Booth Staff Attendee Engagement Techniques that Help Maximize Lead Generation Reply

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, CEIR Research Director

For many exhibitors, a primary goal of exhibiting is to generate new leads, nurture existing ones and maintain relationships with customers to feed the sales pipeline. Business-to-business exhibitions enjoy the reputation of delivering high value in this area. According to CEIR research, 99 percent of surveyed exhibitors say that business-to-business exhibitions deliver unique not fulfilled by other marketing channels. The most popular unique value speaks to the ROI of participating, the ability to see a large number of prospects and customers over a short period of time.

Though to maximize the power of lead generation and nurturing at an event, exhibit staffers need to connect with as many qualified attendees as is logistically possible. How can an exhibit manager create the mindset among booth staff to be as effective as they can be in this area?

CEIR offers two reports, written by Barry Siskind, an internationally recognized exhibit marketing consultant that addresses two basic, though crucially important skill sets that need to be put into action to help achieve success in this area, techniques to:

  • Connect and engage with attendees effectively; and
  • Disengage with attendees in a positive manner to enable exhibit staff to move on to the next prospect or customer.

Sounds obvious right? Though how does one do this? Exhibitions are unique marketing mediums, a sales pitch or consultative sell approach is different in a booth where there is time pressure to achieve exhibitor goals. It is not the same as a phone call or an in-person visit over a meal or at a prospect’s office where there’s more time for engagement. Which techniques work well and where can one find examples to use in role-playing to use in exhibit staff training for an upcoming event? Check out these two reports to learn more about these basic, though critically important topic areas:

Approaching Prospects on the Exhibition Floor

Once the Conversation Is Over – It’s Over!

For readers interested in a broader discussion of what to include in an exhibit training program, another well-known business-to-business exhibition consultant, Candy Adams, offers a comprehensive overview on what to consider including in such a program, along with a handy check list that is a great reference tool to use when planning each program: An Exhibit Manager’s Guide to Exhibit Staff Orientation.

Keep in mind, this blog does not address the importance of effective pre-event and onsite marketing efforts that drive attendees to a booth. That blog topic is left for another day. This blog assumes that work was done well, the articles listed above provide instruction for exhibitors on how to maximize the opportunities that come their way.

Another Case for Infrastructure Investment Reply

By Cathy Breden, CAE, CMP, Managing Director, Center for Exhibition Industry Research

Jeff Werling, one of CEIR’s economists and the executive director of Inforum/University of Maryland, recently sent me a report his team on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) concerning infrastructure investment. Jeff and his team compiled a unique and revealing data set on recent infrastructure investment which implies that real investment in public infrastructure has been falling over a decade, and by investing in public infrastructure benefits the economy in the short- and long-term. These findings reinforce the findings of a White Paper recently released by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

2014.10.16 CEIR Blog_CEIR Index Figure 11.3 HI RESReading the press release made me look at what the CEIR Index Report says about this sector and the table below says it all. Output (infrastructure investment) and employment are very closely related.

Take a moment to read the press release on NAM’s website.

Infrastructure Investment Creates Positive Outcomes for the Economy… and the Exhibition Industry Reply

Cathy Breden, CAE, CMP, Managing Director, Center for Exhibition Industry Research

Executive Director Jeff Werling, of Inforum at the University of Maryland, and one of CEIR’s economists, recently completed a report for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). AEM released a White Paper, “The Economic Footprint of the Construction Equipment Industry on the U.S. Economy.” The paper provides a new and innovative estimate of an industry which includes downstream activities such as transportation and distribution.

