March 13, 2020 Last updated April 17th, 2020 823 Reads share

How to Market Your Startup at Exhibitions

Image Credit: DepositPhotos

From the point of view of marketing, an exhibition is a platform where points of interest are in maximum contact. It helps to increase audience reach, increase interest in your saas platform, closer contact of supply and demand. An effective exhibition in the long term will lead to an increase in sales and useful contacts. Attending such events provides an opportunity to conduct marketing analysis and evaluate current trends among buyers. One of the best ways to get on the list of startups visible on the world market is to take part in a large startup conference such as Web Summit, Collision or Startup Grind.

How Are Startup Conferences Arranged and Why Do You Need Them for Startup PR

All startup conferences are arranged approximately the same. At some point, the organizers realized that it was boring to just make IT-conferences, on which the same big brands would talk about new products. It’s much more useful to call startups, make active movements and pitches – this is how the audience gathers better.

Interpretation companies can sell sponsorship packages and exhibition stands.

For example, Web Summit (70 thousand participants), and Collision (30 thousand participants) are large IT-conferences with a share of innovations.

But it is precisely this desire of the organizers to bask in the interest of the public to start-ups that will allow you to get PR at a low cost.

Startup conferences give startups cheap tickets, places at the exhibition, free slots in the program, many discounts from partners and good opportunities for networking and attracting investors.

Outcomes for Your PR Strategy

Firstly, if you have never been to such conferences, you will receive guaranteed new knowledge. You will return with the feeling that you need to work with a vengeance. At the same time, after pitches and negotiations, you will believe in yourself.

Secondly, you get the very same networking opportunities. Large start-ups are one of the few places on earth where YC, Andreessen Horowitz, CEO / CTO of large corporations, Techcrunch, as well as crowds of other journalists and bloggers go near you.

Thirdly, you will receive a quality mark. If you were selected for Collision, then your idea is to have a place, which means it’s worth talking to you.

Investors and journalists are more willing to communicate with startups that someone else has already filtered out.

You can refer to your participation in conferences and this will clearly increase your chances of meeting with investors outside of conferences.

What Not To Do

If you just stand at the Alpha Stream Show at the Web Summit or Grind at the Startup Grind, YC will not fit your rack. TechCrunch will not write about you and will not call Andreessen Horowitz himself.

You will simply stand among other startups in the midst of a crowd that goes from stage to stage.

If you didn’t go to the pitch on the main stage, only a dozen other startups who are waiting in line will listen to your performance.

Startup conferences, like any b2b events, require preparation. It is just a place where there is everything. Yes, both investors and journalists go somewhere nearby. You need to be more active and make an appointment with them yourself.

Who is the audience and what do they want. Between the rows mainly go:

  1. Local students. You distinguish them by individual badge and age.
  2. Entrepreneurs, startups. Not everyone stood by the stands, but many came as guests.
  3. Companies that sell themselves.
  4. Investment funds.
  5. Accelerators
  6. Journalists

Where to Go

Take it and give in everywhere – then decide where to go, at the same time practice pitching, protecting your project. Interviewing is easier than it sounds, but it’s worth a little preparation.

How to Prepare for Applying

The larger the conference, the more rigid the formal process for selecting startups.

First, you need to fill out a questionnaire. In addition to the contact information, you will need a 7-word startup description and basic information about the team, funding, and industry. If all goes well, a scout will write to you and offer a call.

After you pass the call, you will be able to apply for a pitch contest, acceleration, communication with mentors and other useful events.

To do this, you will need:

  1. Link to LinkedIn.
  2. Make a pitch
  3. Give a link to a site or application.

Give answers to standard questions like:

  1. Why should your startup be part of the “such and such” conference?
  2. Describe your startup tweet-style
  3. Team Experience?
  4. Competition?
  5. What channel (s) or tool (s) are fueling your customer growth?
  6. Why is now the right time for your product/solution to hit your specific market?
  7. Describe your company current traction

For a pitch contest, you will most likely be asked to provide a video for the minute where you talk about the project.

Do not rush to hire an expensive videographer. Enough video shot on a good phone camera.

How to Prepare for the Interview: What Scouts Ask

After you have passed the initial test and the organizers realized that you have a hundredth application in a niche without differences, you will be assigned a call. Phones last 15-20 minutes and spend their scouts.

They are not afraid of them. Conference scouts are not some sharks on the venture capital market. They are simply mid-level employees who keep in mind two conflicting tasks:

  1. Select good startups
  2. Sell your tickets

That is, they are on your side in advance. Scouts act according to the script: they ask you about the product, about the team, about the readiness of MVP, and investments. Formally, these are the same questions that VC will ask you, but scouts are simply interested in having answers to questions.

If you are not even ready for the raw version of your application, you can collect an animation of the interface based on the export from the design and send it to the scout screencast.

After the interview, the scout assigns prospective applications for discussion at the organizing committee. In a couple of weeks, you will receive a letter of congratulation and a link to purchase group tickets at a discount.

After that, you will still have to go to the pitch contest and upload the logo for the stand.

Once you go to such a conference once, and you get a significant PR.

For example, the organizers of Collision and Web Summit are very interested in success stories – they need every year

1. Show that startups are growing

2. Sell tickets.

Therefore, having passed the first conference, getting into the second will take much less time.

Conference Networking

As I said before, startup conferences are a great opportunity to talk with anyone. But all meetings must be arranged in advance. Tidy up your LinkedIn page, fill out AngelList), install the official app and start writing to anyone you need, offering meetings during the conference.

Ideally, during the conference during the day, you will be in meetings, only occasionally running into the most interesting reports. But do not forget about two more opportunities to find new contacts.

Firstly, for large conferences, very cool targeted chats/publics are going. This is a very targeted audience.

Secondly, dozens of evening parties are held around conferences. For example, about 50 parties are held around the Web Summit.

Golden Rules of Parties

  • No need to waste time on typical parties, you need new contacts!
  • Leave in a couple of hours, before interesting communication turns into an alcoholic feast.

To still get the desired PR that you are following or flying to the exhibition, I suggest that you follow the following framework:

1. Polish your pitch on each new client.

2. Track what is “NOT impressed” in your pitch and the interlocutor’s reaction

3. Be sure to ask the one who came up at the beginning – what they are interested in or need.

4. Have a site with answers to frequently asked questions that customers can ask in order to quickly show answers.

5. Have a pair of laptops with open different pages of the site to show these answers quickly.

6. Do not focus on the little things, remember that you have only 5-7 minutes for each visitor. Nobody looks at how much your program is – it really works as stated.

7. Finish communication on irrelevant topics.

8. Collect business cards.

9. Figure out at least briefly – the name of the company and what they agreed on, or what was offered.

10. Set goals for attending the summit and follow them during it. By hours, by schedule, by the route.

11. Make a SWOT analysis based on the results of the summit – what you saw, heard, who addressed, what was the interest, etc.

12. Make all contacts and business cards in CRM. Start chatting.

web summit -DepositPhotos



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