How to get the most out of learning and development events
Are you responsible for sales or marketing in learning technology or training provider?
Check out our guide to getting the most out of L&D events
With in-person L&D events back on the agenda, it's a good time to consider if they should be in your marketing plan. Whether you're responsible for marketing a learning technology or training service brand, there are plenty of learning and development events to consider. So, where to start?
Start with your learning and development events objectives
What are your objectives for an event? They may be one or more of the following:
- Positioning a colleague as a thought leader
- Getting your brand noticed
- Lead generation
When considering your marketing objectives take into account the benefits and opportunities of virtual, blended and physical events. All have advantages and disadvantages. For example, our experience is virtual exhibition booths have limited potential for meeting prospects, but they might get greater numbers than a physical event - so what other networking opportunities do they provide? Here are actions you may want to consider before deciding if events are right for you, and what your activity at them will be.
You'll also need to think about different types of events. Awards, conferences and exhibitions all offer ways to engage with prospects and customers.
Factor learning and development events into your marketing planning
An annual marketing plan is a good time to review previous event activities. Speaking to various stakeholders is vital, especially your sales colleagues and other participants at previous events. Ask colleagues questions such as did speaker sessions get good attendance, did you notice any sponsorships, who was the audience, and did exhibition booths get good footfall?
Find out how salespeople were able to make the most of the event. Great salespeople are likely to make the most of networking opportunities, so consider the extent to which an event booth will help or not. And if you are thinking about a stand think about the best people who should be on your booth. If you're a learning technology company your product experts can help visitors navigate your products. If you're a training company, trainers can evangelise about the subjects and the results they've helped learners achieve.
Explore your learning event options
The right sponsorship deal can offer great ways to get your brand noticed, but make sure your decision is driven by value rather than vanity. Look forensically at what you get from a sponsorship agreement, and speak to the organisers about the audience and how you can engage with them. Sponsorships can often benefit from a long-term relationship. For events, there might be an opportunity for year-round exposure to your target audience rather than a short burst of activity at the event itself. Consider how you might be creative in exploiting a sponsorship. This article on historically great sponsorships might give you some ideas.
It's often worth looking at presentation slots as they can be valuable in demonstrating subject matter expertise or simply in demonstrating your learning technology. These will often be paid-for so you'll need to consider the time and place of your speaking slot, and what support the event organisers will provide to you in getting audience attendance. Particularly if you're paying for a presenter slot it will be important to find out if you are receiving the contact details of those who came to your presentation. Any of your activities should have an outcome in mind. For your stand, it might be about capturing information about visitors. For a presentation, you might wish attendees to download a white paper. In either scenario consider the use of QR codes to provide a friction-free way of taking your desired action.
What to do before a learning event
Make sure you have a detailed plan for each event. A 9-month plan with key dates such as objective setting, activity identification, stand design, presentation preparation, marketing collateral and data collection will help make your participation successful. Make sure you've planned a reason for attendees to see your presentation, visit your booth or attend your event bash. Freebies and competitions can increase footfall to your stand.
Who should be on your stand? Your salespeople may feel their time is best spent networking with prospects, and product people may be valuable if demonstrating any system or training programme you might be promoting. Make sure you train booth staff. They'll need to know the objectives of your stand and how to engage with visitors. Check out these tips for preparing staff for stand attendance. Use social media to promote your participation using the event organiser's hashtag. If you have a booth, hire a good designer in good time, depending on the size and scale of your booth.
What to do during an L&D event
If you have a booth ensure a rota is in place to ensure it's manned. Be sure to check out competitors. And make the most of social media opportunities - photos with clients, photos of your booths, and photos of presentations all tend to get good engagement, especially with the event hashtag., and remind people where you are and what you are doing at the event.
What to do after a training event
Make sure you are able to retrieve any data sets quickly so you can send follow-up communications. Monitor and measure lead nurturing and write up a report which can be reviewed for the next marketing plan. Finally, write up a review document, which looks back at your objectives and how well you did against them. You'll thank yourself when deciding whether to participate next year!
Want to discuss your marketing plan and how it includes events? Drop us a line! Wondering which L&D events you should be considering? Check out our guide to L&D events, with information on Learning Technologies. LEARNING LIVE and many others held in the next 12 months.