The Building, Construction, Home and Repair (HM) Sector is the beginning of the food chain. Watching the HM sector’s performance is an indicator of other things to come – whether we are on an upswing or downswing. Here’s why:

  • Construction Equipment contributed a $57.1 billion economic impact in 2012 and supports 370,000 jobs.
  • Construction machinery impacts productivity of construction itself. The Construction Industries Institute indicates widespread improvement across construction activities from 0.2 percent to 2.8 percent, 1976 through 2004, respectively.
  • Infrastructure investment is now about half (1.5 percent of GDP) of its peak of 3 percent in the late 1960s.
  • Deficient surface transportation infrastructure is projected to reduce cumulative GDP by $900 billion over the next decade.
  • Based on research by Inforum, a $1 billion increase in infrastructure spending will increase GDP by almost $2 billion and create 15,000 jobs in the short run.

The CEIR Index reported that heavy and civil engineering construction, which includes utilities and infrastructure, grew 1.4% in 2011 and 4.0% in 2012, and despite government gridlock and weak public construction spending, employment grew another 2.4% in 2013. Will this growth continue if investment is made in public infrastructure investment?

Tell us what you think!

For more CEIR Index insights relating to the construction sector, download the sector report at the following link: 2014 CEIR Index Report: Building, Construction, Home and Repair Sector (HM).

Same Old, Same Old Just Won’t Cut It – Innovate Your Approach Every Year Reply

By Cathy Breden, CAE, CMP, CEIR Managing Director

Marco Pardi, President of UBM Tech Events and a panelist at the recent CEIR Predict Conference, suggests that exhibitions in the Communications/IT Sector take a cue from “brick and mortar” companies like IBM, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and HP. “They’re constantly reinventing because they’re competing with new, lifestyle conferences like South by Southwest, which also vie for their core attendee base,” says Pardi.

This is certainly good advice and counsel for any exhibition regardless of industry sector. We must all be thinking about how we create an experience that will make our attendees and exhibitors want to return each year. Every year, we have to be innovative in our approach. We can no longer do the same thing as last year.

Freeman, content curator and a title sponsor for Predict this year, wrote a blog recently on key factors driving growth for events in the technology sector. Regardless of sector, the blog provides a look at key factors for growth which were discussed at Predict. Click here to read the blog.

The Power of PREDICT Reply

By Mary Tucker, CEIR Blog Manager

PREDICT: CEIR’s Annual Exhibition Industry Outlook Conference continues the conversation of where the overall economy is headed and how that will affect the exhibition industry.

Freeman, a title sponsor of Predict, offers further insight into this data on its blog about the event. Cautious optimism is growing as the economy continues its steady movement upwards. The exhibition industry is keeping pace, albeit with slightly smaller numbers in comparison to GDP, but keeping up nonetheless.

Who will come to save the day? According to various panelists at Predict, the Millennials will play a significant role by shaking up the industry through their undeniable power of persuasion. READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE.

Want to see the hard numbers for yourself? Go straight to the source, the CEIR 2014 Index Report: 2013 Exhibition Industry and Future Outlook.

Want to know how to appeal to the Millennials? Check out the 2014 Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study as well as Best Practices by Exhibition Organizers to Attract and Retain Young Professional Attendees.

Want general information about trends and behavior on the show floor? Look into Exhibition Floor Interaction: What Attendees Want, Cost to Attract Attendees, How to Stop Attendee Loss and CEIR’s newest offering, Once the Conversation is Over – It’s Over!

CEIR President & CEO Reflects on Predict 2014 – Insights Point to Positive Outlook for the Industry Reply

By Brian Casey, CEM

There has always been a need by all of us to try and understand what the future holds. We live it every day with predictions on the weather, future of stocks, the economy and of course, world politics.

Last week, a high concentration of thought leaders in the exhibition industry convened in Chicago for the 4th annual Predict Conference. It was an exciting event that brought a focus on our industry unlike any other industry event. Hosted by CNBC’s Ron Insana, CEIR provided on an overview of where the macro economy is going as well as a perspective of its impact on our industry. In general, the outlook is quite good and rather positive.

