I don’t have a big budget, but would really like to build some momentum around a new product being launched at an upcoming conference. What strategies would you suggest I employ prior to and at the conference?

Answer

If you want to really highlight a new product the best way to do this is by becoming a sponsor or exhibitor. This will ensure that the conference organizers work with you to really get your product launch the attention it deserves – on-site branding, speaking slot, product demos, exhibition booth and so on.

But, assuming you do not have the budget for this the best way to highlight your new product is through networking.

1. Online networking – reach out to attendees in advance of the conference through the event’s online networking tool or other forms of social media. Inform them of your new product, and request a meeting at the event.

2. In person networking – as well as scheduled meetings, you should also consider informal networking events. Conference organizers recognize the value of networking, so work hard to create as many networking opportunities as possible for their event attendees: Speed Networking (we do this at Terrapinn events – it is like speed dating; quick-fire introductions that open up the lines of communication), cocktail parties, lunches etc. There is another side to conferences — the social side — that can prove extremely beneficial from a networking perspective.

3. Make introductions – remember, you are not the only one at the conference seeking networking opportunities. Foster other relationships by introducing people you meet to those you already know. The people you introduce will remember you for promoting that relationship. And that could lead to them introducing you to their contacts, ensuring you get your new product in front of an even wider network of people.

4. Twitter – many events have an active Twitter audience, and you can piggy back off of this. Find out what the event’s hashtag is, and then use it! For example, if I was launching a product at Cell Culture World Congress USA 2013 I might send out a tweet as follows: “Excited to be at Cell Culture USA this week! Launching a new product on XYZ – tweet me for info! #Cell2013” That way anyone following the hashtag #Cell2013 would see my tweet and know that a new product is being launched.

5. Press – journalists often attend events. Find out who is confirmed to attend, and reach out to them to schedule a meeting. They may very well pick up the story and run it, giving you valuable PR coverage… for free!

6. Follow up – don’t abandon your networking strategies once the conference is over. Take the contact information you collected and touch base with people you met. Be friendly, and offer to send them follow up information on your new product.