Q. What’s one creative way to make your startup branding stand out at a big conference?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Create Questions
Most startup branding is focused on getting someone to associate what you do with your company name. That’s important, but that is also what every other company is doing, and frankly, the attendees usually don’t care. Use your branding to create a question in their minds (e.g., “why is there a zebra in that booth?”) to actually be memorable. Once their minds are engaged, they will remember everything.
– Brennan White, Watchtower
2. Advertise on Twitter
Depending on how big the conference is, consider bidding on the conference hashtag withTwitter Ads. That way whenever the hashtag is accessed, your brand is there. It’s cheaper than throwing a big party and comes with analytics.
– Brett Farmiloe, Internet Marketing Company
3. Live Tweet the Sessions
I am a huge fan of live tweeting conference sessions. It gets your name and your brand’s presence in front of all the attendees (and virtual attendees) as an active voice in the community and an authority on the subject, and you’re leveraging the sentiment that surrounds the conference to benefit your own brand. You will also meet a lot of people in real life that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
– Fabian Kaempfer, Chocomize
4. Force People to Notice
Be unique. Be different. At our latest tradeshow, we had girls walk around and hand out empty shot glasses and other swag. People had to come to our booth to get their shot. Once they were there, it was easy to get the conversation flowing. Our booth was a huge hit.
– Michael Patak, TopstepTrader
5. Demonstrate Your Product
Skip the PowerPoint presentation and rehearse your demo multiple times beforehand, so you have the confidence to execute it flawlessly. Intersperse the name of your brand throughout your demo to make it stick in the minds of the attendees.
– Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
6. Pick Up the Tab
I’m not about the free T-shirts or littering rooms with stickers. Connections and value happen with face-to-face conversation. Save your marketing budget and buy as many coffees, beers and lunches as possible. Schedule these meetings in advance, but also be ready for the random occurrences.
– John Meyer, Lemon.ly
7. Focus on Your Culture
Unless you’re giving away branded iPads (which has still been overplayed), swag won’t cut it at a conference. Instead, make sure your mission, culture and “why” is at the forefront. Our mascot makes the rounds at conferences. People put their guards down with mascots, so it’s easy to get your mission across and engage people in a way that isn’t possible from behind a booth.
– Sean Kelly, HUMAN (Helping Unite Mankind And Nutrition)
8. Give Real Value
Glad handing and card swapping won’t leave an impression. Design magical experiences for the people who can really make a difference and you’ll stand out. Sometimes, that magical experience is simply interaction with your product (think twitter at SXSW 2007). It may just be an engaging conversation where you show that you’ve really done your homework on that person. But you can’t beat true caring.
– Matt Hunckler, Verge
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