Generating leads from events and conferences

Events; a solid staple in every leading marketeer’s diary. From one day-er’s at the Excel looking at the future of AI, to week long blow outs in the south of France discussing the future of the creative landscape.
However, other than schmoozing, boozing and learning over a good old tepid glass of rose, how can you use events and conferences for lead generation?

Easily. Whether your focus is on converting your existing new business pipeline or you’re hoping to get some new contacts into your sales funnel, we have the tips on how to use events and conferences for lead generation– even if you don’t actually attend the event yourself!

But before we crack on, there are some points to consider:

Does the shoe fit?

It’s important you select the right events to speak at and attend.

  • Is it a reputable event? Has it been running for many years or is it backed by a notable events board or publication, (The Drum, Transform etc.).
  • What’s the ratio of agency leaders to brand marketeer’s speaking and attending the event? Do their job titles fit within your key client profiles?
  • How big is the event? Be mindful of the glitz and the glam of the global events such as Cannes, South by South West and Mobile World Congress. They’re famous because they are great and will undoubtedly attract some of the hottest brands and the hottest talents in the business. However these events can be tricky to manoeuvre. There’s a lot going on, and because they’re spread out over a series of days, not everyone will be there for the full period.

Whilst we can’t tell you which events will work best for you, we have helped narrow down the playing field. Check out our annual events calendar for a round-up of the key events covering all areas of the marketing landscape and a variety of notable industries.

Now onto the good stuff. There are three ways you can use events to feed into your agency lead generation strategy.

  1. Attending
  2. Speaking
  3. Researching from afar

1. Attending

Great, you’ve registered to attend an event, the money has left your business account and you’re excited to learn more about said industry or specialism. But there’s still more to be gained.


We’ve all heard that the early bird catches the worm (and often in the case of events, early bird means cheaper tickets) but when it comes to using it for lead generation, the early bird really does catch the worm.

You don’t have to wait until the event to start networking. Events will often post their speakers list and agenda months in advance as a means to entice and secure more attendees. Use this to your advantage. Research the key talks and those who are leading them. Then simply drop them a call or an email in the run up to the event and suggest introducing yourself and grabbing a coffee after their talk.

When arranging to meet people, make sure you agree on a concrete time and a place – preferably pick somewhere outside of the venue to meet. Not only will the vibe be calmer, but it helps establish a proper time set aside to both meet and talk.

If you just can’t wait until the event to potentially meet, then feel free to get in touch early and propose a meet up before the event date. Reference their published talk topic and that given this is an area of interest, you’d like to discuss your insight ahead of time. You can almost make a joke out of how organised and keen you are!

One word of caution – speakers can change last minute so don’t be alarmed if your dream contact is no longer down to talk. This, in itself, is its own unique reason to get in touch with said person. Mention you’re attending the event (or attended) and was excited to hear their potential talk on said topic as you’ve helped solve or have experience solving similar issues. Would they be open to chatting on a more convenient date as you’re still interested in hearing their points and sharing your knowledge and insight.


Coffees booked in and confirmed. Key talks noted and timings logged. Fab! There’s not much left to do lead generation wise so sit back, relax and spark up a conversation with the person sitting next to you.


You came, you saw, you conquered. Whether it was spent listening to interesting talks or grabbing coffee with new contacts, the event has been and gone. But it’s not over until it’s over.

You can drop a line to speakers who you didn’t get the opportunity to introduce yourself to. Congratulate them on the talk they gave, mention points you personally found interesting or useful, and if you’re hoping to open up a new business conversation, highlight your agency’s relevance to the topic.

Likewise, if it was an industry specific event and you found yourself noting a trend in the sector that could lead to further interesting conversations, reach out to brands in the sector who might not have been there. Offer to share the insight you’ve gained from the event.

2. Speaking at an event or conference

You’re speaking at an event, congratulations! This is a big and exciting moment, but over and above the fame and nerves, a few actions can help you to reap measurable returns from your time on stage.

If you’d like to use the event to build your pipeline with fresh contacts, then check out your fellow speakers ahead of time and get in touch suggesting an introductory chat after your talks. Build on the fact that you’re both speaking at the event and focus on any commonalities in your talks – from challenges to achievements or areas of future focus.

If your agency has a pipeline of contacts that your marketing and new business teams are trying to keep front-of-mind with, then your event talk is a great excuse to reach back out to them. Let them know you’re talking at the event and either invite them along as your guest, or, if they’re already planning on attending suggest a catch-up coffee whilst you’re both there.

We suggest getting in touch about 3-4 weeks ahead of the event. Anything less than two weeks won’t lead to the best results. Attendees will have booked up their time with key talks and other meetings.

Following the event, as a speaker you may be given access to the registered attendee list. You can use this to propose delivering a more bespoke version of your talk to the wider team of the contacts in attendance.

3. You didn’t even go to the event or conference?

Have you ever come across the agenda and speaking list for an event that fits perfectly with your business development strategy, but it’s already happened and the next one isn’t expected for another 11 months? Yeah, same.

Fear not! There’s an art to utilising events you never even attended.

Reasons for not being able to attend:

  • Urgent client requirement
  • Pre-booked holiday
  • Pitch for a prospective client
  • In another country

The list for not being there can be endless (and, if you play your cards right, can help showcase what an incredibly busy, in demand agency you are).

When reaching out to one of the event speakers, briefly mention your reason for not making the event and state you wished you’d been able to attend as you wanted to see x persons talk about x challenge or x area of interest. Then weave in who you are, your relevant experience and how you don’t want to let a potential opportunity to chat pass you by because of diary conflicts.

Sometimes you needn’t even be there to reap the rewards. Magic!

"Drop them an email in the run up to the event and suggest a coffee after their talk."


Using events for lead generation is an overlooked and neglected asset. If you’re attending an event, it’s a great time to be proactive and reach out to prospects you’d love to meet. If you’re speaking at the event, it’s a valuable opportunity to meet your fellow speakers and a solid reason to touch base with your existing pipeline and reignite lapsed conversations.

And, never forget, if you can’t attend the event, they’re still useful assets to understand what people in the industry are thinking, saying and achieving, offering you greater insights to use when reaching out to new people.

For a fairly comprehensive list of the events and conferences that you might like to consider attending, speaking at or combing for prospects and insights, our events calendar 2019 is here.

And if you’re putting on your own event as part of your agency marketing, take a look at our guide here to maximising the potential business development returns.

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