4/8/2021

Should Your Company Attend & Sponsor Virtual Conferences?  + A Few Other Ways to Reach RDs This Year

A big question circling through everyone’s minds as they look to continue to pivot their marketing strategies is “should we attend virtual conferences or events this year?” Our answer: it depends (not that straightforward, but stay with us). Below you’ll find some suggestions of virtual events with what you may be looking for that you can peruse to help make some decisions. For custom recommendations that fit your brand and marketing goals, reach out to us at hello@therdlink.com to learn more about working with us. 

Below we’ll outline a few virtual RD facing conferences and things to consider before committing. 

Virtual Conferences/Events

Today’s Dietitian 

The Today’s Dietitian Symposium is the other main RD conference (in addition to FNCE). It is a bit smaller than FNCE which many RDs like. In-person, it attracts about 700 RDs compared to 10k at FNCE.

Today’s Dietitian has a great reach and many opportunities for marketing through e-blasts or magazine ads (print and digital). Their in-person conference attracts less students and millennials and attracts a more established and experienced group of RDs, particularly media RDs. Today’s Dietitian offers many ways to partner throughout the year. The Today’s Dietitian Symposium is typically a fit for bigger, established brands with large budgets.

FNCE 

We highly recommend the in-person Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. This is an annual event that attracts over 10,000 nutrition professionals each October. It has an amazing expo hall for RDs to learn about your company and products. Since the event has gone virtual the focus lends itself to be more about continuing education credits for RDs rather than the brands. We have heard great things about virtual FNCE, but if you can wait until next year (and have the budget for it) the in-person experience is not to be missed! However, the virtual event would be a more affordable option to reach a large group of RDs.

RDBA

We highly recommended the RDBA Virtual Event. They first held this last fall in place of their in person event and it received great feedback. Packages start at $3,500 to reach about 350 Retail RDs nationwide. If you are looking to connect with a large group of retail RDs, this is the way to do it.

State Conferences

These vary state to state. Florida, New York, and California typically have the largest reach. Check to see if you can share samples with attendees or how you can engage with them or follow up with them after the show. These are also great if you are trying to give different regions some extra love for your products! 

What do these virtual conferences usually offer for brands? 

  • E-Blasts
  • Social Outreach
  • Logos on Materials
  • Samples

Considerations

The in-person added touch of commentary, overall brand booth presence, and brand back story is often removed when conferences go virtual. The key considerations for virtual events would be total visibility, repeat exposure, and engagement with attendees. We would recommend daytime events over evening events as attendees have likely taken time off work or paid to attend. We’ve found engagement to be lower with after-work virtual events – people are getting a little zoomed out especially in the warmer weather!

If you do participate in a virtual event – consider adding extra personal touches to at home mailers, or including specific, value-add calls to action in eblasts (like reach out to work with us, not buy now!).

If you’re holding off for in-person events to resume, consider getting creative and using your own resources for connecting with RDs. Like…

  1. Join Link to jumpstart or expand your RD outreach in all different ways
  2. Consider partnerships with retail RDs (they are still seeking samples to share!)
  3. Create Targeted Marketing Kits to share with key RDs you want to build relationships with – include useful and postable swag
  4. Check out RD podcasts for sponsorship or PR opportunities 
  5. Host a webinar for continuing education credits
  6. Create Facebook ads to reach RDs with call to actions to join your RD program (remember to offer a value add to the RDs)

There are still so many ways to meaningfully engage with RDs, but the main thing is choosing events and initiatives that truly align with your goals and target audience. Which virtual conferences are you considering or have you been impressed by? Are you attending virtual events this year or waiting for in-person events to resume?

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