When done properly, a good business conference can give you a massive platform to expand your influence, grow your authority, and/or attract new customers and clients to your business. But in order for it to work, you must plan ahead.
Why Host a Business Conference?
You’ve probably been to dozens of business conferences over the years. But perhaps you’re considering hosting your own conference for the first time. You’re probably wondering: is it worth it? In most cases, the answer is a resounding yes. Here’s why:
- Communicates authority. When you host a conference, you’re telling people in your industry that you’re a brand to watch. It communicates brand authority to both customers and competitors. This perception lasts far longer than the conference. For many, this is the first impression they have of your business (which gives you plenty of goodwill for months/years to come).
- Creates brand visibility. Think about all of the places you get to include your logo and brand name when hosting a conference – banners, backdrops, signage, digital content, ad graphics, handouts, agendas, etc. Attendees will see your logo hundreds of times over the course of a conference.
- Enhances networking. Conferences serve as good networking opportunities for everyone (including attendees). However, they’re especially valuable as the host. Because you’re the one running the event, people want to engage with you (and will make time for it).
- Gives you a voice. When you attend a business conference, you only have limited opportunities to speak up. When you host the conference, the microphone and stage are yours. While the entire conference shouldn’t be a sales pitch, you certainly have opportunities to showcase products, services, and new opportunities.
These are just a few of the reasons why hosting a business conference is often more powerful than attending one. But for the hard work to pay off, you have to execute.
4 Tips for a Successful Business Conference
We’re not going to say hosting a business conference is the most difficult thing you’ll ever do, but it does require real planning, effort, and creativity. Live events always come with their own set of challenges. To be successful, we suggest keeping the following in mind:
1. Assemble a Team
You can’t host a business conference on your own (nor should you try). There are so many different individual roles involved in planning and executing a conference. Whether you plan on having 25 attendees or 2,000, forming a team of skilled “A Players” is a must.
Ideally, you want people who have worked on live events before. Your team should include creative people who are quick on their toes and calm under pressure. Stuff will break – the key is to have a team of people who can put things back together and keep the conference on track.
2. Align With the Right Partners
Just like you need the right team, you also need solid partners. This includes:
- Venue. Choose a location that’s convenient for attendees. It’s also nice if the event space is interesting, unique, or attractive. (This is why a conference hosted in Vegas is instantly more appealing than one hosted in Columbus, Ohio.)
- Speakers. You need content for the event. Find some good speakers and presenters to take the stage.
- Media. The right media partners will help you get the word out about your conference and increase attendance. You might even be able to secure some free exposure by giving media partners sponsorship rights.
This is obviously an oversimplification, but you get the idea. If you want to host a successful conference, you need to align the event with the right partners. This is a great place to start.
3. Design Materials
Having good materials and resources is like the cherry on top of a successful conference. For example, you’ll want to design programs that you can hand out to attendees when they arrive. This might seem like a small detail, but the quality of these programs helps to set the first impression people have of the event. PrintingCenterUSA has helpful program templates you can use to get started.
4. Focus on Content & Experience
With hundreds of small things that have to get figured out on the back end, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the challenge of planning a conference and pour your energy into the wrong things. However, at the end of the day, there are really only two things that matter: (1) content and (2) experience.
When we say content, we mean the actual information that’s delivered at the conference. This may include keynote speeches, presentations, Q&A sessions, etc. The content that’s delivered to attendees needs to be engaging and informative. People should leave feeling like they learned something valuable they can put into action immediately.
The experience refers to how people feel at the conference. This is a much more superficial component, but is equally significant in the grand scheme of things. Everything from lighting and music to food and giveaways contribute to the experience.
Adding it All Up
If you plan ahead and put in the work, hosting a business conference has the potential to elevate your brand and generate big returns.
Let these tips serve as a starting point – a launching pad, if you will – but don’t harness your creativity. A willingness to take a few chances and try new things will serve you well.