September 20, 2005 |
Marketing Week: September 2005 Business conferences and exhibitions often do not have the excitement of consumer events, as businesses tend to adopt a more sober tone when communicating to their clients, suppliers and partners than when marketing to the general public. But why is this? We examine the best ways to bring your brand to life for your business contacts at conferences, exhibitions and events.
Extracts of the following response appeared in Marketing Week, September 2005 It’s not necessarily true that consumer events are more exciting than business focused conferences and exhibitions. The large consumer events can often seem far more exciting due to the press coverage they achieve, but these elements are usually gimmicks to attract the paying public to what otherwise might be fairly uninspiring. Consider the Motor Show. Several hundred cars on expensive stands are not actually that interesting to anyone other than prospective buyers and petrol heads, whereas rally courses, stunt drivers, kart racing etc will bring in the crowds and are usually publicised in the national press. What about the exhibitions and events the public doesn’t get to hear about? How about the major phone companies laying on concerts with top popstars or the IT firms hiring whole theme parks for their business meetings – certainly not sombre events, but also not something that is likely to achieve wide publicity, dispelling the myth that commercial meetings are dull. Ultimately the tone of the communications will reflect the industry sector holding the event, whether that is a business meeting, conference or exhibition. Some sectors are quite frankly dull – to those not in that sector – and don’t need marketing gimmicks to excite the audience. Being able to engage with like-minded individuals is rewarding enough with perhaps some good post-event entertainment. In some professions tradition and etiquette are still hugely important over loudness and frivolity. A clinical conference, discussing the launch of a new drug needs to be serious and low key. There will be no marketing budget as the drug is not yet in production and the producers will not wish the event to be too high profile. Some months later the same drug may need a massive launch event involving enough AV, graphics and branding to rival the launch of any consumer product. All audiences need to be approached differently to achieve the right objectives. Success comes down to a fundamental set of principles – the 4Ps of successful event organising (planning, promotion, people and productivity). Audiences want to be 100% involved in events targeted at them. They don’t want to spend time and money at an event that is only 25% relevant. Organisers need to plan carefully by segmenting their audience, identifying what each group of attendees need and making sure the event suits them. All subsequent promotional material and branding need to follow this segmentation. Don’t send out identical mailers to 1,000 attendees if you know only 200 will respond to that message. Send 200 and find new messages for the other 800. Generally show organisers across business sectors are working harder to engage the visitor and compel them to visit. Many organisers have embraced the uniqueness of the face to face environment in engaging the five senses, by producing interactive visitor experiences, networking bars, specialist pavilions and entertainment. 76% of attendees at exhibitions arrive with a fixed agenda. So, make sure through pre-event planning and promotion you’re on that agenda. If not, you have 3 – 5 seconds to get their attention and interest once they spot your stand. It doesn’t matter how dull or dry the product on the excitement stakes – getting noticed is about brand building, creativity, graphics, movement and lighting. The message needs to be right so that you’re remembered for the right reasons and planning it well in time is a key part to getting it right. Utilising pre-show direct marketing, PR and web marketing and remembering to plan and design your graphic messages well in time are key criteria for brand awareness. Excitement at any event is relative, a 50-year-old lawyer and 10-year-old child will find very different things interesting and “exciting “. Make sure your event staff (people) understand the differences between your attendees and approach them all in the way in which they deserve. Events are expensive and you need to get a return on investment, whatever type of event you’re running or attending. Make sure you are being productive and efficient by formulating a plan to evaluate the success of your event – set objectives and measurements in the planning stage and evaluate these after the event through, for example, post show sales, visitor feedback, exit polls etc. Only by measuring will you truly know if the event was successful. It will also help with the planning of your next event. Emma Swales, marketing manager, Nimlok