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“Don’t do trade shows. They’re a waste of money,” says tech entrepreneur

"Being an early stage company and having a limited marketing budget, Dreamforce was always on our radar as a sponsorship opportunity," says Yates. "The event was organised by, which is already a partner of ours, so we knew that our key target audience would be at the conference."

For $10,000 plus expenses, Yates got a simple stand at the event with "a bit of graphics", an internet connection and a monitor. "We got the bargain basement deal," he says. "And there are strict rules for sponsors. Like at a football game, where the referee has to stay in his area, we weren’t allowed to wander far from our stand. But we came up with a clever way to market Artesian Solutions beyond the stand.

"We had these gold envelopes that we were handing out," he explains. "A rival firm was giving away an Aston Martin, but we don’t have the budget for that. So, we hid $2,000 in $1, $5, $50 and $100 bills in 1,000 envelopes, and gave them out to people at our stand. In the envelope was some stuff about the company, and the money. People had the option of keeping it, or donating it to the Cancer Trust, About 60 per cent of the people donated the money."

The "golden envelope" campaign generated 854 leads for the £1.5m-turnover firm. "There are about five or six opportunities that are hot to trot," says Yates. "We need to convert just one into business to make it worthwhile. And we can’t begin to measure the value of the PR. We are an unknown entitiy in the US, so the contacts and brand exposure are extremely good for the company."

However, Yates doesn’t recommend attending just any event. "Stay away from trade shows," he says. "They are a waste of money. I’ve seen companies waste 20 per cent of their yearly marketing budget on one show. That’s a very expensive cost per lead."

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