Besides checking out potential markets and staying abreast in your existing market, conferences are excellent marketing opportunities. The key to marketing is to be memorable and be findable. Conferences provide you with both opportunities. The idea here is to be at the conferences attended by your target market. If you attend editing conferences, your clients become other editors. This can be terrific if you’re primarily looking for referrals from other editors or have a product they’ll buy (such as training). But surrounding yourself with potential clients is the goal of this post.
Takeaways from Clients’ Conferences
It doesn’t matter if your niche is fiction writers, accountants, or medical researchers: if it exists, there’s a conference for it.
You will get a chance to meet potential clients, and connect with old clients. You will see who the influencers are, learn about the industry, trends and growth opportunities, and the variety of ways they publish (educational materials, journal articles, marketing materials, etc.). If you pay attention, you can identify the pain points that people in this niche experience during the publishing process, and that helps you figure out how you can help.
How to Afford Clients’ Conferences
Growing businesses are typically told to spend 10% of net profit on marketing. So if you consider conferences to be part of your marketing expense, make that your budget. But conferences are expensive! Especially ones for very lucrative or exclusive markets. If you want to get into an eLearning or pharmaceuticals conference, you’re looking at price tags upwards of $2000, plus meals, travel, and accommodation. For most freelancers, that’s would eat their entire marketing budget.
You can defray costs with discounts, honorariums, and write-offs.
Conferences are a write-off. Your accountant will help you determine how what portion of the fee, travel, meals, and accommodation you can write off simply as a conference (a category in many tax codes) and what can be counted as marketing. In some areas, most of the cost can be expensed.
While presenters are rarely paid, and presenters aren’t often given a conference pass, presenting gets you in the door and in front of people in a memorable and authoritative role. You’ll have the right to come early and linger over audience questions at the very least. Some conferences do pay, so start by targeting those if cost is a major barrier. Next, target conferences that offer honoraria and discounts on attendance.
Photo by Thangaraj Kumaravel, used under CC BY-2.0 license.