LMS Marketing: L&D Conferences – Focus On Fewer And Better Leads
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Conferences As An LMS Marketing Staple

Let me start by saying that a lot of learning tech buyers go to conferences to search for an LMS. So, if they are there, then you have to be there too.

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Some will dispute this and say that CLOs and VPs of Training don’t go to conferences. However, they are not the ones doing the hard work of finding an LMS. Especially in large companies. The ones searching are sometimes several steps below the executive level and these people carry a lot of weight in the LMS buying decision.

There are some LMS vendors who show up at every major L&D and HR conference. Some newer vendors with bulging wallets and recent funding try them all to see which ones are the best. Later, they jettison the bad ones and just focus on the ones where they got the most leads that turned into opportunities. Some older vendors continue to attend all of the conferences, year after year, regardless of the results.

The crazy thing here is how much money is wasted at these conferences. The minimum cost of exhibiting is around $20,000 if you include travel, giveaway items, etc. Some vendors max out and spend six figures per conference. If they do ten to twenty conferences per year, that’s one to three million dollars out of their budget. Imagine how many more qualified leads they could get if they invested in more content marketing or a better web presence.

My advice is to limit your company to between two to five conferences a year, based on what you’re selling and which conferences have the right buyers for you (check out the list below). Then scale up or down once you find out which ones are the best. Here are some tips to help you get the most from your next eLearning event.

Focus On Quality Leads Vs. Quantity

Avoid focusing on generating a lot of leads at conferences. If you really want leads, you can get them, but only a small percentage of them will be worth anything and will actually distract from the leads that have a budget and are likely to buy. The worst thing that can happen is having a qualified buyer come to your booth, but then leave because there are too many people ahead of them trying to scrounge promotional items.

Build The Buzz Before You Book The Flight

Start spreading the word about the conference well in advance to schedule meetings and let people know you’ll be there. If you have a booth, tell social media followers where they can find you and invite them to stop by. If you're just be mixing and mingling at the conference (sans booth), it’s still a good idea to build the buzz. For example, even schedule one-on-one meetings with leads who want more info. Even if this doesn't generate meetings, it communicates that your company is active and vibrant.

Create A List Of Goals For Each Conference

You need to set some measurable marketing goals before you even set foot in the conference. Determine how many leads you want to walk away with, or how many names you’d like to add to your mailing list. Bear in mind that you’re aiming for quality prospects who are likely to convert into sales, not just trying to expand your database with empty leads in order to meet a personal quota.

Don’t Wait To Extend Free Trial/Demo Invites

Many marketers wait until after the conference to offer free trials and demos to qualified leads. However, why wait if you know that the buyer is already interested in your product and wants to try it for themselves? Have a tablet or smartphone on hand so that you can quickly sign-up new users for your free trial. Or schedule a consultation with another member of your team. Not only will you get all their contact info, but you know that they’re serious leads – otherwise, they may not take the time to provide all their personal details. Signing up for a trial or demo shows that they’re willing to commit to some degree, even if there are no strings attached.

Get The Inside Scoop From Seasoned Veterans

eLearning professionals and marketers who regularly attend conferences and trade shows will be able to offer recommendations, such as which events are worth the time and money and which you may want to skip. Ask around on social media, online forums, or in-person networking events to get the inside scoop. Let them know what you expect, how much room you have in your budget and your target audience. That way they’ll have a complete picture on which to base their suggestions.

My Personal Favorite Learning & Development Conferences

Other Noteworthy Events

The bottom line here is that you should, by all means, exhibit at conferences, but only in moderation. The caveat is that you need to focus on fewer and better leads. Stop trying to generate a large crowd of potential prospects around your booth and concentrate on quality over quantity. You can also pair it with an effective content marketing strategy to engage your online audience and follow-up with leads.

If you want to learn more about developing successful LMS marketing strategies even with a modest budget and heavy competition, download the eBook 10 Marketing Strategies That No Learning Tech Vendor Can Live Without.

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