Ryan Sweet, Economist for Moody’s Analytics, kicked off the program by providing great insight into the near term outlook on our economy. With consumer spending and housing improving, future GDP is expected to exceed 3% in 2015. Energy production in the U.S. is generating reserves allowing us to be less dependent on foreign oil, which in the near term, may bring down oil prices. We do, however, need the housing market to grow faster. Ryan pointed out that the younger generation is either living at home longer or making the choice of renting. The sooner parents kick them out of the house he commented, the better for our economy!

More positive news was also reflected in CEIR’s outlook and predictions on our own industry. Since the launch of the CEIR Census and Index in 2000, CEIR has been able to track, contrast and compare the performance of the exhibition industry. CEIR has also been able to develop a predictive model based on the study of past performance, and map that data using key metrics such as GDP and Non Farm Payroll – both proven indicators towards our future performance. This was the original framework for the CEIR Predict Conference and why it is so well regarded.

Despite a soft first quarter performance in GDP, the remainder of this year appears to be stronger, with projected growth delivering just under 2% growth for the industry. Of the four key metrics CEIR measures – Net Square Footage, Revenue, Attendance and Number of Exhibitors -attendance is by far showing the strongest performance. This is good news since attendance has a positive impact on the other three metrics and is typically a leading indicator.

This year, The Freeman Companies sponsored and curated the content of presentations that were facilitated by Ron Insana. CEIR Predict offered insights by expert industry panel members on eight of the 14 sectors CEIR tracks. Each sector presentation was led by my overview of how these sectors have performed over the years, and a brief outlook on what the data is telling us on their future. Almost all sectors are quite positive although as you can imagine, some maintain an outlook that is better than others. The content was rich, fast moving and everyone seemed to walk away with an enlightened outlook from numerous perspectives. It was a fast-paced day that delivered a unique experience to many of the CEOs in the room.

This year’s Predict title sponsor, Choose Chicago, did an outstanding job in helping us make a renewed difference for all the attendees that participated. Without question, GES and Visit Houston, longtime supporters of CEIR and Predict, also made significant contributions to the event. We could not have presented such a great experience without all of our sponsors.

While we have a fairly good idea of our future direction, it certainly is not an exact science. Without tools like the Census and Index, however, we have no chance of gaining a perspective on where we might be heading. Keep your eyes out for more information on not only this past Predict Conference, but next year’s conference scheduled for 17 September, 2015 in Chicago. I can say for certain, it gets better every year and next year will be a real winner and fruitful for those that invest and attend.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same – Even for Millennials Reply

By Warwick Davies, Principal, The Event Mechanic!

Who knew? While many assume that the younger generation has gone totally digital and social media focused, some new research suggests that you still need to include some traditional elements if you want your event to be successful. It seems that Millennials actually prefer some of the 20th century communications tools, despite our efforts to incorporate every newfangled technology into our conferences and trade shows.

This was part of the findings in the 2014 Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study, a recently-released survey of 300 young professionals conducted by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. Commissioned by the Society of Independent Show Organizers, the survey included attendees between the ages of 23 and 40 years old who had attended a B2B exhibition during the past two years.

Most importantly, the survey affirmed that exhibitions remain an important part of the marketing mix. In the B2B world, trade shows and conferences are still a good place to learn about new products or make a purchase decision. As to deciding whether to attend a particular event, email marketing remains an important component, arguably the most important component. Though there’s been a big push for social media, emails from event organizers represent the most trusted (37 percent of the survey population) and most used (58 percent) information sources; while just 13 percent used social media from show organizers as their primary source of information. So while it makes sense to pay attention to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other online venues, don’t lose sight of the role that traditional email can have on your event’s attendance numbers.

Once they’re on site, even though attendees may spend a lot of time on their smartphones, don’t presume that they’ll want to plan their event schedule that way. Printed show guides and conference agendas remain the preferred choice for 59 percent of the survey respondents. Only 26 percent indicated that they relied on a mobile app provided by the event host.

