In these days of internet marketing we’re all well aware of the power of the web, but there’s still nothing quite as powerful as meeting potential customers face-to-face. Quite often the best place to do this is at exhibitions, events and conferences. The benefit of being on the ground, in the heart of your industry, where real conversations are happening, is priceless. Here are 6 top tips for exhibitions, events and conferences: why you should be there, where you should be, how to stand out from the crowd and how this can all translate into sales leads for your business.
6 top tips for exhibitions, events and conferences
Many forms of digital marketing are faceless interactions that can quite often be seen as intrusive – regardless of the fact that the recipient actually signed up for them in the first place. The beauty of face-to-face marketing is just that, it’s an opportunity to have a real one-on-one interaction with potential and existing customers. At any event, the attendees are there because they’re keen to receive information from others. This creates a unique environment for you to showcase your product and services to an engaged and captive audience.
Where and when
Regardless of budget there is an event out there for every business – from regional Chamber of Commerce events and business fairs, through to national trade and consumer shows. The first point of consideration when researching should be finding industry specific events where your target market can be found. The second consideration will be budget. If you have a healthy budget for exhibiting then there’s a whole catalogue of national events that can in some instances attract an international audience. If your budget is tight – or non-existent – consider finding smaller, more local events where you can potentially present a workshop or seminar for free to gain some brand awareness.
Offering to present at events is a great way to command some attention, talk about your business and position yourself as an industry authority. At some events it will actually cost to present, whilst other event organisers will be really keen to offer free air-time to anyone who is willing to share their knowledge, skills and experience in the market place.
If you’re an exhibitor at an event you’ll be one stand in amongst a sea of other businesses. So how do you stand out from the crowd? Position will be the very first thing to consider and quite often the location of your stand will impact on your costs. Being at the very hub of the event, at the main cross roads, will tend to be more expensive, but quite often more affordable spots can be found where footfall is still high.
Branding will also be a big feature for anyone considering an event of any kind. Effective branding means prospective clients, whether they’re passing or in an audience scenario, have a visual reference for your business. Any branding should incorporate your logo, strap-line, web address, and – increasingly in these days of social media – a twitter handle, which is a great way of incorporating cross-channel marketing into the mix.
If you’re hosting a stand, having banners and backdrops that incorporate all these elements is key. But as we all know, having something a little bit ‘quirky’ is often popular as a way of catching people’s attention i.e. popcorn, sweets, arcade games, videos on loop. Just make sure that anything given away is branded to associate it back to your business.
The clincher for any marketing activity, events included, will be how all this resource can translate into actual sales leads for your business. And it’s here that data collection will be key.
Nothing in life comes for free and the same can be said for gathering data. Think about why a potential customer would give you their email address – if there’s nothing in it for them, then the chances are they won’t give it to you. Tempt them to give their details over with your expertise, free advice and quotations, as well as promotions, competitions and giveaways. The best I ever saw was from a wine company who gave out a £20 off code for all purchases made in the following 48 hours, I’d signed up within ten minutes!
Conducting market research at exhibitions does not only give you valuable data into your prospective audience and industry, but can also provide another useful follow-up opportunity. By using the data you collate at the event, create a whitepaper, document or infographic that is then provided free to anyone who took part in the research. This gives you a valid reason for email collection and the participant is pretty much guaranteed to open, read and engage with the resulting correspondence.
This article has been written by Gemma Russo from Express Displays who provides great advice and products for exhibitors. From simple banner stands and pop up displays to literature stands and leaflet holders, if you’re attending an event this year make sure you check out Express Displays for all your marketing stand materials.