Event Marketing Campaigns
All too often exhibitors neglect the power of pre- and post-exhibition promotional activity. When developing your promotional plan, advertising, media relations, sponsorship and special activities, keep a consistent theme throughout. This will help reinforce your message to prospects and help better recall of who you are.
Here are some tips on:
1. Create a memorable message
The key to successful promotion is targeting those people that you want to get onto your exhibition stand. The key to a successful campaign is having a unique message that helps differentiate you in the market.
Ask yourself the following questions to help you decide on your unique message:
- What is your company presenting that is so compelling that visitors need to flock to your stand?
- What do you do better than your competition?
- What does your company offer to buyers that’s of real value? – for example, better guarantee, better delivery, lowest price, or best selection?
The objectives and target audience established in the planning stage form the basis of your promotional activity. The main promotional activities to attract stand traffic are:
- Personal invitations
- Direct Mail
- Public Relations
- Internet activity
2. Pre-show Activity
As a rule of thumb after deciding the theme and what you wish to showcase at your event, if possible, you need to get your hands on the event organiser’s preregistration list as far in advance of the event as possible.
Segment the contacts from the list and your own in-house database into communication groups (current customers, competitors, and prospects). By creating separate target groups you can tailor your communications. You may also want to do this by industry sector for more specialised areas.
By communicating through one channel you can trigger a response and data capture through another. For example, a direct mail campaign can offer a tangible invitation where the recipient must then visit your website (where all your communications channels return to) they can sign up to confirm their attendance, receive a free gift, promotion etc, while providing their email addresses and any other items of missing contact information.
Your website can be used to reiterate all the information and elaborate on teasers from your mailers and invitations. As the main hub for information, your attendees can access directions to your event, travel suggestions, accommodation recommendations and promotions.
Personal invitations created via variable data printing or emails by bearing the full name of the recipient can add value and exclusivity. In addition, tangible or printable invitations can form a voucher to be redeemed for a gift or promotion at your stand.
Starting communication early allows you grab those important diary dates first, sending invitations too close to the event runs the risk that the client already has another appointment.
Depending on the profile and size of the event, communications should ideally start two months prior to the event date. Advance communication also gives you the chance to raise a higher level of awareness about your event allowing more time for recipients to ‘warm’ to your communications.
3. At-Show Activity
Make sure the press office has a good selection of your press material. Focus on benefits and what you’re doing at the show. This is often forgotten by many exhibitors which is a huge oversight as the press depends on such information to form their coverage of the particular show.
Invite key journalists to your stand and be ready for them with your press contact primed and your information ready. The organiser can help you identify which journalists you should invite.
At-show promotions can be an effective method of drawing visitor attention to your stand. Promotional giveaways are the most popular device but consider the benefit to you achieving your objectives. If you offer a prize draw consider what you are going to do with the data you’re left with at the end of the show. Don’t confuse them with leads. This is a contact database activity and shouldn’t be confused with real prospects.
Creating activity and movement on your stand by giving something to passing visitors can often be more productive particularly if you have included on the item your company contact details and what you do. If managed well and enthusiastically this kind of activity can generate real interest and serve as a hook to engage conversation.
4. Post-Show Activity
Don’t fall into the trap that many exhibitors do of channelling all your energy and activity into planning and preparing the exhibition, conducting a successful event with well trained staff and pre-exhibition marketing activity to then return to the office, pat yourselves on the back and forget about it until next year.
Keep going with the promotional activity. Not all visitors will have got to your stand. A number of pre-registrations will not have made it to the show at all.
A simple ‘Sorry we missed you but did you know …’ can generate a whole new set of leads.
Don’t forget about the press releases you sent out and the journalists that visited your stand. Get in touch with each editor and ask if they need more information. Tell them about the successes you had at the show. If you do this promptly you may gain a mention in an exhibition review piece.
Also, make sure that you include valuable show information in your company newsletter and on your website.
See how we used our pre, during and post show marketing campaign to reach over 5,000 marketing professionals at Marketing Week Live in 2015.