Originally published on www.elearningindustry.com
It’s important to market your Learning Management System at conferences and trade shows. But you’ve got to do it well AND in moderation.
Conferences are an LMS Marketing Staple
Let me start by saying that a lot of learning tech buyers go to conferences to search for an LMS. So, if they are there, then you have to be there too.
Some will dispute this and say that CLOs and VPs of Training don’t go to conferences. However, they are not the ones doing the hard work of finding an LMS. Especially in large companies. The ones searching are sometimes several steps below the executive level and these people carry a lot of weight in the LMS buying decision.
There are some LMS vendors who show up at every major L&D and HR conference. Some newer vendors with bulging wallets and recent funding try them all to see which ones are the best. Later, they jettison the bad ones and just focus on the ones where they got the most leads that turned into opportunities. Some older vendors continue to attend all the conferences, year after year, regardless of the results.
The crazy thing here is how much money is wasted at these conferences. The minimum cost of exhibiting is around $20,000 if you include travel, giveaway items, etc. Some vendors max out and spend six figures per conference. If they do ten to twenty conferences per year, that’s one to three million dollars out of their budget.
Imagine how many more qualified leads they could get if they invested in more content marketing or a better web presence.
My advice is to limit your company to between two to five conferences a year, based on what you’re selling, and which conferences have the right buyers for you (check out the list below). Then scale up or down once you find out which ones are the best. Here are some tips to help you get the most from your next eLearning event.
Focus on Quality Leads vs. Quantity
Avoid focusing on generating a lot of leads at conferences. If you really want leads, you can get them, but only a small percentage of them will be worth anything and will distract from the leads that have a budget and are likely to buy. The worst thing that can happen is having a qualified buyer come to your booth, but then leave because there are too many people ahead of them trying to scrounge promotional items.
Build the Buzz Before You Book the Flight
Start spreading the word about the conference well in advance to schedule meetings and let people know you’ll be there. If you have a booth, tell social media followers where they can find you and invite them to stop by. If you’re just be mixing and mingling at the conference (sans booth), it’s still a good idea to build the buzz. For example, even schedule one-on-one meetings with leads who want more info. Even if this doesn’t generate meetings, it communicates that your company is active and vibrant.
Create a List of Goals for Each Conference
You need to set some measurable marketing goals before you even set foot in the conference. Determine how many leads you want to walk away with, or how many names you’d like to add to your mailing list. Bear in mind that you’re aiming for quality prospects who are likely to convert into sales, not just trying to expand your database with empty leads in order to meet a personal quota.
Get the Inside Scoop from Seasoned Veterans
eLearning professionals and marketers who regularly attend conferences and trade shows will be able to offer recommendations, such as which events are worth the time and money and which you may want to skip. Ask around on social media, online forums, or in-person networking events to get the inside scoop. Let them know what you expect, how much room you have in your budget and your target audience. That way they’ll have a complete picture on which to base their suggestions.
My Personal Favorite Learning & Development Conferences
- ATD International Conference & Exposition
- CLO Symposium (Spring & Fall)
- DevLearn Conference & Expo
- Elliott Masie’s Learning Systems & Tools
- HR Technology Conference & Expo
- IMPACT (Bersin by Deloitte)
- Learning Technologies (London)
Other Noteworthy L&D Events
- ASAE Technology Conference & Expo
- ATD TechKnowledge
- CEdMA (Spring & Fall)
- Chief Learning Officer Exchange
- Chief Learning Officer Forum
- Elliott Masie’s Learning
- FocusOn Learning Conference & Expo
- HCM Excellence Conference (Brandon Hall)
- Learning & Leadership Development Conf.
- Learning Solutions Conference & Expo
- Online Learning Conference
- Realities360 Conference
- SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition
- The Training, Learning, and Development Conference
- Training Conference & Expo
- Training Industry Conference & Expo
- Training Magazine’s Online Learning Conf.
The bottom line here is that you should, by all means, exhibit at conferences, but only in moderation. The caveat is that you need to focus on fewer and better leads. Stop trying to generate a large crowd of potential prospects around your booth and concentrate on quality over quantity. You can also pair it with an effective content marketing strategy to engage your online audience and follow-up with leads.
If you want to get more tips and tricks for LMS marketing, download the free eBook 10 Marketing Strategies That No Learning Tech Vendor Can Live Without.
About the Author
Gordon Johnson has been a marketing leader in the corporate L&D industry for over twenty years. His specialty is developing transformative marketing strategies that generate qualified sales opportunities, employing the latest digital marketing channels, coupled with traditional techniques to achieve industry-leading brand awareness, widespread web presence and high-impact value propositions. Other marketing concentrations include content marketing, messaging, social marketing, positioning strategy, analyst relations, events, account-based marketing (ABM), email marketing, customer success and lead-generation. Contact Gordon.