One of the biggest unknowns for me running a conference is how to best do marketing for the event. In addition to having an awesome buddy on the ground in the host city pounding the pavement for me (shout out to Gary), I had to come up with some other marketing initiatives to get the word out.
One of these was to go through the established user group community. We handed out cards, gave away some free registrations, and the fruit of that will hopefully be seen before the first early bird price date passes.
I also tried another angle: the cold-call email blast. I used canpages.com to look up software development and computer consulting organizations in the cities I wanted to target. After compiling a list of email addresses for them, I put together a nice marketing-type email and sent it off through the interwebs to 42 companies in 5 different cities. Doing this type of marketing for anything is a lot like fishing: you cast out your line, not knowing whether you’ll get anything nibbling on your bait. But yesterday I got a bite!
A company that was part of my email recipient list registered four of their employees for the conference! Now, you might think “Wow, 1 company out of 42…is that really success?” Well, yes! That’s four more registrations that I might not have gotten otherwise. Email campaigns are an important tool, but its one that expectations need to be managed for. Its like doing telemarketing outcalls: out of all the calls you make, only a small number will actually buy what you’re selling. Doing a cold-call email campaign can have the same sort of effect.
But for me, I’m very pleased that people are reading the emails, checking out the conference site, and even registering! It’s a tactic that shouldn’t be overlooked.