- This year’s Inspire conference is entirely virtual
- We share the best Microsoft Inspire 2020 preparation tips
Around this time every year, we share our tips for attending Microsoft Inspire. Usually, our advice is based on attending the conference in person. Whether it’s making new business connections, socialising, or absorbing the sights and sounds of Las Vegas, taking part can be a pretty amazing experience. However, the current pandemic has changed our summer plans. As a result, Microsoft Inspire 2020 is going to be a virtual conference.
While this presents challenges, thanks to the cloud and today’s communication software, we’ve all got the means to make Inspire 2020 just as successful as any other year.
In this blog, we’re going to give you some advice about taking your networking remote.
7 Microsoft Inspire 2020 preparation tips
We’ve been to Inspire five years in a row, and those experiences have taught us some valuable lessons on what to expect and how to prepare. Here are our top 7 Microsoft Inspire 2020 preparation tips, adapted for a virtual experience:
1. Plan for new connections
Inspire is an ideal time to make new connections, but it requires preparation if you’re wish to make the right ones. It’s useful to take a good look at the attendee demographic of past shows. Microsoft provide detailed data on the subject, including:
- Attendee figures
- Sector and industry breakdown
- Job role breakdown
- Areas of interest breakdown
As a digital marketing agency whose client base includes Microsoft partners, everyone at Inspire has the potential to be a customer, lead, or useful connection for us. But even so, it’s important that we take time to study exactly who will be attending. Doing your research ahead of the event pays huge dividends. Just because you’re not in the room, this year, doesn’t mean you can’t make a valuable new connection – online networking events will be taking place across the week this year so it’s important to create a list of businesses and people you’d like to speak to and seek them out.
2. Flaunt your assets
Every year, we produce an annual review celebrating the marketing efforts of Microsoft partners: The Fifty Five and Five Digital Marketing Excellence Report. Usually we launch each new edition from our stand at the conference, giving away hard copies to attendees.
This year instead of handing out physical reports we will release a fully digitally version instead. While we can’t create the same kind of face-to-face interactions at the event, we’ll be making sure to reach out to all our friends in the Microsoft partner world with access to our content – and, of course, congratulating those who ranked in our report. This is an exciting evolution to the “Microsoft Top 50”, and we are very excited to share it!
Whilst it is always worth taking a proactive role in your value adding activities, it’s particularly important now. Try to stand out in your leads’ memories by going the extra mile – perhaps consider sending a free “how-to” guide or invite them to a specialist session that they simply can’t refuse.
3. Who do you want to talk to?
Despite not attending Inspire in person this year, you should still have a client ‘target list’ with information such as:
- People that you really want to connect with
- Companies that you also want to connect with.
- Exhibiting companies you want to check in with.
- Past or existing clients that are attending virtually that you should say hello to.
- Relevant Microsoft employees that you want to virtually meet at the show.
This list will help you to prioritise your time and make meaningful, valuable connections.
4. Make the workshops work for you
Every year Inspire hosts hundreds of workshops from some of the industry’s leading organisations and figures. We’re expecting that this year will be no different, except that these workshops will be hosted online.
It’s important to maximise your ROI for your tickets, so create a list of the workshops you want to attend. Assign your team to different workshops and ask them to create summaries that you can share throughout your business. This can also be leveraged as content for during and after Inspire, why not turn your experiences and the advice you receive into blogs? There’s more onus on making sure you network and communicate – albeit virtually – this year, so don’t be afraid to share content that’ll get your business noticed.
5. Follow up with leads
When following up with your leads and new contacts from the conference, be sure to keep track of the following:
- Who was contacted?
- When were they contacted?
- Who in your business should contact them?
- When should you follow up again?
You can use a good CRM system to automate this process. But a simple spreadsheet can sometimes be just as effective. We recommend that you take notes when talking to leads during the event so that you can remind them of the conversation when you follow up later.
6. Get social
To make the most of attending Microsoft Inspire, we invest time in writing blogs and sharing collateral from the show. We stay very active on Twitter during and after the conference and share videos and pictures during the week. Maintaining a vocal online presence will be crucial this year – show the leads you want, who you are!
7. Calculate your ROI
Ultimately, any company attending Inspire is doing so to grow their business. Understanding your ROI from the conference requires revisiting your experience of the event soon after its conclusion.
One of the obvious KPIs is to look at the work you have won since returning. It’s very likely you need to take a long-term view that incorporates the length of your typical sales cycle or longer, as leads from a trade show will typically take longer to result in billable work or sales. Understanding how many leads you get from Inspire and what becomes of those leads is important for understanding the value of the event and if you should change your strategy when attending next year.
Making the most of the circumstances
Everything feels up in the air for a lot of businesses and their people right now. But one thing we can rely on is that we will all find ways to connect with each other, whether it’s for business or pleasure. We think of Inspire 2020 as an opportunity to generate new leads and make new connections, and also as a chance to feel solidarity with other businesses. And we can’t wait to hear about the great things that come out of Inspire 2020.