Maybe this means that it’s time to dust off our old marketing books about how to attract and serve an audience. Yes, the world is changing, but perhaps it’s also true that the more things change (in terms of social media and digital marketing tactics), the more some things will remain the same – even for Millennials.

CLICK HERE to download the full 2014 Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study.

Does Your Show Mobile App Deliver Value that Prompts Attendees to Use It? Reply

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Research Director

In the recently released CEIR report, 2014 Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study, sponsored by the Society of Independent Show Organizers, it is revealed that only a minority of young professionals, 26 percent, use a mobile app version of an exhibition program to plan and stay on schedule. These results are a big surprise. The adoption rate among young professionals is only two percent higher than what is recorded in the study looking at attendee needs and preferences in general, What Attendees Want from Trade Exhibitions.

And for non-users, the main reason isn’t because an app wasn’t available, only 21 percent say that is the reason. Instead more non-users either explain they prefer the paper version or dislike pulling down an app for a one time use or for this purpose in particular.

So, is this the final answer for mobile apps in the exhibition industry? I don’t think so. Mobile apps are relatively new to the exhibition industry scene. Though results suggest that to justify the investment in a mobile app, efforts are needed, perhaps user research, to help determine how to modify content in a way that makes an exhibition mobile app a “must use” resource when attending.

Or perhaps, if mobile apps over time are not used by enough attendees at a given event, is there another way to offer a digital version of an exhibition program that a majority of attendees will pull down and use actively when visiting? And is there content that will help drive content post-show?

In the short-term, why dismiss the power of the paper exhibition program? Are organizers abandoning too soon an option that offers ancillary revenue for their events? Recently in a session at the SISO Executive Leadership Conference in Atlantic City, Dan Goldstein, Director of Marketing & Communications at Integrated Systems Europe explained they have a printed show program; coupled with a digital edition that is highly successful in generating attendance, use on premise and sponsorship dollars.

Interestingly, at the time I was conducting the analysis for the young professionals study CEIR just released, I fell upon the following article from Fast Company. This article points to a video presentation at Google’s I/O conference, [where] Tomer Sharon, Google Search User Experience Researcher, broke down the age-old question: ‘Why is nobody using my app?’.

Tomer Sharon provides an outstanding overview on the best research approaches for mobile app development and testing. To access the article and video, visit:

http://www.fastcodesign.com/3033092/googles-6-reasons-why-nobody-uses-your-app

Planning for the Future Reply

By Mary Tucker, CEIR Blog Manager

“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” – Winston Churchill

Predict : CEIR’s Annual Exhibition Industry Outlook Conference will be held in three weeks at the Intercontinental Hotel Chicago, bringing together the exhibition industry’s best and brightest for a look at what the future holds and how to plan accordingly. Hosted by financial journalist Ron Insana and featuring keynote speakers Ryan Sweet and Marina Gorbis, more than 20 experts will discuss current and future trends applying to each industry sector as identified in CEIR’s annual Index Report.

The business market is constantly changing, which is what brings C-level executives to this one-day event. What we do know from recent data published in the 2014 CEIR Index Report this past March is this:

  • U.S. economic growth in 2013 slowed to only 1.9% compared to 2.8% in 2012.
  • Excluding the government, the economy expanded over 4.0% at an annual rate during the second half of 2013.
  • The consumer sector saw steady growth as personal consumption grew by 2.0% in the year, down only slightly from 2.2% in 2012.
  • In line with expectations explained in the 2012 CEIR Index Report, the CEIR Total Index increased by a modest 1.0% for 2013. Each metric saw positive growth. Net square feet (NSF) grew 0.8%, the number of exhibitors increased 0.5%, the number of attendees increased 2.0%, and real revenues grew 0.9%. The growth in number of attendees outpaced other metrics, and it continues a strong trend since the end of the recession in 2009.

