people to wax poetic about the issues enveloping the roundtables (idea attributed to OpenGamma’s creativity at the FIA’s International Derivatives Expo.)

Promotion: publicize your attendance or sponsorship via social media platforms. Include the links in your email signatures. Send reminder emails – not to annoy, but to inform!

Sponsorship: in today’s increasingly competitive landscape, sponsoring ‘platinum’ packages like the weekend golf tournament or the after-party may seem like the most memorable, but do something more practical. Sponsor a mobile-charging station, water bottles or other items such as wifi. Your company name can be the password to login!

So next time you’re planning conference promotion, think about the tangible value, not the precious metal attached to a sponsorship. Separate your company from the rest and start your own trend to increase the track marks on those sponsored carpets. No one will be skipping the water bottles, because let’s face it – everyone is plenty parched from talking all day!

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