A clear objective
Events remain an extremely popular and effective way for businesses to meet customers, prospects and partners face-to-face. However tradeshows, exhibitions, conferences and seminars can be costly, time-consuming and labour intensive. So it’s important that organisations are clear about their business objectives and how they intend to measure success. After all, offering a raffle prize in return for delegates’ business cards doesn’t generate leads, just interest in whatever you’re giving away.
To gain maximum bang for your buck it’s important to integrate events into your wider marketing plans rather than view them in isolation. Businesses with fairly long or complex sales cycles in particular should view exhibiting at trade events as a stepping stone on the path to purchase rather than an end in itself. Ideally your event activity will actually start weeks, possibly months prior to the show and continue for a period afterwards.
A remarkably common pitfall for exhibitors is that having poured time, love and treasure into a trade show they fail to follow through with post-event activities. Even worse, companies often fail to follow-up on leads generated and connections made. That golden crop of business cards, enquiry forms and expressions of interest get dropped into someone’s desk draw and forgotten. Of course, every valuable contact should be immediately logged on your company’s CRM system and action taken. Mobile technology offers simple, often free tools that enable you to easily capture lead data and respond instantly, so nothing is left to chance.
Make a show of yourself
The alternative to exhibiting at established trade events is to organise your own. This will give you complete control of who, when, where, why and how the event takes shape. Once again, the key to success is being clear and realistic about your objectives. Make a plan and try to stick to it. Ensure everyone knows who is doing what and by when – be deadline driven. Assign adequate resources to meet your aspirations. It’s better to adjust your expectations than skimp on things. You’ll only end up with a poorly finished, shabby event that reflects badly on your brand. Always do some contingency planning.
Virtually a trade show
Virtual trade shows are growing in popularity as an affordable alternative to physical events. This might be an option for smaller businesses with a limited budget and resources. However, virtual trade shows are currently no substitute for real human interaction and networking opportunities. Virtual delegates are far more easily distracted by things competing for their time and attention such as emails and phone calls. They also spend less time browsing virtual exhibition halls than someone physically present.
Finally, you might decide that a webinar or Google Hangout is actually a better mechanism for reaching out to your prospects than a trade show.
Safe pair of hands
Over the years I’ve organised, hosted and exhibited at countless events across Europe from product launches at the UK’s National Space Centre to running channel partner roads shows across Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway. I’ve scouted venues and organised events everywhere from F1 race tracks, luxury hotels and a 19th Century prison to Station X, home of the Enigma codebreakers.
Event solutions include:
- Event and venue finding
- Stand design and theme
- Pre and post event activities
- Social media
- Promotional items
- Marketing collateral
- Data collection and reporting
- Complete end-to-end event solutions