Head of creative at George P Johnson Andy Bass returns to give advice on how to extend your exhibiting presence beyond the event dates.
Marketers should look at ways of extending this pique by devising a solid marketing and communication strategy that not only complements, but also interlocks with, your organisation’s wider communication plans.
Lay the foundations
As all good marketers will know, no marketing or communication plan is ever built on single components, but rather on one overall fluid communication cycle. This is especially true of exhibiting and, although a spike may occur in your marketing activity and resources, your exhibiting process should never be about just your show presence.
I’d implore you to leave nothing to chance. You should try to communicate with all of your potential leads before the show opens, as this is critical to fostering engagement with your target customer base before they have even stepped foot into the show.
By doing this, you are more likely to create successful interactions with them, since they have already been primed to be susceptible to your brand communications. By simply deploying a strategic, integrated approach, from using online tools to calling your database of contacts, you can generate brand awareness and help drive traffic to your stand ahead of the show.
You should also identify which of your contacts are ‘key leads’, as it is important to create time with these VIPs’ during your exhibiting period. This could be as simple as hosting an ‘invitation only’ drinks reception on your stand or creating a stakeholder event, such as a forum, to take place ahead of or during the exhibition to discuss trends or industry news.
Not only would this underline how much you value these key leads and their opinions, but also generate brand excitement and increase brand touch points. As a general rule, exhibitors should try to be at active as their exhibition organiser in terms of drumming up interest in their event presence.
Own the entire show
Exhibitors should also look at ways to build awareness of their show presence and, most importantly, how to channel this awareness into traffic to the stand. Start simple by exploiting all marketing and communication channels provided by the exhibition organiser and related industry media. You could even embrace their ideas and build on them to harness the pre-show anticipation being built.
If the exhibition is themed, why not host a pre-launch event ahead of it creating brand synergy and that all-important buzz. Also, its always worth investigating off-stand opportunities such as sponsoring a show feature.
However, be careful to ensure that this sponsorship complements your brand, especially as it can be costly. For example, if you are a technology provider and you sponsor the show’s seminar sessions, this could help underline your organisation’s approach to innovation and expertise.
Whatever you do, always tailor your approach to your target audience and understand their motivations for attending this particular exhibition. Then identify how you can intrigue, interact with and reward them. In doing so, not only will your audience appreciate being acknowledged, you will further underline your brand’s understanding of their needs.
Data capture is incredibly important too, so make sure that this is built into your exhibiting activity. Again, try to be creative with the way in which this data capture is conducted. With so many exhibitors looking to do this, you should try to stand out.
Perhaps you could take the process away from the stand into the show’s public areas? You could even hire actors to conduct it, adding an unexpected twist to a standardised procedure and thus also creating a talking point.
Avoid falling into the trap of thinking that your exhibiting presence ends the moment you take your stand down. Post-show follow up is crucial to ensuring a successful outcome, especially as relatively few deals are brokered during an actual show.
Collate relevant reasons to re-engage with the wider exhibition audience and the media, not just with your warm leads. You could easily do this by simply issuing a timely news item or thanking your contacts for their time. By ensuring a comprehensive follow-up takes place, you build on your brand’s foundations for the next live event.
Don’t miss out
Exhibiting should be considered an invaluable tool in any marketers’ arsenal. Very few marketing platforms can deliver such rich and focused buying power in an environment proven to be conducive for doing business.
With such enormous commercial potential for your brand to exploit, it is imperative to pay due attention to every aspect of the exhibiting lifecycle. This will help deliver a brand experience that resonates far beyond the actual show.
Look to build a communication and activity plan that not only helps to bring your potential customers to the exhibition and your stand, but which also accompanies them as they move away for your stand and leave to go home.
If you want to maximise the full potential of exhibiting to deliver a lasting and impactful brand experience, then you need to implement a multi-channel engagement model. Don’t just rely on a ‘turn up and hope for the best’ attitude.
Any comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org