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Getting Ahead of the Curve: Pre-Event Marketing Research

You can go a long way toward ensuring the success of your presence at a technology event by doing your homework and engaging in a host of marketing activities well before the curtain rises.  Here are a few tips on how to make it all work.

It’s clear that events and conferences are great places to attract new customers, as well as solidify relationships with existing ones.  UBM recently conducted an online survey of more than 400 business and technology professionals to understand their actions and preferences around industry events. The survey confirmed much of the knowledge we already have, while also revealing some new insights.

What we’ve learned time and again is that the actions you take and the marketing activities in which you engage well before and leading up to an event are crucial in determining how successful the event itself will ultimately be when it comes to enhancing your company’s brand and product presence.

Know Your Prospects

The first thing to think about is your audience.  Who are you talking to?  What are they like?  And what do they need and want?

Among other things, that means knowing what industry they’re in, the specific business needs they’re looking to solve with technology, their top business challenges, and where they are in the tech purchasing processing.

Once you have a handle on all of that information, the next step is to execute a strong pre-event content marketing plan.  To that effect, our first tip is to market to potential attendees in the places where they’re going to do their research.

As our survey indicated, event attendees spend a good amount of time before an event figuring out how they’re going to budget their time while there, and precisely which vendors and booths they want to visit.  In fact, more than 50% of those surveyed said they schedule time to meet with vendors before attending an industry event.  Equally significant, more than half of those surveyed said they prefer to access tech vendor content on independent third-party sites, due to the more objective nature of those sites.

It pays to be creative.  Look into additional buys or sponsorships to help get your message out.  Be sure to tell customers in the same locality as the event that you’ll be there.  You can also leverage the event’s PR team to find out about pre-event PR activities that can maximize exposure.  And you can also arrange speaking opportunities, build a social media buzz, and advertise the event on your own web site.

Don’t Wait to Engage

Once you’ve determined who your audience is and where they go prior to an event to research their involvement, it’s important to engage them and pique their interest in you and your products.  Our survey revealed that fully 82% of event attendees are more likely to visit your booth if they’ve heard or read about you, or connected with you before the event.

Which brings us to our second pre-event tip: offer prospects valuable and relevant assets that are educational.  And where possible, gate assets and gather business card information from potential attendees.

From white papers to website content, webcasts to video, editorial coverage on technology websites to digital radio or podcasts, you have a wide range of marketing content to connect with attendees and educate them as to who you are and how you can help them.

It’s also important not to push too hard or deliver an overt sales pitch to prospects in your pre-event marketing activities.  There will be time enough for that down the road if you succeed in engaging them properly.  Meanwhile, be patient, be persistent and persevere.

It’s All in the Prep Work

As any good house painter will tell you, the bulk of the work is done in the preparation stage: sanding, spackling, taping, and other related activities.  When that’s done correctly, the actual painting goes rather quickly.

So when it comes to painting your (event) masterpiece, start early, promote consistently and get your attendees the right marketing assets at the right time—and in the places where they go to educate themselves.  Observe these steps conscientiously, and you’ll be sure to get the most out of your event presence when the bell rings, the curtain rises and the event floor is filled with existing and potential new customers.


Interested in seeing the full research report? Contact me at [email protected]!

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