It’s true, event season is in full swing and it’s probably true to say that your diary is looking rather full for the next 6 weeks or so. But if you were honest with yourself, are they all really going to benefit you and if the answer is ‘yes’ what can you be doing to give your business the competitive edge?
Business events, exhibitions and trade shows can be excellent marketing opportunities, enabling you to meet with your audience face to face, building personal relationships and showcasing your products and services in all their physical glory.
Haven’t you found that with the rise of faceless digital communication, a face to face interaction suddenly seems like a daunting prospect? But now is the time, lets ditch the digital and get back to basics, there’s nothing like a sales pitch to get your heart racing, and ultimately boost your confidence; it can remind you of how passionate you are about your business.
The budget of such events will forever be a sticking point, from starting out and far beyond – finance controllers are always going to ask for the ROI upfront (Please schttttaaappp). Don’t get caught in the web of doubt either, and think that you couldn’t possibly make as much of an impact as your established or more corporate competitors because this simply isn’t true. When it comes to making an impact, creativity is the one element that you can have on your side, and often within a start-up you are free from bureaucratic regulations and policies and have an abundance of creativity which can often supersede a big budget.
If these fears sounds similar to ones that you have experienced, read on to discovered the event trend that could prove fruitful for you.
Provide an Experience
What has 2 thumbs and hates rollers and a trestle table? MOST PEOPLE. Seriously now, this is dull and lacks real effort or commitment to the event, not to mention entirely outdated. Surely, this is not how you want your business to be perceived? Exhibition spaces that are exciting and engaging will appeal to attendees and make a lasting impression.
Be sure to use your branding consistently, using brand colour and font across any material that you use, perhaps even opting for lighting and large scale magnetic backdrops to make an impact.
A trend that is rising in popularity is ‘themes’. Themes are a great way to make your business memorable and can ensure great word of mouth marketing as people tell their friends and colleagues about their experience. One example of a recent theme adopted by a brand is Hollywood. The stand included a red carpet, celebrity look a likes handing out popcorn and all of their branding material mimicked movie posters. It didn’t stop there, the vying crowds were given a stylish invite for them to book in a consultation with a sale representative.
Richard LeCount from USB4Photographers offers some advice, “It goes without saying that trade shows and business exhibitions can be dull, especially if you regularly exhibit and aren’t seeing much of a ROI. If you aren’t enjoying the experience, it’s likely that your audience won’t be either. Look to standout, be the talk of the exhibition and really think outside the box – its 2016 and business doesn’t have to mean boring. “
Be the Entertainment
In order to really capture the attendee’s attention, the experience needs to be all encompassing – this is time for you to harness modern technology and capture their imagination.
Think of something fun and interactive that can be played out on a hand held tablet (great for data capture!) it could be something as simple as a quiz about the local area or industry, it could even be about the exhibition industry, for example the percentage of decision makers that attend and how much revenue the industry generates. We all love being fed facts and figures!
It’s safe to say that as a society we place a higher value on experiences more than material possessions. Of late, there has been growth in offering these special experiences at business events, namely in the shape of Virtual Reality. VR is often talked about, but still a fairly new concept, and if this is something you think you could offer – it will certainly make you a talking point, especially if you could tie it in with your business, perhaps even a ‘day in the life of’. With this in mind, gaming and gamification are also popular trends as are party favourites like photo booths and even close up magic being performed.
To avoid going out of your way to provide a unique experience is almost like admitting defeat. Break up the monotony and be disruptive, as American Business Writer Tom Peters once said, “Are you placing enough interesting, freakish, long shot, weirdo bets?”
Be an Influencer
At many of these events, comes the opportunity to be an active participant by being a speaker, or a panellist. The chances are, if you are a business owner, or an entrepreneur then you will have a story to tell that will inspire others or you are an expert in your industry.
Just like no one wants vague, ‘salesy’ content anymore, people also don’t want to be ‘sold to’ at these events. Aim to be informative, educational and motivational and as you begin to share your knowledge, you will start to become recognised as a leader in your field and an influencer in an authentic and genuine way.
By standing up and speaking in this way you will appear customer friendly and will gain respect from both your audience and your peers, undoubtedly generating many conversations afterwards having given people some serious food for thought. It also provides a great reason for you to put in some serious PR effort to ensure a good turnout.
CEO of Owner Media Group and seasoned Speaker, Chris Brogan concurs, “I use my LinkedIn profile to get recommendations from people who’ve seen me speak, and I list professional speaker as one of my “jobs” on the site. Further, if I’m going to an event, I blog about the event at least once before attending, and I use Twitter a lot at the event so that it’s not unknown that I’m speaking yet again.
This is all under the realm of social proof. When people see you in the role of speaker, they better understand how you’re going to help, and what you’re going to deliver. The more they see proof of how you’ve delivered, the more they’ll be interested in hiring you for the next gig.”
Event marketing has changed, businesses need to offer more than their product, and they need to offer a memorable experience to all that they come across at the event. Remember your brand values and live and breathe these so that they message is conveyed without it being displayed.