20 Tips to Ace Your SPI ’14 Investment

By Glenna Wiseman and Raina Russo
Originally published on #SolarChat

Solar Power International is the jumping off point for an explosive and critical 2015 for solar in the U.S.  The Vegas based event shows every sign of being one of the most attended in recent years.  Use these tips to help ace your SPI investment and experience.

These tips are provided to you by the solar marketing and social media pros, Glenna Wiseman and Raina Russo, of Identity3 and #SolarChat with contributions from @SPIConvention and @SolarBridgeTech.  Twitter handles and hashtags: @SolarChatTeam @GlennaWiseman @RainaRusso #SolarChat #SPICon

Tips for Companies

1.  Articulate Strategy for the Show.  What are the goals and objectives for attending the show?  Each of your attendance teams has specific goals in mind. Do all of the attending team members understand the goals of the other team members, helping each other to maximize time and contacts?

2. Identify Social Media Opportunities and Create Execution Plan.
  Unlike any year in the past, social media is an even bigger part of show success.  How are you using Twitter and LinkedIn, strong tools for B2B marketing, to get the word out about your firm and its offerings?

  • Create a team social media strategy.  Outline the strategy for how each attending professional will contribute to the social media program for the company as appropriate.  Leverage Twitter and LinkedIn profiles to support the company’s effort.  Provide content as needed to simplify this process.  Make sure each company executive, as applicable, uploads profile information to the SPI tool.  Arm all those participating with the hashtags including the official show #SPICon and highlighted content to create a chorus.  Share schedules with key personnel to ensure RT’s and shares are coordinated.

3.  Sponsor (instead of pay for a standalone) Networking Event.  We’re going to Vegas baby and you want to get your company name on a bright billboard. Sponsoring a super solar party is a perfect way to hop on board and let others help you shine, especially if you do not want to compete with or bear the expense of a standalone event. It is also a strong strategy for customer retention and rewards.  Celebrate your solar company and customer teams by participating in the Solar Teams Rock Mirage Hotel event by #SolarChat.

4.  Pro-tip for standing out at #SPICon from @SPIConvention: Use Twitter Lists! With hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees all talking about the upcoming show: use the exhibitor twitter list to connect with companies before, during and after the show. Insider tip: Stay tuned for the SPI Mobile app, which will be available late-September. Source:  Solar Power International, @SPIConvention.

5. Leverage Your Profile. If you are exhibiting, build out your online profile as early as possible and keep updating it.  Make sure it lists the applicable social media sites for your firm.

6.  Maximize Your Lead Generation.  Critical to a strong ROI on your SPI investment is lead generation.   Think through how leads will be collected during the show and make sure the process is well understood by the team.

7.  Create After Show Customer and Prospect Follow Up Before Vegas.  Outline the process and plan for your after show follow up before you get to Vegas.  Make sure your sales team understands and has given input on the plan.

8.  What Metrics Matter?  What are the ROI metrics you are measuring for success?  Clearly outlining these key performance indicators (KPI’s) will help you understand how the show serves your overall business objectives and what measures are needed to ensure success.  Of course you will need to have a clear accounting of your budget against which to match your results.

9.  Conduct a Post Show Survey.  Poll team members after the show and ask for feedback on every area of your company’s participation. This will give you the data critical to ensuring continued improvement and higher show ROI.

Tips for Attendees

10.  Stand out in the Crowd!   Don’t be a fly on the wall. If you’re going to show up then SHOW UP. Remember you are one in a sea of 15,000 anticipated solar people roaming the show so look for ways to rise above the fray.

11.  Tweet using the Show Hashtag.  Tweet interesting tidbits from your show experience using the appropriate hashtag #SPICon. If you have enough interesting things to say other people will pick up on them and start following you.

12.  Participate in Sessions.

  • Attend concurrent sessions in your interest area and ask questions. State your name loud and clear and speak up.
  • Attend the general sessions. These are a great way to get you in the mood and pump you up for the week. Look around you when you sit down and seek out your friends.
  • Attend Quick Talks – 25-minute sessions that pack a powerful punch with quick content on timely topics from recognized industry experts. Don’t over estimate your solar knowledge, while face to face meetings are critical for your business growth so is knowledge.

13.  Leverage Networking Events.  Maximize your time outside the show too.  It’s tempting to go to your hotel and collapse after a long day at SPI, but the networking opportunities for private dinners, parties like the SolarChat Unplugged event and other star-studded events should not be missed in Vegas. Source:  SolarBridge Technologies, @SolarBridgeTech.

14.  Bring Business Cards with Performance Power.  Have a business card handy (don’t go reaching deep into the 10 bags you’re carrying). Speaking of business cards – make sure that your card is clear. Think about how many cards you bring home from every show and consider the fact that the person taking your card isn’t always that organized to add comments to the card. So make sure your card is memorable and doesn’t require additional notes.

15.  Take Advantage of the SPI App and Planning Tools.  Follow the interactive exhibitor map to get to your destination without losing time or adding extra steps (even if you are athletic, navigating the show floor for 3 full days will take a toll on your feet). Add your profile with appropriate tags and interest so others can locate you.

  • Highlight the events and sessions that interest you using the SPI tools. This will easily call attention any conflicts in your schedule and help you navigate the nearly 200 sessions, including Concurrent, QuickTalks, Master Speakers, Show Floor Education, and Posters. Have this plan scheduled way in advance of the show. No time to make these decisions in real time.

16.    Get Your Schedule Done in Advance!  Create a clear schedule including time, location and people you plan on meeting. Make sure it’s reasonable, don’t be late for meetings and don’t show up out of breath.

17.    Maximize The Bistro!  Plan brief meetings at the Bistro Networking Lunch (open to Full Conference Attendees). This is new to the show and is a great idea. Take advantage that most people you want to meet will be going to this which makes it a very convenient place to meet. Speaking of lunch – don’t forget to eat. Your brain will be operating a million times the normal speed and needs fuel.

18.    Arm Yourself with Knowledge!  Attend the How to Power Your SPI Experience: The First-Time Attendee Roadmap on Monday afternoon. – This session is specifically designed to help you maximize your SPI experience. It is also a great place to begin networking with your peers, one of the most important aspects of the conference. Whatever questions you have, bring them to this session and you’ll be sure to get the right answers!

19.    Don’t Bypass Solar Central. Solar Central is the epicenter of show and industry related news. If you missed a concurrent session chances are the panel will come to Solar Central for an abbreviated version in an interview session. It’s also a great place to catch a presenter and exchange a few words/ business cards.

20.    Build in Your Follow Up Strategy.  Make sure you have figured out how you will follow up with new contacts and business opportunities before you go to Vegas.  This will ensure you have everything you need to execute the plan after the show.

Get more tips from our 2013 SPI post, “Maximize Your ROI at Solar Power International ’13.

Contact by email:  GWiseman@Identity3.com or Raina.Russo@SolarChat.org