By Fara Young
Challenge: Newbury Networks, a Boston-based wireless Internet security provider, found a solution to reaching the right prospects at b-to-b conferences when it first exhibited at TechTarget’s Information Security Decisions conference a couple of years ago. Newbury is still capitalizing on increased sales and leads from these 2003 and 2004 events.
Large industry events run by third-party marketing companies often lack attendees with the right profiles, said Chuck Conley, VP-marketing at Newbury Networks. "That can be extremely frustrating, considering you traveled to a city and spent money," he added. After several years of hit-or-miss trade show events, Newbury decided it needed to ensure it could reach its two main goals: gaining a broad awareness for the company and reaching its ideal prospects, Conley said.
Solution: In October 2003, Newbury Networks exhibited at TechTarget’s biannual two-day Information Security Decisions Conference in New York. TechTarget is an integrated media company that hosts conferences, magazines and Web sites for IT marketers. "[TechTarget’s conferences] helped us reach Fortune 2,000 companies’ information and security buyers," Conley said.
To ensure that show exhibitors such as Newbury Networks achieve the highest ROI possible, TechTarget screens invitation-only potential conference attendees in a weekslong interview process. These conference visitors must qualify to attend—for instance, by confirming their company has a multimillion-dollar IT budget, they are VPs or directors who make security buying decisions, their company has more than 1,000 employees and plans on making a major security purchase in the next two quarters. "Our conference model is focused on 100% pure market buyers—the largest active buyers in the market at that time," said TechTarget CEO Greg Strakosch.
About 50 vendors at the Information Security Decisions conferences interact with prospective buyers during a two-and-a-half hour slot when the exhibit hall is open. While there may be only 500 to 600 people per show, they are excellent targets, said Conley. "We try to collect as many names and touch as many participants because there’s a very high-quality pool, versus a big industry show where you use a ‘spray and pray’ technique," he said. The cost of exhibiting at TechTarget’s shows usually are higher than at other industry conferences—ranging between $10,000 to $150,000, depending on what the company wants to do at the event.
"Once we get leads, we put them in the process for further follow-up, adding them to our internal list of clients," Conley said. At the most recent TechTarget conference in October, Newbury Networks built upon earlier leads it had received. That’s because only about 15% of the audience are repeat customers from the previous show, which helps generate fresh ROI, Strakosch said.
Results: Newbury Networks struck a deal worth more than $200,000 with MFS Investment Management of Boston just 90 days after the companies connected at the April 2004 conference. "On the enterprise side, it was one of the largest orders we initiated," Conley said.
"After each conference, I think we’re getting better at taking advantage of the time we’re there," Conley said. Newbury Networks optimistically looks towards the upcoming May 2005 Information Security Decisions conference in Chicago. "We will likely continue with these events and other programs with TechTarget." TechTarget claims a 90%-plus renewal rate among its exhibitors.