If you’re in the direct response industry, September’s D2C conference is the one place the entire industry comes together, and it is likely your most important conference of the year. People come to Las Vegas to meet and do business. Whether you’ve attended D2C for years or this is your first time at the show, it is critical to make the most of those days in Las Vegas. These quick tips will help you get the most bang for your buck:
1. Plan ahead.
When the entire industry is at your fingertips, you don’t want to waste a second. Spend time before the conference doing your groundwork. Review the agenda and exhibitor list to identify people and companies you would like to meet during the show and schedule meetings in advance. Do the same with your clients, vendors, and others in your network. Nothing is better for a business relationship than face-to-face meetings.
Pro Tip: If you’re an ERA member, the Member Directory section of ERA’s online Resource Center is an invaluable tool for finding contact information for companies across the industry. If you’re a sponsor or exhibitor, you also receive access to a pre-show attendee list to help you identify prospects.
2. Use your network’s network.
The D2C industry thrives on referrals. As you reach out to your clients, vendors, and other contacts about meetings at the D2C show, don’t be shy about asking them whether they know someone you would like to meet. It is also a great idea to ask whether there is anyone your contacts think that you should meet with in Las Vegas. Odds are your contact will be able to facilitate a connection with one of your targets or introduce you to a valuable contact you didn’t even know existed. And warm introductions are always much more pleasant than cold calls.
3. Make a schedule.
As you line up your contacts, don’t leave your plans at “let’s meet up in Vegas.” Despite everyone’s best intentions, the meeting likely will not happen. There is just too much going on, and everyone is trying to do as much as he or she possibly can. Instead, schedule a time and a place for a meeting. The Meet & Greet Lounge, a tradeshow booth, and the hallway outside the exhibit hall are all popular places to meet. Don’t forget about meals, either. You’ll see plenty of other attendees taking breakfast, lunch, and dinner meetings all week long.
Pro Tip: When you set a meeting, don’t forget to exchange mobile numbers because meetings run late and conflicts crop up. You’ll have to reschedule at least one meeting on the fly. If your company is bringing more than one person to D2C, create a master schedule so that you always know where your colleagues are supposed to be, as well as with whom they are meeting.
4. Make some news.
If you have a new product or service launching, there is no better time to announce it than during the D2C Convention. The critical mass of industry leaders and trade press makes it the best time of the year to make a big announcement and get everyone talking about you.
Pro Tip: We’re a social industry, so be social! Don’t be content to send out a press release or meet with a reporter. Share your news, as well as fun photos from the events on Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms. Be sure to use the hashtag #D2C16 and also tag the people with you. Many people at the conference will see your notifications.
5. Don’t forget the parties.
At D2C, as much—or more—business is done after-hours as in the hallways, meeting rooms, and the exhibit hall. We love to drink and talk and we’re always receptive to meeting new people. If this is your first D2C Convention, hit every party you can, and meet all the new people you can. You probably won’t close any deals during a party, but you’re guaranteed to leave with more leads and a much larger network than when you arrived.
Pro Tip: If you don’t know where the parties are, ask around. With very few exceptions, you’ll be able to get in the door as long as you have an All Access Pass, a business card, and are accompanying someone who has RSVPed.
I hope these pointers are helpful as you prepare for September. For me, some of them were intuitive. Others took a few years to figure out. It seems like just yesterday that I arrived in Las Vegas knowing no one at the conference except my coworkers, now I’m scheduling meetings for my sixth D2C Convention.
If you’d like to meet in Vegas, or if I can do anything else to be of service, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Chuck Wilkins is the Advertising Practice Group Manager at Venable LLP. He can be reached at (202) 344-8253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.