Thinking of attending the Affiliate Summit East in Philadelphia this summer? Whether you’re just starting out in affiliate marketing or you’ve had your own program for years, it’s certainly worth attending the industry’s leading affiliate marketing conference.
Taking place over a 3-day period, the time will actually fly by faster than you realize. If you don’t plan accordingly or keep your head in the game, you could end up heading home with nothing but a bunch of flyers in your bag and a slew of unanswered questions.
Every Affiliate Summit has been bigger than the previous year’s, meaning more competition, more people to network with and a ton of new data to download to your head. Want to make the absolute most of your conference? Then plan ahead as much as you can. For starters, digest this Affiliate Summit East 2013 Survival Guide. Who knows, it may just save your life!
Create a Mission Statement
You don’t need anything super formal, but make sure you know why you’re attending Affiliate Summit. Is it to get more affiliates to sign up for your program? To attend the sessions and learn the latest tips, trends and happenings in the industry? Is it to just get your name out there more and build up your branding? Is it to meet some of your top affiliates face to face and strengthen your working relationship?
Chances are, you’re there for more than one of the reasons listed above. And that’s fine. Affiliate Marketing is nothing if not the textbook definition of multitasking. By knowing why you’re attending, you can plan things out in a much better way to maximize your time.
Check the Guest List
The #1 reason people attend an affiliate marketing conference is to network. Making the right connections (whether you’re an affiliate manager or publisher) is crucial to a successful business.
Take a good look at the full list of attendees (scroll down the page a bit) and start making a list of who you’d like to meet up with. It could be competitors you have an interesting partnership idea to run by them or potential cobrands you’d like to start. The show is also filled with affiliates looking for new tools and programs to sign up with. So see if any that fit your demographics are attending.
Once you’ve gone through your list (and checked it twice), send out some initial emails. Find out exactly who from each company is attending ASE. Ask them if they’d like to meetup to discuss working with you. Try to set up specific dates and times, or at the very least get their cell phone number so you can contact them during the conference.
ASE can get incredibly crowded, so don’t just think you’ll happen to bump into someone. The more pre-planning you do, the better your experience will be overall.
Wondering what to wear? The simple answer is, “Whatever you want.” You’ll see just about everything in terms of dress from shorts and a T-shirt to a full-on suit and tie for the gents and ankle-length dresses for the ladies. And everything in between. That goes for exhibitors, speakers and attendees. You should honestly wear whatever you feel most comfortable in. If it’s business casual, go for it. Just remember that you’ll be representing your company, so be sure to project whatever image you’d like to get out there.
Comfortable shoes are a must, though! You’ll be walking around all day, or at the very least standing on your feet all day. Make sure you’ve got a real comfy pair of shoes that can keep you going through the end of the show.
Bring a number of additional outfits for after hours too. There are a bunch of key networking parties that are definitely worth attending. Again, wear what you feel comfortable in as you’ll see a mix of everything at these events.
Besides clothing and toiletries, the one thing you definitely don’t want to forget? Business cards! Bring plenty, as thousands of people will be in attendance.
Perfect Your Elevator Pitch
Quick, can you describe your company in a few quick sentences? The “elevator pitch” (dubbed so because it should be a quick description of your company that you can get across in the short time you may be pitching ideas in an elevator ride) will be your best friend.
If you don’t have a good pitch, make one. Write out the key points of your company and program. Pull out the three most important facts and combine them into one succinct and exciting pitch. Don’t be afraid to change or adjust your pitch over the course of the show either. If you notice way more interest in a topic you weren’t even bothering to mention, switch things around to make that the focus.
Be flexible, but no matter what, be confident in your company and how it can work with someone that you’re trying to get into your program.
Sure there’s plenty of free food and drinks at many of the after parties, but that shouldn’t be your reason for attending. Well, not your main reason, anyways. Take the time to meet as many new people as you can, as well as put some face time in with your top affiliates.
You can email and call an affiliate 20 times a day, but that one night you spend in person with them at a company party will carry much more weight. It’s tough to top personal interaction, so take advantage. Just make sure you’re not dancing on any tables with a lampshade on your head. That may end up sending the wrong message.
Schedule Your Sessions
Besides meeting with people and simply walking the exhibit floor (where you can gather tons of information and do some of the best networking), there are a number of industry-related sessions running concurrently the entire duration of the show.
A full list of speakers and sessions is available well in advance on the Affiliate Summit site. Read through it carefully and mark off the sessions you’d like to attend. Add them to your calendar, along with any meetings you’re setting up. There are sessions covering every aspect of affiliate marketing from both sides of the industry fence, so you’re sure to find a few that could be quite beneficial to you.
Just like most things in life, the more you plan, the better chance you have for a good outcome. figure out why you want to attend, who you want to meet with, what sessions you want to hit, as well as what parties are on your list.
Here’s a quick bulleted list of key points to remember for Affiliate Summit:
- Book a room at the conference hotel. You won’t get a bigger chance for networking than bumping into attendees in the lobby, elevators, at breakfast, etc.
- Pack mints, water and hand sanitizer. Your mouth will get dry from a full day of talking. And the last thing you want is to have people remember you as that ‘guy with awful egg breath.”
- Pick an obvious meeting place in advance. Even if you have a day and time setup to meet someone, it can be tough to find a place to meet up. Suggest meeting by the registration area initially, as everyone will have to know where that is, if they’re in the show.
- Don’t be shy. Everyone’s at the conference for the very same purpose: to network. Walk up to them and introduce yourself.
The best way to learn how to make the most of your time at Affiliate Summit is to just go. Follow the advice in this guide and keep up with the Affiliate Summit Blog. Once you’ve come back from the summit, make a list of things you wish you had done. That way you’ll be better prepared for next year.