As we got ready to make our presence felt at the 2015 Nebraska Agri-Eco Tourism Conference in Kearney earlier this week, we had some very important tasks to tackle.

We wanted to introduce ourselves to the people who attended the conference. So, we sent out coasters to everyone on the attendee list saying we’ll be around, and to stop by for some beer or coffee. I know you might be thinking, ‘Beer? At a conference?’

Yep.

What’s the best way to make sure people remember us? Give them beer. Our coffee is hands-down better than convention coffee, too.

In addition to the regular conference schedule, Maly Marketing was part of the Taste Nebraska event at the conference on Tuesday. There was a handful of vendors representing their own breweries, wineries and distilleries, as well as other local vendors. We were there with a couple of coolers full of Nebraska beer. Our boss gave us the company card (God help him), so we could pick out a random assortment of delicious Nebraska-brewed beer.

Who said this has to be a serious business?

This isn’t something new for us. It’s our MO for conferences and trade shows. It sets us apart. Plus, we get to be a champion for locally brewed beer. I couldn’t think of anything better.

So what’s the point of all this? Why am I telling you this? No, it’s not to brag. It’s to tell you that when you sign up for a trade show or a conference, it’s important to reach out to the attendees ahead of time. Usually, when you are a vendor at one of these things, you have access to the attendee list. Take advantage of it.

Introduce your business to them and give them a reason to stop by your booth. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy or expensive, but you still want to make an impact. Plus, it shows that you’re paying attention. Then, when they come by your booth, they might say, ‘Hey, thanks for the postcard.’ Or something.

After the conference, you have a basis for following up. ‘Hey, thanks for stopping by our booth…’ Or something clever like that.

Conferences are a good way to get your name out there and get your business recognized. But you have to make sure you’re doing work ahead of time and after the fact, so the people you come in contact with have a reason to remember you. That helps reassure that you’re getting your money’s worth for the time you spend outside of the office.

In a nutshell: introduce yourself to attendees, have fun, drink a beer, then follow up with the attendees afterward. You could probably drink another beer after that, too.