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Run Your Own Conference to Scale Your Company This Fall Events are a big investment of time and money but the potential rewards are worth it.

By Serenity Gibbons

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Getting your brand noticed and building credibility as a thought leader in your industry takes more than having a blog and social media profiles. It's important to combine these online strategies with offline tactics that provide a personalized approach. Creating your own conference also offers a way to meet and interact with your audience, building further credibility and engagement that can stimulate company growth.

However, for many organizations, event marketing and live speaking engagements can prove to be a huge waste of money if not done correctly. Planning events is not only time consuming, but it also requires an enormous amount of resources and planning for the effort to pay off.

The best way to make a lasting impact with company events of all kinds are to keep it local so more attendees have the opportunity to try your product or service. You also want to ensure that your strategies move attendees through the sales funnel before, during, and after the event. Here are tips on how to deliver a successful conference this fall:

Start with the goal.

Establishing the ultimate end goal of your event before you even start is the key to a successful event. Your goal might be to increase leads or grow your overall revenue. It might be to further enhance your thought leadership position.

Choose the type of event that will work with that exact goal in mind. For example, an industry conference might be more ideal for finding talent, investors, and strategic partners while a product launch event will be the best approach for more leads. Offer a seminar or training session for your customers to raise the bar on your thought leadership status.

Related: 4 Tips for Hosting an Unforgettable Marketing Event

Create an engaging sales cycle.

According to LiveMarketing, 83 percent of brands say that increasing sales is their number one reason for event participation. To leverage the opportunities for leads from your event, it's important to think how the entire sales cycle can support your efforts.

Event and sales experts Mike Vega and Joe Gnapp of Unfair Advantage Events specialize in logistics and maximizing sales at events. With a combined 25 years of sales and events experience, they know what works when deploying effective sales funnels for multiple events. "Anyone can create the atmosphere to make a sale, but if you can't deliver, it means nothing," Mike explains.

Creating that atmosphere involves positioning your product mix so that it is the most attractive to your target audience. You can push them through the sales funnel by using multiple channels of marketing. Each channel shares a consistent message about the event and how it will address a specific pain point or issue the audience is having.

Also, ensure that you have an actual sales team whose sole purpose is to touch, follow-up with, and sell to prospective customers or clients. Telemarketing can be a critical tool to use during an event. For example, sales staff can contact those that appeared to be interested in your event because they visited the site to learn more about it but have yet to buy a ticket. Following up with a call, text, or email can help to convince them why it's worth coming to the event.

"Before and during the event, our team is selling tickets for that event. This is key to selling a service down the line even if it's far after the event is over," Joe adds. "You want to check in after the event to see if they have any questions or if you can provide them with more information. It's not unusual to close numerous more sales after an event ends if you follow through with contacting each attendee."

Related: 4 Ways Technology Is Changing the Events Industry

Keep it local.

Another key to success is focusing on sourcing local businesses and resources to help make your event impactful. Not only will you be helping the local community and supporting businesses in your market, but this will also keep costs down and simplify the planning process. This is a great opportunity to reach out to others in your local area to create mutually beneficial partnerships for future events and projects.

"One of the big advantages of keeping your event local is that you are able to meet face to face with your vendors and everyone involved. That human touch is still so critical to business today despite how much is done online," notes Mike.

Related: 4 Tips for Marketing Events That Will Transform Your Online Business

Have a budget and metrics.

Create a set budget on what you plan on spending for the conference so you can track and manage the costs associated with it. When you do not make a budget, you tend to spend more than you intended and you cannot assess the real return you got from hosting an event.

Using metrics like how many people attended against planned, how many leads resulted, or how your other goals were met by the event can be compared to the budget you set to see how the resources were spent and what they achieved for you. While it may take you one or two events to really start understanding this process, it will pay off because it will shape future events, helping you to create more memorable and targeted events that garner better returns and that validate the budget you set.

Related: How Data Can Help You to Personalize Marketing Events and Boost ROI

Leverage sponsors to build greater brand awareness.

Depending on the type of event you are hosting, you may be able to maximize the money you spend, build more brand awareness, and generate greater interest among your target audience when you include brands to participate as sponsors or to co-host your conference, seminar, or presentation.

You will have more people offering something of value to the event. Plus, as part of their participation, they will be publicizing the conference on their channels for more buzz and interest. Overall, this can really push your event to reach more of the people you seek in order to scale your business.

Related: 7 Reasons to Stop Writing Cold Emails and Throw an Event Instead

Get started now!

Don't hesitate in your planning process. Put this marketing tactic to work now that you have these tips for creating a successful event. You will soon find that these actions will help you achieve those goals you set.

Serenity Gibbons

Equal Rights Advocate, Promoting Amazing Companies Across the Globe

Serenity Gibbons is a former assistant editor at the Wall Street Journal and a New York University alumna living in California. She is the local unit lead for NAACP in Northern California with a mission is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. She enjoys writing and interviewing people who are making a difference in the world. 

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