How to Successfully Run a Conference as a Start-Up

With competition at its highest, start-ups need to think of new ways to engage with partners, investors, prospects and the media to make the message stick.

Here Jade Thomas, Head of Marketing at Quantexa, talks CEO Today through the process of successfully running a conference.

Events are a brilliant way to do just this. Bringing people together to interact directly with you will humanise your brand and maintain that strong relationship between you and your customers. If you’re looking for a way to create a buzz around your company and bring in those prospects that you’ve been chasing for so long, your own conference could be the right way to do this.

These tips will help you execute the perfect event.

Have a clear business purpose

Firstly, you shouldn’t host an event for the sake of hosting an event. Having a clear business objective will influence the kind of event you run, who you invite, when you do it and how you execute it. Create a long and short-term strategy of what you ideally want to achieve, whether it’s recruiting, signing new clients or generating media attention for a new launch. This strategy will guide you throughout the event planning process and will stop you from getting distracted from the real goal.

Guests are here to learn

When planning your own event, make sure that you don’t solely talk about your company, what your company does and how your company does it. Your audience need to be able to relate to and interact with your business. Of course, your attendees will want to learn more about your products or services and what your plans are for the future, but they also want to learn more about the industry you sit in.

Keynote speakers are a great way to educate your audience in an engaging way. Combining different opinions from experts from across the industry will create a healthy debate among your audience. This is also a good way to build on your existing relationships. Ask some of your clients to speak at your event; it’s an effective way to show them that you respect their opinions and it also shows prospects the strong relationship you have already built.

Furthermore, if possible, add interactive experiences to your event agenda. Talks are good and informative but adding an interactive element, where your guests can engage with your product first hand, is always a great way to maintain attention and create a memorable event.

Amplify the message

You don’t want to put in all the work of hosting an event for no-one to know about it. Here, social media is your best friend. Launch a social media campaign that will generate excitement. Spilt this into three segments: pre-event, during and post-event.

It’s important to create a webpage (or simply use an online registration form) that allows people sign up to the event, enabling you to track how many attendees are potentially coming. Drip feed exciting announcements, such as who your speakers are or what entertainment you’ll be having, to keep people engaged.

During the event, get a hashtag going so people can share their images and thoughts of the event while it’s going on. This is also a great way to get people who aren’t attending to also get involved.

The morning after the night before

The day after your event is the most important day of your event strategy. Months of hard work has made the event a success, you’ve received exceptional feedback, gathered great video and image content and write-ups – make sure that you leverage this and use it to follow up with those who attended and those who weren’t able to make it. It’s the social proof that gives your event credibility, gets you noticed and attracts people to attend future events.

Follow up with a thank you note to every attendee, summarising the event and the key takeaways over email. Make sure to keep it personal to maintain that relationship you’ve worked so hard to build.

Hosting a conference can be a great success for your company, and if executed well, turned into a yearly calendar event. Make sure you have a solid business purpose, capitalise on your network to create an exciting and informative event and most importantly, spread the word.

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