Increase your qualified leads, new customers, partner relationships and revenue by speaking at industry trade shows and conferences.

 
how to speak at trade shows
 

According to CEIR, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 81% of trade show attendees have buying authority.  So, shouldn't all companies go to trade shows to generate as much revenue as possible? There is a way that you can do this without breaking the bank.  Better still, it’s often free.

Speaking At Trade Shows: The Forgotten Opportunity

Exhibiting is the first thing that comes to mind when companies think about participating in an industry trade show.  What’s often overlooked, and could actually provide a greater return, is the opportunity to speak at the show.  The educational value of speaker sessions is frequently one of the key factors in determining which shows businesses will send their employees to.  For you, it can be an important and often no cost way to generate new business. 

Here are 3 types of speaking opportunities that you can take advantage of:

1.  It's free. Just pick a topic and let them know you want to speak.

Many shows open the opportunity to speak at their event to anyone who has expertise in the topics they have selected to focus on during their educational sessions.  You probably already know the trade shows that are most important to your business.  Check out their website to see if they have a “call for papers” or "call for speakers" and are accepting speaker submissions called “abstracts.” Depending on the size of the show, the first request for speaker submissions could be released up to 8 or 9 months before the show actually takes place. 

Helpful Tip:  Be sure to get on their email list to be notified of important deadlines and requirements so that you don’t have to remember to regularly visit their site to check on updates. 

The speaker section of the website should include a list of topic categories, chosen by the show, which will be of interest to their attendees.  Select a topic or two on which you’re an expert and prepare your abstract.  This is usually a 1 or 2 paragraph overview of what you will speak about and what the attendees should expect to learn.  The requirements vary from show to show so be sure to know exactly what they’re requesting or your submission may be tossed.  

Your abstract will need to be submitted by the due date posted on the show’s site so be sure to know what it is and add it to your calendar.  The due date is usually anywhere from 4-6 months before the show takes place so the selection committee has time to review the submissions and choose the speakers.

Remember, your session shouldn't be an hour long sales pitch.  You’re there to inform and educate. Providing insights, advice, recommendations and help on your topic of choice will position you as a thought leader and encourage attendees to see you and your company as the ones with whom they should be doing business.  Leave the hard sell at home.

Check the fine print:  Before submitting an abstract for yourself or another member of your team, it’s important to be fairly sure that your proposed speaker will actually be able to attend.  I've seen a lot of abstracts submitted without a firm commitment from the proposed speaker and this could come back to bite you.  Some shows will allow you to substitute the speaker you originally submitted for someone else if they can’t attend.  Other shows won’t allow this and could eliminate your session completely, replacing it with another company and topic if you try to switch speakers.

2.  Pay to play.

Some shows incorporate a speaking session into their exhibitor or sponsorship packages.  Expo sales departments know that companies want to speak at their event and they’ll throw it in to entice you to spend more money on a larger booth or expensive show sponsorship.  If, and only if, you’re considering a show like this anyway and would purchase a booth or sponsorship because it’s important to your business, then this is a good opportunity to get extra exposure for yourself and your company.  Don’t just jump at the opportunity if it’s not a show that you already see value in.

3.  By invitation only.

For more focused technology events, often run by tech companies like Microsoft, for example, the opportunity to speak is usually by invitation only.

Microsoft Inspire, previously known as Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference or WPC, is a good example of this. Microsoft Inspire is the place to be each July as resellers, distributors and channel partners from around the world come together to hear Microsoft's vision for the coming year, attend educational sessions, learn from other partners and spark ideas for business growth.

If you’re a VAR, MSP, CSP or IT consultant who resells products or services from Microsoft or other technology vendors and you haven’t been approached about speaking at their event, discuss your participation with your partner account manager or other contact.  You will probably not be given your own session but may be asked if you would like to participate in a panel discussion with other vendors, customers or partners.  It never hurts to ask.

The bottom line

Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means saying that you should never exhibit at trade shows again and speaking is the only way to go.  Exhibiting at live trade shows and conferences can be a valuable component of a company’s marketing plan and can certainly be enhanced by speaking as well.

For those companies who would like to participate but dismiss trade shows as too expensive, this is an opportunity to get in the game and reap the benefits of additional customers, new partner relationships, and so much more. 

 

2017 channel partner events and technology conferences

Here is a sampling of channel partner events and technology conferences that you may want to consider. 

January 2017
Citrix Summit Partner Conference
January 9-11, 2017
Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California

February 2017
IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference
February 13-16, 2017
The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas, Nevada

RSA Conference
February 13-17, 2017
Moscone Center, San Francisco, California

HIMSS
February 19-23, 2017
Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida

March 2017
Google Cloud Next Conference
March 8-10, 2017
Moscone Center, San Francisco, California

IBM Interconnect
March 19-23, 2017
MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay Hotel and Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada

WorldHostingDay Global
March 25-31, 2017
Europa-Park, Rust, Germany

April 2017
HostingCon (global)
April 3-6, 2017
Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, California

Channel Partners Conference and Expo
April 10-13, 2017
Mandalay Bay Hotel and Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada

Lenovo Accelerate Partner Conference
April 24-26, 2017
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, Orlando, Florida

NetSuite SuiteWorld
April 24-27, 2017
Sands Expo & Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada

May 2017
Kaseya Connect User and Partner Conference
May 9-11, 2017
Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada

June 2017
Cisco Live
June 25-29, 2017
Mandalay Bay Hotel and Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada

July 2017
Microsoft Inspire (formerly known as Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference)
July 9-13, 2017
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C.

CompTIA ChannelCon
July 31-August 2, 2017
JW Marriott, Austin, Texas

August 2017
VMworld and Partner Exchange at VMworld
August 27-31, 2017
Mandalay Bay Hotel and Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada

October 2017
Oracle OpenWorld
October 1-4, 2017
Moscone Center, San Francisco, California

November 2017
Salesforce Dreamforce
November 6-9, 2017
Moscone Center, San Francisco, California

ConnectWise IT Nation Partner Summit
November 9-11, 2017
Hyatt Regency, Orlando, Florida


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