Next week at ISTE 2018, some 16,000 educators will descend upon to Chicago to learn, network, and devour some deep-dish pizza. As an edtech marketer competing with thousands of new technologies and ideas on display, what can you do to make your product or service become one of the handful of things that educators actually remember when they get home from the conference?
The answer isn’t sexy, but it’s true: smart planning and strategic follow-up. Here are six ways to maximize the return on your investment in ISTE (and edtech conferences in general).
Set goals. And no, “Sell to everyone I meet,” doesn’t count. We here at PRP are big on SMART goals that give you a measurable and time-limited definition of success. These goals will vary depending on where your company is in its life cycle: start-up entrepreneurs may focus on adding a certain number of prospects to their database, while legacy companies could set out to sign long-term contracts with a certain percentage of existing clients. In either case, the key is to formalize the goals and share them with your team.
Plan specific actions that will help you achieve those goals. At big, bustling conferences like ISTE, it can be easy to get carried away by the excitement. In a word, don’t. If your goal is to meet people, sitting in an hour-long session is not a productive way to spend your time. Whether you book yourself a day full of 15-minute check-ins or a night packed with dinners and drinks (or most likely, both), don’t put anything on your calendar until you are clear on the intended return on that investment of your time.
Get clear instructions for follow-up. Administrators and educators are jazzed to be at ISTE. They’re away from home, they’re mixing with their peers, and EVERYONE is trying to sell them something. No matter how thrilling a conversation you have on the show floor, that person may forget you, so be sure you get instructions from everyone you meet on how best to follow up with them or the decision-maker in their district after the show is over.
Always take notes. Attendees aren’t the only ones with a zillion things to see and do at ISTE. Your brain will be full, so don’t count on remembering details about the educators you meet and how they might become your customers. Whether you use pencil and paper, a laptop, or the latest phablet, write it down.
Segment your follow-up. The day after the show ends, those detailed notes will be your best friends, because they’ll give you clear marching orders for what to do next. If you met a ton of teachers but they can't buy from you, for example, don't send them a sales email. Send them something informative that will feed their interest in your brand and make them more likely to talk about you to the folks who hold the purse strings. If you’re lucky enough to connect with a superintendent or a CIO who is ready to buy, cut to the chase and send them information customized to their specific situation.
Review your performance. Goals don’t mean a thing unless you learn from them. Once you’ve finished your follow-up, look back at the targets you set before you got on the plane. If you met them, great! If you didn’t, ask yourself why not. Education marketing, like education itself, should always be a learning experience.
Have fun in Chicago, and if you’d like to come visit the PR with Panache! Storytelling Suite at the Wheeler Mansion, we’d be happy to see you!