Guest blog post by Christopher Downs, Director of Product Development, Quadlyfe

In the world of higher education, technology conferences are a vital starting point for developing brand identification and relationships. Educators and administrators are constantly on the hunt for professional and institutional development. Conferences fit in as an opportunity for thought leaders and industry professionals to come together and share ideas, data and solutions. Conferences are also a social gathering for folks to maintain their relationships and see old friends and colleagues. For start-ups it is important to understand the dynamics of each and every conference in order to get the most out of them. Paying to simply set up an exhibit or a booth and relying on foot traffic is a sure fire way to waste money fast!

At Quadlyfe, we have attended, exhibited and spoke at some the largest higher education conferences and even host our own annual conference. From these events, we have learned a few tips that might help you too.

The Power of Speaking Opportunities

Speaking opportunities are equally if not more important than exhibiting. When applying and registering for a conference always make sure to look into the speaking opportunities. Oftentimes, the event hosts will ask organizations to apply for acceptance. Never make the presentation solely about the product. In general attendees want to learn and conferences want to make sure that attendees are satisfied. Specifically, attendees want to learn about a particular development within the industry or a strategy to improve their current efforts. Collaborating with a partner company or better yet a current client will instantly increase the chances that the presentation is accepted. Including case studies, testimonials and empirical data will help put an application to present at the top of the list.

Generating Leads

Whether a company is presenting or exhibiting at a conference, the number one objective is generating leads. To do so successfully, it will take some creativity. When presenting, take the time to collect every session attendee’s business card in a hat. At the end of the session draw a few cards from the hat and giveaway a couple iTunes gift cards. This is an easy way to fully engage the audience while squeezing every drop of usefulness out of the speaking opportunity.

Gamification can also drive more folks to exhibitor booths. At a conference in Birmingham last year we used a slide show presentation of celebrity headshots to attract attendees to the booth. Contestants would guess the celebrity’s major in college. We ran an email campaign to conference attendees and gave away small prizes as well as a free trial period for one of our products. From this campaign alone we averaged over fifty unique leads per day. It also provided a fun way to follow up and start the sales cycle with each and every lead.

Making An Impression

Gamification is not the only way in which a company can stand out at a conference. SWAG items can also be impactful. At this year’s NACAC annual conference Chegg stole the show by giving away orange branded boxes for attendees to lug around all the SWAG items they had gathered throughout the conference. The boxes were the same ones Chegg uses for shipping textbooks. This simple yet genius idea created constant touch points for their brand virtually everywhere at the conference.

As important as conferences are they can be equally expensive. For start-ups resources are always tight, when making the decision to allocate the resources it only makes sense to take full advantage of the opportunity. This requires some creative and strategic thinking but the rewards can be ten fold! All the influencers in the market are gathered for one time, an effective campaign or tactic can put your company’s name on the map, which is far more impactful than the floor plan!


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