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Don't just book your stand & hope for the best

Don't just book your stand & hope for the best

by: Matt Coyne 22-Aug-2016

This one is for exhibitors. But maybe also organisers...both can have take aways from this.

There's a lot that goes into exhibiting at an event. So many people focus on the stand, the beautiful design they're creating, but you can't ust book your stand and hope for the best. So what do you do?

Maybe the first question should be asked, why do visitors visit the event you’re exhibiting  at? What makes them attend? What interests them?

All of this information should be made available to you via the organiser. They have a vested interested in your presence at the event and they want to retain you year on year, so they should be able to tell you who’s coming and what they’re looking for.

But, the question “why do they visit?” is slightly different.

Typically, on any given visitor feedback form, the answers are the same:

  • To see what’s new
  • To learn from the content
  • To meet industry peers

I’ve commented on this before (exhibitor / visitor wants & needs). The key reason for visiting (68% in fact) for visitors, is NOT to see exhibitors. They attend to see content, education & inspiration.  

Uh oh… no, don’t cancel your deposit.

Stick with it. Here’s what you can do.

Start with the exhibition website. But do exhibitor profiles on event websites matter?

With my exhibiting hat on, I’d say absolutely. For example, do make sure you select your product / business categories. Do upload products. Add white papers & press releases, but make sure it's relevant to the event! You should be looking beyond just the exhibitor listing for opportunities to attract visitors to your stand. You want to maximise exposure, but based on those key stats (learning & content being key), offer delegates something else.

We’re currently looking at some ROI on all aspects of an event, including website profiles to see what affect it has on say leads generated, so there is no conclusive evidence (that I’m aware of!) yet, but if you don’t do anything, will people find you amongst the noise?

If visitors are looking for inspiration, then you should inspire. If they’re looking for education, then you should educate. If they’re looking for content, then you should, um, content?

 How can you get all of this on your stand? You’ve only got a 2x3m space. What do you do?

Firstly, you need to find out all of the opportunities available at the event. For example:

  • Can you work with the organiser in creating content for their website (helps the event – helps you get exposure)? Think short video interviews maybe, on issues affecting your industry.
  • Is there chance for you to speak? If there is, don’t make it a pitch – no one is interested. You can of course reference your product, but perhaps talk about the benefits of doing things in a certain way. I used kinetic sand to talk about insight…everything is possible.
  • Can you sponsor floor tiles to lead people to your booth. Don’t just use your name, perhaps add a bit of insight. Create intrigue. Change people’s direction.
  • Is there a whitepaper or research you have on your sector? Get people to visit your booth to have access to it. Launch it at the event.
  • Will the organiser promote press releases for you? Save up a few stories and send them out around the event. But don't be generic. Stand out from the crowd.
  • Follow social channels. See what people are looking forward to doing / learning at the event. Can you help them? If you can, message them, tell them you have some insight around what they’re after.
  • Can you blog with / for the organiser? Can you offer some content to their site (they’re desperate for content themselves by the way!), to help add more coverage?
  • Is there a new products showcase at the event? If so, and you have a new product, submit it! It’s another great spot at the event to grab attention, but ask the organiser what they’re doing to help push people to your booth if you’ve been listed or shown.

This is by no means an extensive list by, but hopefully gives you some ideas or opportunities you could be looking for to engage around an event, with more content.

If you don’t have an extensive marketing team to create it, don’t worry, even doing just a few of those things will help, but do maybe engage with a marketing or exhibition specialist (like Exhibitor Smarts) to help build up some of these stories for you. If it helps drive people to your stand over your competitors, then it’s worth it.

Only you can truly say if the value of exhibiting at an event has been worthwhile, but give it a chance. Look outside of the box at the opportunities that can drive exposure and engagement before, during & after the event. Find yourself a bit of space, or a subject others aren't addressing and embrace it.

So no, you can’t just build it and they will come. But, you can be in control of your experience and that of your customers & prospects. Give them something worthwhile and they’ll come on by.

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