A to Z of Marketing: E = Exhibitions

The A to Z of marketing is designed to give you a flavour of the multitude of components that need to be considered when marketing  a business.

This week we look at E=Exhibitions.

Exhibitions can provide an excellent way for you to reach your target audience cost effectively.  The key element to this is “target audience”.

First of all make sure that the visitor demographics for the show are bang in line with who you are trying to reach.  If not, it will be an expensive and tiring waste of time!

This information is always available from the exhibition media pack – either online or they will send you one upon request.  Many exhibitions will sell off last minute space at much reduced rates so it can often be beneficial to play the waiting game!

Also, when evaluating a show – ring round some of the previous year’s exhibitors to get a true insight into the quality of the event.

The downside to exhibitions is that you are often crammed into an exhibition hall with 100+ other suppliers, some of whom may well be your competitors!

There is going to be a lot of promotional “noise” at the event so you need to make sure that you stand out from the crowd.  Quite often the event itself will be seeding process of what will turn out to be a number of fruitful relationships.

Here are some key tips to follow in order to get the best return from your event!

1.  Set an Objective & Budget

It seems really obvious but many companies go into an event and don’t think through exactly what they want to get out of it.

Set some targets and goals and work out how much your budget is for the whole event (including accommodation, travel, stand extras, giveaways etc).

Once you have a budget and a target in terms of how many clients you need to generate (based on average transaction values) and good idea of your conversion rate then you are clear on how hard you need to WORK during the event.

Don’t just expect visitors to pile onto your stand.  Being there isn’t just enough – you need to entice and engage with them.

 2.  Select a Theme or Message

The most successful stands at exhibitions have a clear theme or message running through them.  Don’t just turn up and say “Hey this is us – aren’t we great”.

Once you know what your theme or core message is (which should be centered around a client benefit) you can then tailor everything so it ties in nicely with this theme.  This makes your message much stronger and memorable.

 3. Be different

Nearly every single exhibition stand will have some graphics and some form of giveaway available – whether it is a glass of champagne, a promotion pen, promotional confectionery, promo mug or an exhibition bag filled with goodies.

However, many visitors are hoarders who end up with bagfuls of free giveaways at the end of the event.  Remember that it is the follow up that is going to be key and your prospect has been exposed to 100+ brands in one day. If you can make your brand stand out from the crowd, through the on-stand experience and your branded giveaway and become memorable – this will make the follow up process much easier.

4. Follow up!

Just like with all marketing activity – the follow up is crucial.  Harvard Business School states that 80% of sales opportunities are lost purely because of not following up!

If you do points 1,2 & 3 correctly but then fail to follow up…it will prove to be an expensive waste of time.  Follow up promptly as well whilst you are still fresh in the prospects mind.

Why not grade your prospects? Because remember if you generate 200 leads there is a lot of work there to follow up with them all efficiently.

You could follow up your top grade prospects f within 5 days, next level within 10 days and bottom tier within 15 days.  It could be that some of your leads will just get added to a database (see last week’s blog) for now until they evolve a bit.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.