Engaging Conference Attendees From Start To Finish (and even after): An ImageThink Guide To Success 

August 16, 2016

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Conferences can be physically and mentally daunting. It takes careful planning and creativity to make your content or your booth visible amid a sea of banners, merchandise tables, food stands, and cosplayers. Sometimes you need something more than a branded cell phone charger.

So how do you stand out in a crowd and get your message across?

Clients trust us to spark engagement, interest, and excitement at large-scale events.  Read below to learn more about how we’ve engaged attendees from Austin, to San Francisco, to London, and beyond.  

imagethink graphic recorder yao xiao completes a title at the top of a board at SXSWi while attendees photograph the content that was created during the session.

1) Get The Hype Train Rolling

You know your event starts long before you hit the stage or the trade show floor. We are experts at generating excitement by laying the groundwork for compelling interactive sessions. Engaging attendees before your event starts builds anticipation and kicks off a dialogue that you can continue with attendees on social media.  But how do you start the conversation before the conference even opens?

Social media is an obvious place to start. Studies show that we’re more likely to remember and share content with visuals. Years of visualizing marketing and technology thought leaders has positioned us to create unique ways our clients can get the conversation rolling on social media. Our tweet-sized infographics with session titles, speaker names, and booth locations are all great ways to get attendees engaged before they even pick up their trade show or conference badge.

Take SAP for example. SAP turned to ImageThink to help them promote their programming, and build anticipation and buzz and for its last two SAPPHIRE NOW conferences.  The images kicked off a conversation on social media that carried throughout and even after the event.  

SAP tweeted ImageThink's illustrated twitter-bites to promote sessions before their SAPPHIRE NOW conference two years in a row.

SAP tweeted ImageThink’s illustrated “twitter-bites” to promote sessions before their SAPPHIRE NOW conference two years in a row.

Time lapse promos are another great way to get on conference attendees’ must-see list.  For attendees who have never seen a graphic recorder at work before, time lapse promos offer a fresh new hook and stand-out from ordinary email announcements.  

conference attendees walk around imagethink's graphic recording tower display at the 2015 sxsw conference in austin texas

2) It’s Go Time: The Big Day

Now that you’ve primed your conference audience, finding ways to captivate and wow them is the next big challenge. Whether you are sponsoring the entire conference or just one booth at a trade show, it is still crucial to create an engaging and interactive environment. Attracting attendees to your space and making a real connection with them makes all the difference between a successful and a lackluster conference campaign.

 ImageThink's mural sized infographic was drawn for Amex's trade show booth at the 2016 Global Business Travel Association conference in Denver, CO. It outlines business traveler needs, and was illustrated live to attract and engage conference attendees.

ImageThink created this mural-sized infographic live at Amex’s booth at the 2016 GBTA conference in Denver, CO.

The American Express Global Business Traveler team had the same challenge as they reviewed trade show booth designs for 2016 GBTA conference in Denver, CO. Recognizing the magnetic pull of live illustration, AMEX turned to ImageThink to create an evolving mural sized infographic that reflected the needs of business travelers. Attendees would stop and watch the live mural unfold.  It was incredible to see the number of people who engaged. Even better to hear the great conversations it sparked between AMEX and their prospective clients.  

ImageThink graphic recorder James Lake illustrates people's big ideas at Book Passage in San Francisco during a live social listening event in 2016, and brought ideas to life.

3) Turn Coffee Breaks and Cocktail Hours into Moments of Engagement

Social listening boards go a step further, inviting attendees to answer a question or share a thought, and watch the graphic recorder illustrate it in real time. They are a great way to start a dialogue and gather useful customer data all at once.  

In recent years at Tech Crunch, UPS invited attendees to make business pitches for ImageThink to illustrate, and shipped them the boards after the conference ended. Not only did UPS gain valuable face to face time with influencers of some incredible companies, but they also left them with a unique and useful gift that serves as a reminder of UPS’s commitment to great service.

An astronaut holds an ImageThink pitch board created on site for attendees at the tech crunch event held in san francisco. The board illustrates SpaceVR business ideas.

UPS gifted this astronaut was an illustrated business pitch at a Tech Crunch conference.

4) Get Creative to Keep The Conversation Going

You could have the most robust, interactive, engaging session of the conference. The activities at your booth could be the talk of the town. But if attendees don’t take something away at the end of it all, then all of your hard work stays on the convention floor. How do you take the relationship beyond the conference closing party?

Having ImageThink at your event doesn’t simply enhance the experience of being there—it creates content that can be shared afterwards. This means you have tons of creative follow up ideas and dozens of touch points for developing and deepening relationships. At SXSWi, Ogilvy’s 60,000 limited edition prints of our work ran out as lines snaked the conference floors to collect them.  We’ve seen our clients include our work in everything from company newsletters, to social media posts, to prints on keepsakes like mugs, thank you cards, and posters.

Want to learn more about how ImageThink can ignite engagement at your next event? Take a look at our full list of services here.


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