Why do IT professionals need exhibitions and conferences

    For an IT company, conferences and exhibitions are important and very interesting. These are moments of meeting face-to-face with customers and observing trends, trends and competitors. BeSmart.net Executive Director Alexander Vulfovich shares his experience of participating in such events.

    For the year of the public history of our project, we participated in four major exhibitions and conferences. We started with our own conference “EdTech Russia 2014: Monetization of online education”, which we organized and conducted. Next was the well-known “Russian Internet Forum” (RIF + CIB 2014), then “Startup of the Year”, where we did not exhibit, but simply participated as guests, and, finally, the Crocus Expo exhibition of modern educational technologies E-Learling .

    Spending and frustration on RIF + CIB

    Each participation in the conference must have a goal, and this goal must be fulfilled. In this sense, the RIF was a failure for us. At RIF, our goal was to highlight the product and attract new lecturers to our project. But we did not manage to achieve it and most likely we simply could not, because the RIF is not a conference in the usual sense of the word, but a party where people go to drink. At the same time, the cost of the stand there is more than 700 thousand rubles for a small stand (this is twice as much as at E-Learning in Crocus). We shared it with another company - Web Effect, which is engaged in SEO optimization, but it turned out still not cheap, but the result did not work out.

    Honestly, our main argument in favor of RIF was this: we need to be there because we are an IT company, and all IT companies go to RIF. But this was not true, and we did not need to go there. For us it was money thrown away. You need to go to the RIF not with an educational service, about which you need to talk a lot, but with a flagship product that is doomed to success.

    E-Learning Speaker Hunt

    The E-Learning exhibition was more successful for us. There was one clear goal: we wanted to get people who can post their lectures on Besmart.net. In some cases, it was impossible to do this without an exhibition. Take, for example, the promoted "information businessmen" - they can call, write, but you will not get an answer. And if you find yourself with them at the same exhibition, then you are already in the same submarine, from which you just can’t get out. And since a man has come, he has a dilemma: listen to the next speaker or drink coffee at Stabrax. As a rule, Starbucks wins and here we should have arrived.

    On the phone, explaining something about our product to the "information business" is quite difficult. You could say this: "It's like eBay, but about educational content." But all the same, it’s not very clear what it is. It’s hard to explain anything on the phone: an interlocutor can have employees, a wife, a mother-in-law at her side. And at the conference, the speaker leaves the hall after the speech, and you catch him hot, sit him at your stand, pour coffee, and they begin to listen to you.

    At E-Learning, we agreed with two "information businessmen" who had previously sold discs by mail, so that they would upload their lectures with us. One is Ilgiz Valinurov, he is a business coach for recruitment. The other is Alexey Galkin, founder of safe driving courses. Someone will say that such an effect from the exhibition is very small. But for us it’s a case that we can show to other “information businessmen” and not explain anything to them.

    Personal experience at EdTech Russia

    When we organized our own conference “EdTech Russia 2014: Monetization of online education”, there were two goals. First, gather the audience that we need. Competitors came, heads of educational institutions, courses, different characters who think to go online and monetize their knowledge. It was possible to make many partnership offers, which we did. For example, at this conference we agreed on a partnership with SeoPult.TV and post lectures of the heroes of the programs of this Internet resource. The second goal was to find people who would post their lectures on our website. It also happened: we painted the work of our studio two months ahead - we recorded, edited and placed lectures.

    By organizing our conference, we even got a plus, albeit symbolic by the standards of business. We counted on 150 participants, but 300 people came. Moreover, these 150 people, whose arrival was a surprise to us, registered in the last week before the event, and most of the registrations were in the last couple of days before it began. So we hurriedly had to order a double volume of dinners at the catering company and an additional room in the Digital October center, where the conference was held. In the second room, we put free participants (one participant from the company could go for free, for the rest attending the conference cost 3 thousand rubles) and arranged for them to broadcast from the first room on the big screen.

