March 23

5 TipsTo Do Well At A Conference (Beyond School Hours 2023 Recap)

Blog, Cooking Classes, Featured

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LIFT Enrichment showed up ready to go at the Beyond School Hours Conference in 2023.  It’s an after-school-themed conference on the East Coast, and it’s a great opportunity for us to meet directors and coordinators of after-school and summer programs around the US.  

Ever since our pivot to exclusively serving Title-1 Schools (5 Reasons Why We Are Working with Grant-Based (and not Parent-Paid) Clients This Fall), we created a virtual-live healthy culinary workshop we can teach at schools across the U.S.  We ship clients the culinary kit and fresh ingredients for each lesson and our Chef Teachers join live on zoom to guide a group of students and 1-2 adults through each recipe.  It’s like “Hello Fresh” but we help you every step of the way as you cook.

Promoting Virtual-live was a HIT!  Our goal was to book 30 meetings with prospects from the conference and we booked over 60! 

Each conference is an opportunity to fine-tune our marketing and sales strategy.  Here are some new things we tried that worked
 

  1. I Brought Chef Teachers to Help Set Meetings

This was an experiment, and it proved successful.  I brought in two Chef Teachers that had no sales background to see if they could learn a simple script and help close prospects who walked by our booth.  Overall, we did well!  

In the future, I need to do more training with my staff, but with very minimal prep my team and I were able to close leads with meetings on the calendar because of this tip.

  2. Using Ipads and Calendly, we were able to set meetings on the spot

At most conferences, exhibitors hang out behind their booth and wait for attendees to come by.  If they like the marketing or message, the exhibitor will ask to get the attendee’s contact information to setup a meeting in the future.

I’ve been to dozens of conferences and have tried

  • Using a QR code scanner:  This allows me to get an attendee’s contact info with a simple scan of their name tag.
  • Writing down their contact info:  This old-school method works, but if you mess up one digit on their phone number or one letter in their email, you can’t contact the lead
  • Getting business cards:  I’ve found these get lost and are hard to organize.  Plus people who are director-level rarely have business cards on them.  (Why would you when everyone is trying to get your attention and sell you something?)
  • Using a laptop:  It’s better because you have a full type pad, but you have to bring the attendee to your table, then they have to bend over and type all of their details.

After trial and error, we found that the preferred tool was an iPad.

We’d have calendly.com, a scheduling software, up and ready so once the prospect was interested we’d ask to setup a quick meeting in the next week or two.

It wasn’t tricky for us to type their info, because we could use their name tag to help make sure the spelling was right.  The prospect didn’t have to do anything except check their calendar, and they’d get an email with the details and could change/reschedule the appointment at will.

Using this method, we got 60 meetings on the calendar!   About ⅓ of those meetings happened within two weeks.  (Like going on a first date…the flake rate can be high!)   But we still follow-up with those who didn’t respond over a 90 day time frame to find a better day/time.

3. The One-Sentence Attention Grabber

In the exhibit hall at most education conferences, I saw a lot of exhibitors just sitting at their booths. They’d sit BEHIND their tables (which isn’t friendly or approachable) and when an attendee walked by they MIGHT stand up.  

In my opinion, if one person is sitting and the other person is standing, it doesn’t set the tone of two equals engaging in conversation.  One is resting and relaxed, and the other is standing and exerting some effort.  Instead, you gotta both stand…especially since we (the exhibitors) are trying to sell something to help the attendees.

For me, I had my team out on the front lines, pushed the table back and used two key things to grab attention

Number 1:  SMILE.  You gotta be friendly and approachable!  No one wants to talk to someone with a stern face.

Number 2:  “Hello!”  Your greeting has to be kinda loud, because in a noisy conference hall, it’s difficult to get someone’s attention.  

I remember one exhibitor right next to my booth called me a “Carnival Barker” which was a definite quasi-insult.  I looked her in the eye and said with a grin, “Maybe, but it works!  We’ve got 40+ meetings on the calendar.”  How many people booked a meeting with her?  I didn’t see many.

The next part is your one-liner.  I liked to say “Would you like to bring healthy cooking classes to your students?”  

(That’s a hard line to say “No!” too.)

