Making the Most of Localization Events and Conferences

Making the Most of Localization Events and Conferences
September 19, 2018
With Michael and Renato
 The months of September through November mark the season of conferences. In Globally Speaking episode 63, we discuss the various events around the world, why they are valuable and how to make the most of them. Hope to see you at an event soon!
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Speaker Transcript
Michael I’m Michael Stevens.
Renato And I’m Renato Beninatto.
Michael And today on Globally Speaking, we are caught up in a particular season of the year where we’re not at home a lot.
Renato Yeah, some people call it travel season; we call this event season. We have two clusters of events in the calendar. So, you have the fall cluster that starts now, September to late November, some in early December. We’re getting into that season where we don’t sleep in the same bed every night!
Michael Which is pretty common for you.
Renato Yes.
Michael There are a few attributes of events that appeal to me. There are some events which are very much about developing new relationships, new business, trying to find out what’s happening next, and then there are other events that are more focused on the established relationships and how you maintain those.
Renato A lot of these events, for the majority of the people in the industry, are great learning opportunities. They are places where you can hear thought leaders, where you can see new ideas, new technologies. Events usually have a content track with presentations and workshops and trainings and things like that. And they have an exhibit area where products are showcased and companies try to sell their wares.
Michael Some of the more popular events that have been happening around the industry for years now: you have LocWorld.
Renato LocWorld is going to be number 38 this this year.
Michael Another event that’s pretty regular for probably a number of our listeners is TAUS.
Renato TAUS has a focus on technology and trends. It’s a one-track event. It’s a great networking opportunity. You don’t have a lot of exhibitors. It’s very conversational, it’s unique.

Then you have the regional language industry events which would be associations like ELIA in Europe, the ALC here in the United States, you have the translators’ associations. ATA has the biggest event in the industry as far as attendance is concerned. Among those global industry events, there is tekom in Germany, which is not traditionally a language industry event; it’s an event geared towards technical writers in German.

And then you have the Brazilian Translators Association, you have the Argentine Translators Association, the Italian Association, French Association, the British, and you have translators’ associations and you have company associations. NTIF, the Nordic Translation Industry Forum—very excellent content in there too.
Michael One of the others that is a newer event is the Slatercon.
Renato I’ve been to several of their events. Very well curated content, very high-level conversations. It’s a different format. It’s more geared to the business side of the industry. They talk a lot about neural machine translation, technology and things like that. It’s a great venue to talk about mergers and acquisitions.
Michael Some of the other events that I’ve gotten used to going to are not necessarily localization-specific events, but they are other industries. One that has appealed to me a great deal is the Fast Company innovation events. They do a west coast one and an east coast one, one in New York City. That’s a place where the magazine highlights their “best of” for the year. They have different speakers. One of the unique things that is offered in that environment is they do “fast tracks” at companies. You’re able to go with a small group of people and do a workshop in a particular company, usually a leading-edge company, and hear why they’re thinking the way they are. From a business development perspective, you have 30 people who you’re around all day, getting to talk to and find out what their business is about and how you might be able to help them.
Renato Depending on your role in the organization, you will have a different relationship with the events. So, if you are a marketing manager at an LSP and you have a budget for exhibiting at conferences, you need to find the ones that are going to be attended by the people you want to sell to.

