Peer to peer

Supplier and ContractorsFootfall Events & Marketing
MarketingDec-new-resized.jpg

Will Broadfoot, director of Footfall Events & Marketing on unlocking exhibitor potential and improving participation.

 

There was a time when trade show marketing wasn’t the complex beast we face today.

 

It was a time when hundreds of registrations could be gleaned via emails imploring prospective visitors to ‘avoid the queues’ and exhibitor referral marketing consisted of a bundle of unrequested tickets stuffed into Jiffy bags alongside a show manual that could double as the phonebook. These are certainly changing times, but not just for organisers.

 

Consider for a moment how your exhibitors’ business models have changed over the last five years or so. The rules of marketing engagement have undoubtedly shifted just as much for them as they have for us all. They’re working harder, smarter and with seemingly fewer hours to dedicate to preparing properly for our events.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, some exhibitors absolutely get it: they complete all their catalogue entry forms, suggest VIP nominations, send over PR material, and fire off enough tweets to out-Trump the Donald. But for every super exhibitor, there are another ten that do a fraction, and some who do so little to help themselves, you wonder why they bother exhibiting at all.

 

Take a small but respectable trade event with 150 exhibitors. Is it really that hard to encourage them to successfully attract 20 visitors each through the doors? Well, sadly, it is pretty tough, but with a defined strategy, and 3,000 visitors at stake, it’s a challenge worth setting.

 

Registration companies have developed sophisticated tools to enable exhibitors to invite and monitor their target visitors while referral marketing software is now commonplace. And yet exhibitors are still often frustratingly reluctant to buy into the scheme. So what steps can we take to try to improve participation?

 

Perhaps the simplest check, but an easy one to overlook, is to ensure that our organiser-to-exhibitor messages are reaching the right person. Aside from the contract decision maker, we should know precisely who is responsible for marketing, who deals with PR and who will be getting the stand built. Perhaps less simple though is deciding who among the organising team should be responsible for account managing the exhibitor over the months leading up to an event.

 

And perhaps therein lies part of the problem: account management, and whose job is it anyway?

 

The ops team are busy collecting everything from risk assessments to stand plans; marketing are sending out invitations, banners and juggling a dozen vis prom campaigns; sales are focused on sponsorship, catalogue ads and filling the remaining stands; and PR are hoping to extract news, new product info and whatever else is needed.

 

Exhibitors have instructions, portals, offers and priorities coming out of their ears, and that’s just from the organisers. Add to this the raft of external suppliers offering everything from stand build solutions to phoney catalogue listings, and it’s no wonder they start to switch off.

 

But what if that exhibitor had a single point of contact whose job it was to personally prepare them for the event – would they participate more actively in the pre-show effort?

 

And if that individual followed a strategic plan detailing what they were sending, when and to whom, just how much more could be achieved?

 

I’m sure we’ve all heard this line before: ‘We don’t invite our customers to visit us at events because we don’t want them to meet our competitors’. Overcoming objections such as this isn’t impossible, but it does need to be done through actual dialogue. A single point of contact, with a build-up of trust behind them, would hopefully be well placed to get results.

 

An incentive or reward scheme might also help tip the balance. Free lead retrieval devices, speaker slots, post-show e-blasts, catalogue entry enhancements, even future stand discounts could be enticement enough to encourage exhibitors to embrace the programme.

 

Quite often though, it’s not exhibitors’ unwillingness to become involved that prevents them, it might simply be that they need help coming up with ideas or templates of what to say.

 

As marketers, we’re getting better and better at encouraging peer to peer referral among visitors, and I for one am a big advocate of the benefits of such tactics. But time and time again, our research shows that some of the visitor groups enjoying the highest conversion rates are those with pre-booked meetings to attend.

 

So shouldn’t we be doing everything possible to personally explain to our exhibitors how best to use the specialist tools we provide, to come up with ideas to help maximise their potential, and then reward those that do?

Nicola Macdonald
Posted by Nicola Macdonald
PopularComments
Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn

Related Stories

Movers & Shakers 26/04/17

People moves at Blitz|GES, Gallowglass, Mojo Barriers and more.

Multiplay launches event hardware rental arm  

Mutiplay, organiser of events such as MineCon, Insomnia and BRICKLIVE, has announced the launch of Multiplay Rentals, its new event hardware rental arm.

Future In 15 episode 2: etc.venues’ Alastair Stewart on how venue design impacts an event’s success

In the second episode of Future In 15, host Caleb Parker meets Alastair Stewart, managing director of etc.venues.

Others on EN

Fit for the 21st century

Fit for the 21st century

Andrew Harrison, ESSA director, says we should always fight to bring talent into the industry and encourage an appetite for success.
I'm a believer

I'm a believer

Sam Cande, group commercial director at Centaur Media, says no secret sales technique can compete with belief in a product.
Happy to help

Happy to help

Customer service can make or break a show, warns Media 10 event director Nathan Garnett.

CONFEX 2017 LIVE

Most Read Stories

Fit for the 21st century

Fit for the 21st century

Andrew Harrison, ESSA director, says we should always fight to bring talent into the industry and encourage an appetite for success.
I'm a believer

I'm a believer

Sam Cande, group commercial director at Centaur Media, says no secret sales technique can compete with belief in a product.
Lourda Derry: Making the connection

Lourda Derry: Making the connection

Lourda Derry, director of Easyfairs UK addresses the science behind operations and the profile of our audiences.

Latest News

Movers & Shakers 26/04/17

Movers & Shakers 26/04/17

People moves at Blitz|GES, Gallowglass, Mojo Barriers and more.
RDS launches RDS Venue brand

RDS launches RDS Venue brand

Philanthropic organisation the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) has announced that RDS Venue will be launched as a separate visual identity from the main RDS brand.
Multiplay launches event hardware rental arm  

Multiplay launches event hardware rental arm  

Mutiplay, organiser of events such as MineCon, Insomnia and BRICKLIVE, has announced the launch of Multiplay Rentals, its new event hardware rental arm.

Latest Features

Breaking barriers

Breaking barriers

The London Muslim Lifestyle Show is bringing Muslim businesses to the world stage, despite the occasional far-right protest.
My Working Life by David Chalmers

My Working Life by David Chalmers

The senior marketing director, Europe, at Cvent discusses how he got into the industry, his inspirational children and why he’s called The Doctor.
Feeding the five thousand

Feeding the five thousand

Exhibition catering and bars have undergone a transformation in recent years, and it’s not over yet.

Latest Galleries

A sneak peak at Somerset House's new event space

A sneak peak at Somerset House's new event space

Some of the industry’s leading event organisers were treated to an exclusive preview of Somerset House’s largest and most versatile indoor event space at an open house event on 19-20 April.
EN Awards 2017

EN Awards 2017

The best of the exhibition industry were out in force on 30 March at ExCeL London for the 11th annual EN Awards.
Natural & Organic Products Europe 2017

Natural & Organic Products Europe 2017

The 2017 Natural & Organic Products Europe celebrated its 21st edition earlier this month (2-3 April) as well as attracting its biggest attendance yet to ExCeL London.