Event-organising and exhibiting at conferences can be one of the most time-consuming and expensive ways to market your business.
But approached in the right way, event marketing can also be one of the most rewarding aspects and bring your product to the attention of the public. It can also prove a great return on investment.
If you turn up to a show without having first defined and carefully planned your events strategy then don’t expect to reap the rewards and go home blaming the organisers. What are the aims and objectives and why are you considering it? Is it going to be a one-off or the first of many similar ones? What is your target audience – have you drawn up a list of desired attendees? Are you aiming to have as many people there as possible or a select audience? Have you set aside an event promotions budget for your events?
Who is going to be responsible for your event marketing and who will attend on your company’s behalf? Do you need senior people or can your marketing department take care of it? Before you arrive at the event it pays to have served notice to the press by putting out releases or letters to raise a topical story they may wish to follow-up at the event. Having an opinion on your industry is something trade press, in particular, will seize on. Equally, tell your clients and prospective clients that you’ll be there and invite them to come and meet you.
Consider using an event planning company if you lack this resource in-house. A strong and impressive looking stand that draws attention is a good place to start and agencies can help you create one that works. You need to make it instantly apparent what you do and display your branding and messages clearly and concisely to attract passing hordes.
Once they’re hooked, you need to have a purpose and message for them, questions you are ready to answer, and information to hand out if they decide to move on with a view to returning. A great way to grab data is to get them to fill out their details for a free-to-enter competition, with a prize worth winning. Equally, have something to demonstrate or show-off. Contact trade press and if they’re attending, suggest they drop by your stand for a chat. This could be a good opportunity to gain further exposure post-event.
After the event, make sure a member of the team or salespeople are tasked with following up leads. It will help if you’ve managed to categorise leads, based on their level of interest. Obviously, you want to prioritise the hot ones.
Need to know
Timing, location and transportation are crucial for event marketing. Find out what else is being held in the area and draw up a list of potential dates. Before committing to a venue, check out the footfall, assess whether there is enough space – are you paying a fair price for the location? What facilities are included?
Don’t be tempted to opt for a slightly cheaper venue where you are unlikely to attract the right footfall. If your prospects and customers can’t see you, your event strategy counts for nothing. Similarly, don’t underestimate the importance of good transport in any event marketing strategy. Make a list of your objectives and requirements for any event marketing. It may include the following:
● A list of immediate and longer-term aims
● A very clear idea of your target market that your staff can seek out at the event
● How you plan to measure success / failure
● The activity you will do via your sales and marketing teams to support the event
● Your expectations with regards to volume of leads or the quality of them
● The budget you have set for both the event and post-event marketing
● Expectations of your staff at the event and those contributing to making it a success before and after
● Training you may need to offer staff to help them carry out their job better
● The method of follow-up campaign
● How you will feed back on performance and who will be charged with taking care of this