And then we upgraded it with “Would you like to use your (insert funding) to bring healthy cooking classes to your students?”    We could say “ELOP”  or “ASES” or “21st Century” depending on which funded grant the majority of the attendees had access to. (The 3 Most Popular Grants That fund Healthy After-School Culinary Workshops For Students)

  4. Only sell ONE thing

I was always unsure WHAT to promote.  Right now LIFT Enrichment sells 3 things:

In-Person culinary workshops, but this is limited to clients that are in a metropolitan area with at least 7+ sites (typically they are districts like Val Verede, Pomona, Whittier, Palm Springs, Alum Rock, Bakersfield, etc.)  

Virtual-LIVE culinary workshops, which we can sell to anyone in the entire US because we ship our clients the ingredients, a culinary kit and they join a live cooking class on-site with their students on zoom led by our Chef Teacher.  This is perfect for single sites or when you have a group of schools that are spread out clients (i.e.  YMCA Wabash County in Indiana, or Communities in Schools of the South Plains in Texas, Mckinleyville USD in rural CA)

Professional Development:  which is where we train non-profit after-school programs, like KIPP So cal, or After-School All stars, on how to teach culinary workshops to their sites.  These non-profits operate 20+ sites and teach a variety of activities like science, sports, art, etc but don’t have a reliable cooking program. 

It was confusing to train my staff on how to sell all 3 services, so I focused on just ONE.  

Of the 3, can you guess which was the big winner?

Virtua,-Live

Within 3 weeks after the conference, I was having zoom meetings with prospects in Alaska, Florida, Kansas, Washington, Indiana and more!  Each meeting was back-to-back on zoom.

5. Host a Happy Hour!

The first night of the conference had a happy hour from 4:00pm-6:00pm in the exhibit hall, that featured a cash-only bar.  

I paid $2,000 for 50 drink tickets to pass out, so attendees would come to my booth (yep… each was $40!)    On the program it said the “Happy Hour was sponsored by LIFT Enrichment.”  I was shocked and a bit worried, I didn’t host a happy hour for thousands of attendees…just bought some tickets!

But I was the ONLY one to buy the drink tickets.

And when the Happy Hour started, people flocked to our booth.  The bar even setup their drink station in our space!    Just so you know, when educators attend a conference they are given a per diem for food, coffee, transportation, etc but they can’t use it for alcohol.  You would have to use your own money for drinks.

Attendees would swarm us and say “Hi, what do you do?  And can I get a drink ticket?”  

We quickly learned to screen who we gave our tickets to and came up with the response of, “We have a limited amount of tickets and we are able to give out two a Director of any program that has set a future meeting with us.”

This worked!  And we were able to meet some directors very quickly.  If we set meetings with teachers, it never resulted in a sale because they had other people they had to pitch.  

—–

Those are my tips on how to have fun and get leads at conference.  

Beyond School Hours was in Orlando this year and the one before, and I had some extra time to explore. I joined a friend from AZ to go to Universal Islands of Adventures after the conference and we had a blast. One highlight was the Jurassic Park-themed “VelociCoaster” which was a super fast coaster with lots of loops and turns.  Another highlight was going to the Harry Potter-themed village which had an amazing Hogwarts dominating the sky line, the really fast “Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure” and, of course, real butterbeer!   

Next year, Beyond School Hours is going to be in New Orleans, a city I’ve never visited, so I will definitely make a point to go with my team and even extend a few days to explore!

And here are our 3 most recent newsletters

Best,
Eric Horwitz, CEO of LIFT Enrichment

P.S.   Are you a director-level attendee going to BOOST 2023 in Palm Springs?  LIFT Enrichment is hosting a client-appreciation dinner at a very fancy steakhouse and we have 25 out of 30 spots booked!  It’s on Wednesday, April 26.  Message me “BOOST Dinner” if you’d like to join!

P.S.S.   If you’d like to bring healthy cooking classes to your students where we ship you the ingredients, culinary kit and you join a live cooking class on zoom with our Chef Teacher, let’s setup a quick 10-minute call to plan for Summer or Fall.  We’ve got a packed schedule and will be taking on a limited number of new clients. Click here to meet with me! 


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Eric Horwitz

About LIFT

Eric founded LIFT Enrichment in 2010 because he wanted to help young kids develop their culinary skills so they could make healthy foods for friends and family for the rest of their lives.  He has worked with kids for over 15 years and enjoys their energy and enthusiasm for learning new things.  Eric studied abroad in Italy while at UCLA and discovered a passion for cooking.  

Eric Horwitz, Ceo of Lift

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