    The influx of visitors happened without any investment in advertising. The information partner of EdTech Russia 2014 was the Rusbase project (its leader Marusya Podlesnova was the moderator of the conference). Rusbase was the only media platform that spoke about the conference. We also used announcements on social networks - Facebook and Vkontakte. From there, market participants gradually learned about the conference, contacted us and expressed a desire to participate, and in response we asked them to post banners with information about EdTech Russia on their websites. Market participants are watching each other, and this was the right tactic: all the noticeable educational online services quickly learned about the event, and their top managers (Gabriel Levy from Diary.ru, Elena Masolova from Eduson and others) signed up for us the speakers.

    Oddly enough, our own experience in organizing the conference was both the very first experience and the most successful. We can only regret one thing - we did not guess to make an exhibition out of the conference and sell seats on stands. Next year we want to repeat the experience and have already opened registration for EdTech Russia 2015 .

    Conference on the rules

    We have compiled a list of several tips for those who are going to participate in conferences or hold them. There are no technical recommendations that can be found in specialized books. All tips are conceptual and based on our own experience.

    Remember the goals

    The most important advice is to visit most of the exhibitions and conferences as a guest, without renting a stand. But if participation in the exhibition will help in achieving some clear goal, then you can’t save on it. The goals can be different, depending on the exhibition: to talk about the product, about your advertising opportunities - we already wrote about this above. In any case, remember that you are not hanging out, but achieving goals. Not without reason all further tips will be about the effectiveness of the exhibition.

    Explore the topic of the conference

    Speaking at the conference - study the composition of other participants and the audience. It sounds corny, but many do not. We ourselves made such a mistake. About a year and a half ago, a forum was held at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy under the auspices of teachers, and there was not a single programmer, and we didn’t speak beautifully about the technical part of our project. Everyone looked at us with fish eyes, and then the most daring came up and asked: “But what are you doing?” They realized that we were “the smartest” and nothing more.

    CEO and speaker are not synonyms

    The speaker at the conference should not be the CEO or other top manager, but any person from the company who knows how to keep the room. Unfortunately, these two things very often do not match. A leader can be very smart and lead the company in the right direction, but the first person of the company is not necessarily a media person. For some reason, few people think about it, and as a result, 80% of speakers at conferences are simply impossible to listen to. Choose a good speaker in your company or hire a writer to the general director if he wants to speak, but the speaker from him is the same as a Chinese pilot.

    Write an informative slogan

    Participation in the exhibition is expensive, and it’s very disappointing when 100 people came to your stand, and only one understood what you want to show, and the rest passed by. Therefore, the stand needs to be designed not only aesthetically, but also informatively. In our case, it’s not enough just to write “BeSmart.net” and put the logo on. Somewhere in a conspicuous place should be summarized what the essence is - on the back of the stand or on a booklet laid out in a conspicuous place (for example, the phrase “Make money on your knowledge” is suitable for us).

    Promo girls are not needed

    At the RIF, one of the participants hired two completely naked girls who walked around the exhibition, painted in the colors of the company. At a conference on education, every second booth was decorated with girls, albeit not naked, but in miniskirts and with legs from their ears. Yes, everyone likes them, and it would be nice to look at them in an intimate atmosphere. But for many, these girls are inaccessible, like the moon, and the reaction that IT people can give out in public can be far from ordinary sympathy. Do not recruit promo-girls if you are engaged in IT-business, and if you have hired, then lengthen their skirts and certainly not let them go anywhere naked.

    At the stand like in the army

    I often encounter a situation when I ask questions at the stand, and there they say to me: "Now, wait ... an employee who knows ... one minute will get free, he will talk, he will be free, and he will tell you." This happens often, because everyone is caught up on the stand - starting with the cleaning lady, ending with the youngest managers. At the same time, ignorance about the affairs of the company is not their only puncture. Often you see that the staff on the stands is lying on poufs "in complete relaxation" instead of standing or sitting on high chairs. Do not sit on the stand of people from the outside, and if necessary, conduct a briefing.

    Do not skimp on booklets

    “Handout” should be done on as thick paper as possible, maybe even on glossy. The fact is that there is a certain reverence for expensive printing, they don’t throw it right away. In addition, a thick paper flyer is simply physically difficult to crumple and throw into an urn.

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