Like many writers, I work at home, which means I spend much of my day alone. To force myself to get out of the house and interact with living, breathing, real people, I set a goal of attending at least two conferences in the course of the year.
They’re not writing conferences, however.
They’re pre-writing conferences.
In other words, I go to conferences to do research for my books. In particular, I go to events that have to do with birding, nature, and spirituality, since those are my book topics, and I’m always looking for new ideas and the latest developments in the field.
But last month, as I promoted my second free Kindle offer on amazon.com for my Birder Murder mystery series, I realized a marketing benefit to those research conferences: the stuff I bring home – the hand-outs, the programs, the lists of attendees – are invaluable marketing tools.
You meet a lot of people at any kind of conference, but you might not get the chance to meet them all, especially if they are keynote speakers who typically are surrounded by a crush of people at the conference. If you keep the program, though, you can usually track them down again on the internet, and make contact by sending an email and thanking them for their presentation. Then, when you would like to notify them of your book release or promotion, you’ve got influential contacts in your target market. Even if you haven’t previously corresponded with them, just naming the conference in a subject line will ensure your email will be read by the recipient. Ask them to share your promotion, and you’ll reach new readers through their cooperation.
Every person who comes to a conference is a potential reader of your work. I recently went to a conference on the therapeutic effects of nature, and chatted with other attendees about my interest in nature and birds. When I mentioned I was an author, I was asked for the names of my books, so I got to do a little promoting to a market I hadn’t previously considered. At a birding event, email addresses of all the attendees are sometimes included (because birders like to email each other about bird sightings), so I have a ready-made email list for special book promotions that I think they might appreciate. Never underestimate the personal touch of addressing individuals!
Being the packrat I am, I keep all the hand-outs and advertising materials from conferences, too, thinking I might be able to set up a speaking date or promotional opportunity with one of the sponsors. For example, I never thought of wildlife photographers as a market until I met a camera rep at a birding event; now it’s a part of my target audience. As a result, I’ve found that thinking about the ways sponsors connect to conferences is a fertile field for marketing development.
What kind of conferences do you attend and what are the marketing benefits you find?