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4 Simple Ways to Increase Engagement at Conventions

There are lots of ways to promote a convention or conference. Really, the marketing campaign for a conference isn’t that much different from the marketing campaign for anything else. But what if you want to promote yourself and really engage with the audience within a convention or conference? That’s a little trickier…at least, that’s how it might feel initially.

The secret truth about showing or tabling at a convention is that there are lots of ways to engage with your audience from within the walls of the show—often provided by the convention itself. 

Here are just four of them:

#1. Conference Specific Events

One of the staples of most pop culture conventions is the scavenger hunt. The first clue is printed in the program to get the attendees started. It’s a trend that has started moving into industry specific events as well. Make sure you get in on that action. Being a participant in the games and “shenanigans” that happen within the event space is one of the best ways to attract visitors to your booth that might not have ever stopped there otherwise. 

These shenanigans aren’t limited to simple scavenger hunts. At one conference, the organizers put together a puzzle that involved the scanning of QR codes that had been strategically placed around the show floor. Each QR code uncovered a different piece of the puzzle. There are often two or three of these things happening simultaneously. Make sure your booth is a participant in at least one of them.

#2. Use the Apps to Your Advantage

Obviously, you’ll want to make sure your booth is listed correctly in any printed programs. You might even want to buy some advertising space on the event’s printed materials. Most conferences and conventions these days are turning toward iOS and Android event apps. for their program and information releasing needs. This actually works to your advantage. Most of these apps will let conference attendees leave feedback. Some will even allow you to see this feedback get submitted in real time. You might even be able to interact directly with the audience.

A great way to use these apps to your advantage is to offer a special promotion or prize to anybody who visits your booth and gives you “the password.” People at conferences and conventions love swag. Speaking of which…

#3. Swag is Always a Good Investment

People love free stuff. It is amazing just how much good will you can build by giving away pins or stickers at events. The best swag, of course, is branded swag that can be used during and outside of the convention. Water bottles, for example, are always a good idea. Tote bags are another. T-shirts, though expensive to print, are always a worthy investment.

In addition to offering free swag at your booth or at your panels, buy space in the event’s swag bag. Postcards printed with your logo and a promo code are relatively cheap to print but you’ll get a lot more mileage out of putting an actual physical item in there (button, pin, deck of branded cards, whatever).

#4. Host Ninja Gigs

Most conferences and conventions have some sort of after-hours entertainment lined up for attendees (concerts, dinners, etc.). This doesn’t mean that music, readings, talks, etc. should be limited to the conference’s official programming lineup. Why not host a local musical group in your booth for a half hour or so. Non-official performances are called Ninja gigs and performers are always looking for places to have them because it’s great exposure for them.

Make sure you check with the conference organizers before offering your booth space to a musical group (especially if your booth is in the middle of the floor and the crowd might cause a traffic jam).

These are just four ways to directly engage with your audience at a conference. What are some of the things that you’ve done that have worked for you?