Going To In-Person Events As An Msp
Going to In-Person Events as an MSP — Tips and Ideas
For the last couple of years, most of us have been working from home. Pandemic has changed the world of networking and events. Events went virtual because of lockdowns. Now they’re becoming in-person again.
These events are a great way to drive new business. Exhibiting at shows can be expensive, but you can achieve a lot as an attendee.
You’ve probably spent quite some time building your digital presence in the last couple of years. It’s time to leverage your digital connections and reputation at live events. Here are some tips and ideas for going to in-person events as a managed service provider once again.
Dos and Don’ts
Attend events you like and can benefit from
Check the agenda and see who’s going. See if there will be talks that interest you. Look for opportunities to learn about new technologies and best practices and interact with your target audience. Don’t attend events for the sake of attending events or that don’t add value to your business.
You might get early bird discounts and put yourself in a better position to make cheaper reservations and travel arrangements. You’ll also have more time to prepare for and build up to the event by networking, attending pre-event meeting, etc. Don’t wait until the last minute to confirm your participation as it will most likely impact the quality of your experience.
Partner with vendors and businesses
If it’s an opportunity for you to grow your business, it’s probably also an opportunity for your partners to grow as well. Share event details with them. Reach out to anyone who might be interested. See how you can collaborate to make the event more meaningful for everyone. You don’t have to attend the event on your own.
Carry marketing collateral
Make the most of this opportunity to give out brochures and other useful resources, promotional giveaways, etc., to get your name known amongst potential future customers.
Download the event’s app
This will give you quick access to a lot of useful information like the agenda, speaker bios, etc., which will help you be lively in and contribute to conversations. It will ensure you don’t miss out on the things on the agenda you’re interested in and help you build meaningful relationships. Many apps include the opportunity to make contact and organize meetings with the other attendees. This will help you identify target customers. Don't make your approach too salesy but focus on what you can do for the other person and you might just get the meeting that changes your business.
Take pictures and share your experience online
Promote your visit on social media and blogs. Share your learnings and key insights. Send these to your clients and qualified leads to build your reputation as a managed service provider and an expert.
Follow up with new connections
Quickly respond to inquiries and requests for brochures, demos, pricing details, etc., that you may have received. The prospect would have met with many people so it is important that you follow up quickly while they still remember who you are. Send useful information to other potential leads to win their trust and build professional relationships.
If there’s an opportunity to achieve your business goals by exhibiting — you’re able to reach the right audience, in the right location or in the right industry — go for it. Showcase relevant services, have collateral and invest in giveaways so people remember your name. The giveaways need not be expensive. They could be branded pens, notebooks and sticky notes that keep your name in front of potential customers and top of their minds.
Use a gimmick to attract people — utilize any talent your team may have. For instance, people drawing cartoons are always popular. Is your sys admin a hidden art talent? If possible have at least one member of your team present so people get a feel for the people they’ll be partnering with. If you have a specialty, offer free consultation sessions or clinics. Showcase your team's skills.
Be careful while planning your budget; do not get carried away. Make sure you do a thorough ROI exercise. Find out if it really is worth exhibiting — whether it will help you achieve your business objectives.
While events help you learn about your industry, clients and other professionally relevant matters, it is also a great way for you to engage this community and help them learn from your expertise as well. To help others learn from you, considering answering the questions you’re asked in Donald Miller’s StoryBrand fashion.
According to StoryBrand, your customer (the person asking you the question) is the hero of their story. They’re faced with a problem and are on a journey to solve it. Your job is to be their guide on this journey and help them be successful. Give them a plan to solve their problem and call them to action. Your plan should help them avoid failure and achieve success on their journey.
Any event you’re attending should help you achieve at least one (preferably more) of these MSP business objectives.
- Get more clients for your business (we’re talking actual sales and conversions)
- Build a pipeline of cold or warm leads that you can nurture as prospective clients (people who demonstrate interest by requesting information, checking your prices or taking any other marketing qualified action)
- Build partnerships that can help you scale your MSP business
- Grow existing client accounts by upselling and cross-selling other services
- Increase awareness of your MSP business by promoting your social channels, website, giving away your marketing materials like brochures, etc
You can set specific goals for each of these to track your progress. For instance, you might want to get inquiries from at least five C-level executives or connect with ten possible contacts on LinkedIn. Your goal could even be networking with specific experts or leaders because you share a common vision and ultimately see them contributing to the growth of your MSP business.
Setting your budget
Attending events can be an expensive affair with tickets costing in hundreds or even thousands. Add to that the costs of food, boarding, travel and other expenses and we’re talking serious money. But don’t be fazed by the cost of your events. Think of your events budget as an investment.
Try to focus on and gauge the returns you can expect to make instead of worrying about the costs or amount you’re spending. It’s better to spend $5,000 to get a return of $15,000 than to spend only $200 and get nothing at all in return.
While calculating your budget, consider your cash flows and how quickly you expect to get your money — if you’ll be happy with warm or cold leads or whether you need quick conversions and sales.
Get as much information as possible on the event from the organizers and independently so you can make a realistic assessment of the possibilities of attending the event. This will also help you make informed decisions regarding your budget so you can minimize risks and maximize your returns.
Selecting a venue
Is it local to you and potential customers? There is no point going to an area that you cannot easily support customers in. Is it easy (and therefore relatively inexpensive) to get to. If you are actively supporting customers, make sure there is support back home. Finally, check if the venue has meeting areas and coworking spaces that foster collaboration and where you can have serious business discussions out of the public areas.
Going to an in-person event as a managed service provider
Have fun and network like crazy. But don’t forget to promote yourself as a managed service provider and build mutually beneficial relationships with partners and clients for your business.