I’ve spoken at conferences and events before, and I always get a few good leads that turn into projects for my company. But generally, I find when I’m speaking, I have no idea who’s in the audience, their level of interest in the topic, or their satisfaction with the presentation.
Except for a few brave souls who come up after the presentation to say hello or ask a question, there’s no real way to know if you connected with the audience. It’s just a sea of anonymous faces, with a few interested people nodding along.
Afterwards, I’ve often wondered if the time investment (which includes preparing the presentation and time out of the office) is really worthwhile. I know I’m not alone in this question because I’ve spoken with many other event speakers who question the ROI (define) as well.
This time, I used the power of e-mail to generate a much higher return on my investment.
List Speaking Engagements in Your Newsletter
I included a list of speaking engagements in my e-newsletter, which was sent a week before the ClickZ event. A number of people clicked through. Though I didn’t see them at the event, the knowledge of the presentation helps build my reputation.
Send a Speaker’s Discounted Guest Pass
I sent a speaker’s discounted guest conference pass to my New York colleagues before the event. Unfortunately, I did this at the last minute; next time I’ll do it a few weeks before. But as a result, a client asked me to conduct a one-day training session for his company.
Meet With Event Speakers
I contacted speakers on the event agenda and set up casual meetings. I finally met one prospective client in person whom I’ve been talking to on the phone and via e-mail. He told me he’ll have a project for me soon. Ruth and I also had a great lunch with a fellow ClickZ columnist Heidi Cohen, whom I’d invited earlier in the day via e-mail.
Circulate a Sign-Up Sheet During the Presentation
I circulated an attendee sign-up sheet during my presentation. Because the links to the presentation don’t go live immediately and my PowerPoint featured a lot of detailed samples of specific copy approaches, I offered to send it out immediately to attendees. They could also sign up for my e-newsletter.
Thirty-eight people signed up, the majority of the attendees at my session. Two days later, an e-mail went out to all of them with the attached PowerPoint and a welcome message as new e-newsletter subscribers. I also included links to my own e-newsletter archives as well as ClickZ columns.
Finally, I asked attendees for feedback so I can get a better sense of their needs and how to improve the presentation for the future. As a thank you, I sent each responder a $5 Starbucks gift card. So far, responses have been very thoughtful and helpful. Where applicable, I’ve followed up with a request to use the testimonial in future marketing materials for myself and for ClickZ to promote future events.
What I also saw from the attendee list was the kind of companies that are interested in B2B e-mail marketing. It expanded my perspective to see how many research firms were in attendance. This happily coincides with my expertise, since I write for many research and advisory firms. I had my assistant look up the Web sites for all the unfamiliar companies and print out the home pages, so I can see which may be worth contacting.
By converting the attendees to e-newsletter subscribers, I have an opportunity to engage them in more of a dialogue over time instead of losing them when they move on to the next presentation.
Record the Presentation
I recorded my presentation and had my assistant take pictures. It can feel a little silly to do this, but the photos can be added to the Web site to publicize my availability as a speaker. By taping the presentation, we’ve now captured the talking points between the PowerPoint bullets from the presentation that are so easily lost. Depending on the quality, audio clips can be used on my Web site, in my e-newsletter, or even as an audio seminar or podcast. I’ll also have my assistant transcribe the tapes for use in a future ClickZ column or perhaps a book some day.
There are even more promotional opportunities for speakers at events, such as offering information products either at the back of the room or by e-mail follow-up. I hope to explore these as I go along.
Meanwhile, if your company is following a thought leadership strategy to establish exposure and credibility in the marketplace, you may want to try some of these ideas. I’ll keep you posted to let you know how my initial effort panned out.
Got case studies? Send them along to Karen for future columns.
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Want more e-mail marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our e-mail columns, organized by topic.
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