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Guide

Convention Panels as Marketing Tools

If you regularly attend conventions or trade shows that feature panels or seminars, you can use them to grow your customer base. In most industries, the bulk of convention programming is conducted by exhibitors and attendees. All you have to do to get your panel on the schedule is contact the event coordinator (contact information can be found in mailings or on the show’s web site) and make sure you meet the submission deadlines. While extremely large conventions may charge for the use of space and facilities, in most cases it doesn’t cost anything to run a panel. The show gives you space in exchange for the added programming. Some conventions will even pay you for running panels in the form of free admission, credits toward booth space, or complimentary hotel rooms.

When deciding the topic of your panel, it’s important to choose a subject that will appeal to your target demographic, but won’t just bring in existing customers. One common error I see at gaming conventions are panels like “What’s Happening At Company X” or “All About New Product Y.” These types of panels only bring in people who are already interested in the company or product being touted. While such preaching to the choir might be good for the ego, it does little to grow the customer base.

General interest topics that play to the strengths of your product will attract attendees who aren’t already aware of your company. For example, my company (Hex Games) produces games that are simple to learn and use, so we focus on panel topics like “Introducing Newbies to Role-Playing” and “Gaming for People on the Go.” When you advertise a general-interest panel topic, make sure that’s what you deliver. Attendees who come to the panel expecting advice on a particular subject and get a one-hour advertisement for your company will be put off by the bait-and-switch tactic. Keep the reference to your products subtle and topical, using them as examples to illustrate your points.

Most people don’t enjoy sitting through a 45-minute commercial followed by a brief question and answer session, especially when the subject of the presentation isn’t precisely what they were hoping to learn from the panel. Audience participation lets the audience guide the panel towards the topics they want to learn more about, and makes them feel like they’re engaging in a discussion among equals rather than listening to an expert pontificate from on high. After briefly introducing yourself and the panel topic, you should ask the audience what they came to the panel to learn and what their ideas are on the subject. If the audience doesn’t immediately respond, have some talking points prepared to fill the dead air. After each point, go back to the audience for questions and ideas. Eventually, the audience will start participating and your job shifts from presenter to discussion moderator. Search Engine Optimisation Services will provide answers to all the questions of the marketing for the business. The ideas will be beneficial to provide an excellent design to the websites of the business person.  

Panels are a great marketing tool, especially if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on traditional advertising. Conducting a panel about a topic that is of general interest to your demographic allows you to introduce potential customers to your product. Encouraging audience participation makes you–and by extension, your company–seem more approachable, which translates to more booth traffic. Standing up in front of an audience and leading a discussion might be nerve-racking at first, but after a few times you’ll get used to it (and better at it).

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