Events And Growing An IT Professional Services Business
As we mentioned in our previous post "7 Cost-Effective Tactics for IT Professional Services Marketing" events and networking can be an excellent method for founders of technology professional services startup to market and grow their business. In this article we will discuss how to maximize the value of events.
Also keep in mind that events don't have to be big. They can be large or small conferences, professional associations, meetups, webinars, fireside chats. No matter what type of events they are they have many commonalities that we can take advantage of.
What Is Unique About Events
Before we dive deeper into how to extract the value of events there are several ways in which events are different than other marketing efforts.
Understanding Market and Industry
Events provide a deep understanding of the market and industry. By attending industry conferences, trade shows, or networking events, you can learn about the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities in your industry. You can talk to many potential customers and learn their needs better.
Accessing New Networks
Events have attendees that are completely outside of your existing events. So they allow you to tap into new networks that you wouldn't have thought about. Especially by creating opportunities for serendipity. This can translate into new leads, partnerships, ideas, and perspectives.
It's not just new people however, events can be used to strengthen existing relationships. For example, we used AWS re:Invent at Flux7 to deepen our relationship with AWS. It also gave us an opportunity to meet our customers in person since we would always work remotely.
How To Get Value From Events
You can have varying level of commitments to events and that affects both the investment and the value from the events. So we have structured this section around activities to reflect the increasing commitment you make to the events.
When attending events, it's important to be prepared. Please check out this post for helping you prepare better for an event including setting goals for yourself. The goals when attending conferences need to include total number of people met, potential customers met, and learnings desired. 25-50 conversations in a day is a good aggressive target for an event. And can introduce you to 2-3 potential customers. Talk to people sitting next to you in talks, say hello to everyone at the table at lunch, visit vendor booths, just say hi to people standing around. People are there to meet, so talk to them and meet.
As a consultant your marketing goal is establishing credibility. The best way to do that is to present at events. Presenting gives you the endorsement of the organizers that you are worth listening to and gets you the attention of a roomful of people. For more formal events you'd make submissions to calls for papers. But smaller events like meetup groups you can reach out to the event organizers. For some quick numbers Vixul gained 100 followers, more than a 30% jump and 20 leads from the panel Aater Suleman pulled together for P@SHA. When you present keep in mind
You may decide to sponsor. Different sponsorship levels give different advantages including advertisement, booths, and talks. Sponsorships are important not just for the advertisement they carry but are a great way to strengthen your relationships with partners and the community. Make sure to invest the appropriate resources to take advantage of the various perks you receive for being a sponsor.
Finally you can host an event. Before hosting have clear goals in your mind for your attendees. Different personas of attendees may derive different value and to make the event useful you would need to cater to each group. For example, technical folks may be interested in attending talks on how to solve problems they are facing while leaders would need to better understand how to develop a strategy and meeting other leaders. So make sure you have something of value to offer to each group. It is also your responsibility to market the event to get the right audience. This includes the usual sources of marketing like website, social media, etc. In addition you'd want to do personal reach outs to people in your network that can add value by attending. Exclusive webinars also make a great call to action for email campaigns and to create long-term content. If hosting an event we'd recommend starting small. You'll have a large amount of initial interest with a smaller amount of sustained interest. Continuously build on and develop that sustained interest to increase your reach.
These new learnings will help in getting the most out of events. Our final advice would be, to do more in events that you believe you are ready to do. Just starting out or thinking about starting a business, attend conferences. Host customer dinners, submit your last project to the local meetup group, reach out to partners asking if they want to manage a meetup together. In fact one year into Vixul we are already hosting a conference, VixulCon 2023. The event is closed door event by invite only and an opportunity for our network of customer, veteran founders, and subject matter experts to meet. It'll be the first of its kind gathering of experts in high growth technology professional services. Even though the event is a closed door event we are taking applications for people interested in attending. Please check out the conference page to see if you're interested and apply to join us.