RSA Conference just wrapped up at the Moscone Centre in San Francisco drawing again over 50,000 visitors and 600+ companies in the cyber security space. Despite the construction in and around Moscone, there was no dearth of crowds and event gimmicks — concession stands offering candy and popcorn, movie theater booth design and even Elvis impersonators.
Cyber is part of our lives and consequent threats will continue to evolve at the speed or faster than technological advances. New threats bring new solutions or protective technologies for legacy systems. As a CEO/CFO of a smaller security company trying to establish their presence, being at an event such as RSA becomes an imperative.
This is a good time as any to then discuss what an effective event strategy needs to look like. Expectations and investments for the CEO/CFO can align to maximize results.
B2B events are similar to any large market place with each vendor hawking their wares and seeing who can attract the buyer and thus grow their business. The ultimate goal of having a booth presence and sessions at any event is to
- establish brand and leadership
- generate qualified leads for new and existing business
- broker deals and partnerships to expand footprint
To achieve those goals their needs to be a very well-articulated and executed event strategy to maximize the effectiveness of the investment.
Pre-event Strategy – BROADCAST
Goal at this step is to collect leads and drive awareness and traffic to your booth – most companies do this fairly well.
- free expo code to collect lead volume. Most of the leads would be of low quality however, you may get an influencer at a company where there are a large number of participants. More likely than not you will get a lot of local visitors.
- build brand and awareness by using crowd draws like authors, celebrities, party themes to reach your prospect via email and social media, who is also being wooed by 600 other companies.
- On-site meetings are pre-booked for more meaningful discussions and demos. An important role of marketing is then to enable sales to book those meetings with qualified prospects to make for a successful event.
- unveiling new products or solutions is also expected at such events. The PR and social strategy to create hype and excitement becomes important.
At-Event Strategy- ATTRACT
Your presence needs to stand out from hundreds of other presenters. Larger footprint does not necessarily mean that you cannot get the prospects to come to you. Companies at RSA were using Dr Kaku (famous author and physicist) as a draw, some had an artist drawing your digital emoji, others created a bar like theme. Carbon black had customized arcade games that visitors could get their hands on. RSA booth created actual rainfall with umbrellas with a social campaign tied to it. Coming up with a theme that attracts and engages the qualified prospect should be part of every well thought out event strategy.
- Qualifying buyers and Engaging Customers – this is where the rubber meets the roads. You would be surprised at how many companies miss out on this opportunity. RSA 2018 was no exception as booth staff was scanning visitors willy nilly.
- Booth scanners are coded with codes and booth staff trained to code the conversations into appropriate qualification categories
- Booth design that allows to engage and interact with large customers and channel partners
Post-Event Strategy- FOLLOW-UP
Now comes the hard part. At this stage it’s all about being a PEST. I do say that a little tongue in cheek but the teams that follow-through in a genuine way and do not drop the ball on the littlest of opportunities are the teams that get ahead and reach the finish line!