If you want to exhibit to sell to buyers, you go to LocWorld. You go to tekom where you’re going to have a lot of people who are interested in finding new vendors. If you are interested in attracting new suppliers, you will go to the regional company events like the ATC, UATC, ATC in the UK, ELIA all over Europe. If you’re in the life sciences space, you go to specific life sciences conferences that have nothing to do with the language space. And who do you send to these events? If you are recruiting, you send vendor managers. If you are going for learning and education, you send your project managers. If you are looking for mergers and acquisitions, it’s your…
Michael Your senior, your senior folks, yep.
Renato If you are selling, you send your sales people to canvas the space. One comment that I like to make: companies will spend a lot of money going to expensive events, and then they are frustrated at the end because they didn’t get any new clients. What they don’t realize is that those people who have booths on the floor in the exhibit hall of any big conference, they’re not there to buy, they are there to sell. What is your strategy when you go to an event like that? How do you transform this opportunity?
Michael Very rarely does an event have a quick return on investment. Most of these events have been around for a number of years, and the same as any relationship: an element of trust needs to develop. You’re not just committing to showing up and throwing up a booth and getting your lead and converting that lead and then saying, “Oh well, that was worth it! Great—maybe I’ll be back next year.” Often, it takes a few rounds of showing up to a particular event, investing with the people who are putting on that event, being a good human being and volunteering to help out where they need it. All of those things begin to flip the whole equation from just showing up to get what you can out of it, but actually offer something better to the organization that’s there.
Renato Are you familiar with the concept of 27 impressions?
Michael Oh no. Tell me more.
Renato This is a very old marketing concept. It has changed a lot because of digital marketing, but the principle still stays, right? The idea is that people need to have nine impressions, and they’re going to miss once in every three opportunities. So, three times nine—27—and you have to have 27 impressions. But these impressions don’t need to be all in the same medium. You can have exhibits. You can have dinners. You can have individuals—
Michael Individuals walking the floor, conversations—
Renato This is the in-person part, but you can include digital marketing. That would include print media, all of that. So, if you look at all the media landscape, you need to have 27 impressions before people start remembering.
Michael Two questions and two thoughts about events that I think our listeners would be interested in. One, are you recognizing a trend of companies, individual companies, putting on events?
Renato Yes.
Michael Especially in our industry?
Renato Oh, absolutely, especially in software. This is something that the large software companies do. Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce.com—all of them have their big user group. It starts as user groups and then they become these huge events. You’ve seen in our industry…Smartling.
Michael …has theirs, XTM has their event…
Renato MemSource. All the software players have developed their user groups. Trados and SDL have roadshows, and so on. This is an efficient way to build loyalty because people come to these events mostly for education. They want to know the product and they want to network with other users that have similar challenges and they can influence the development of the product towards their needs.
Michael Oftentimes, they’ll have maybe a day or a track where there are speakers and there’s just an element where you’re able to listen, and then oftentimes there’s a very technical track where there’s hands-on labs where the users are able to dig into whatever new features are being released and that sort of thing.

The second thing is, often these events have sponsors, and what is your impression on sponsorship of events?
Renato Oh, I have lots of opinions about that! In my previous role as a VP of marketing, I had to think a lot about that.
Michael Because it’s often a significant investment.
Renato Newcomers, companies that need visibility, benefit a lot from these “metal sponsorships”—gold, platinum and so on—because your name is mentioned. Some events offer that, in exchange for the sponsorship, you get to host—not to present. If you have a presentation at an event, don’t sell. That’s the worst thing, because you have people who are paying good money to go to this event and they’re not there to listen to your infomercials. You’re selling in your booth.
Michael If your company has such a great story that they’ve been selected to be a presenter, let the story sell itself. Let whatever achievement you’ve had speak for itself and people are going to take away more having learned than having been pitched to.

There are some people who are listening who may not have budget for a sponsorship. They may not even have budget to get on a plane and travel or pay the cost of some of these events. There is a whole plethora of events in our industry related to user groups, related to women in localization. There’s the Unconferences which we do have a previous podcast on if you haven’t heard of those yet. Many of those are local events; they’re often quarterly or some type of regular rhythm there where you can get to know people who live in your city or your town or your region.
Renato And if you can’t go, create your own!
Michael Exactly!
Renato Organize your own event in your neighborhood, in your company. Get a couple of companies and get them together. I was recently in Russia for a series of presentations and events, and serious competitors got together to get training, to bring a speaker from outside, and they shared the cost and they get the benefit. All of them benefit from it even though they are competitors in their day-to-day. They are still players in the same industry and they benefit from that kind of information. Sometimes I tell this to companies that have a large number of employees, that they can do their own internal events.

You can’t go to Localization World? Bring Localization World to your company. Do the math, because for the price of maybe three, four, five attendees plus travel and so on at LocWorld, you can bring two or three very good speakers into your organization and have 30, 40, 50, 60 employees. Take advantage of that.
Michael Yeah. And I love that abundant mindset of competitors sitting down and learning together and being able to take that and making our industry a better place. We’re in an exciting time and in an exciting industry and hope everyone gets to enjoy this travel season, this event season, the same way that we get to.
Renato We will see you around!

End of conversation

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