While the economy really does constitute the bottom line, there are plenty of other considerations that go into creating an effective strategic plan. CEIR’s research provides an ongoing stream of information that can be used in planning and marketing your exhibition, such as:

If you can attend Predict on 11 September, you will experience a fast-paced, highly interactive program specifically designed for C-level strategists. But if Predict is not in your immediate future, CEIR has plenty of relevant, cutting-edge data available to assist in your planning, with plenty more on the way.

When Innovating – Protect and Enhance Valued Aspects of the F2F Marketing Experience Reply

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC
CEIR Research Director

Synergistic Power of Exhibitions GraphicI just returned from SISO’s Executive Leadership Conference that took place this week in Atlantic City. The venue, Revel, and the city did a wonderful job hosting this dynamic event. It was a privilege to be part of the conference program, where I was able to share key findings from the recently released CEIR report sponsored by SISO, the 2014 Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study. It was a pleasure to share the stage with leading researchers in the industry, and discuss lessons learned on how exhibition organizers can use research effectively for existing events as well as evaluate prospective opportunities.

The focus of this event brought different panelists to the stage who engaged in a variety of topics, yet a consistent theme developed of encouraging organizers in the room to think of ways to transform their businesses and to innovate, rather than stagnate, in efforts to maintain and grow their events.

This is an excellent call to action. However, with this focus that every exhibition organizer should be striving toward, I also encourage organizers to maintain focus. Don’t erode the core, intrinsic value of business-to-business exhibitions – the power and value of face-to-face interactions – with people and product. Innovate to enhance this core value, not diminish it. Innovation should magnify the power of a live event that brings people and product together in powerful and impactful ways that digital cannot.

CEIR research has shown that attendees and exhibitors identify exhibitions as the top ranked face-to-face setting of choice. It is number one for attendees and for exhibitors, it is tied for the top rank with in-person sales visits.

As discussed in the Digital Playbook, digital is a great medium to attract and promote an event. For those unable to attend, it offers a chance to peek in and view what is made available online. But it does not deliver the full experience of being there. And digital is a wonderful way to magnify the effect of content generated at an exhibition, a great opportunity to boost media impressions for the exhibition and its exhibitors, and an effective medium for engaging with participants throughout the year. But again, it’s important to keep one’s eye on the ball. The nexus – the core value of a physical event – is just that, the people in the room and the products that are being showcased.

Being at a well-produced event with like-minded individuals and peers, as well as meeting old colleagues and establishing connections with new ones is a precious opportunity. It sharpens the skills of those who attend, and arms them with ideas and potential solutions for current business challenges along with prospective products that can give their organizations a competitive edge. It also offers the chance to experience products showcased on an exhibition floor: see how they work, interact with the product and have discussions with exhibit staff that can answer questions on-the-spot, as well as engage with product users that can share their organization’s experience with the product or challenges/solutions they too are striving to resolve. As documented in What Attendees Want from Trade Exhibitions, these interactions are highly valued by attendees in general. Young professional attendees also consider these interactions a key reason to attend exhibitions, as is documented in the report CEIR released this week.

So when innovating, how can this core value be enhanced or how can detractors be minimized or eliminated? Isn’t this what iPad strove to do? In order to make the ‘experience’ of the iPad such that any technical glitches were minimized, Apple strove to offer a product where connection between the user and content was as easy and seamless as possible.

If you are an organizer, what about this analogy applies to your event? How can you:

  • Eliminate logistical glitches that can snag attendees on the show floor or get in the way of the exhibit floor experience?
  • Eliminate logistical glitches that make exhibiting difficult?
  • What innovations can ramp up the power of the attendee or exhibitor experience?
  • What settings can you offer to maximize the interactions between attendees and exhibitors, and across all types of participants?
  • Besides exhibit booths, what other settings can you create that enable attendees to interact and/or test drive products on the exhibition floor? Is a product demonstration area feasible?

As a researcher, I can keep listing questions with the ultimate aim of stimulating thought on areas meriting consideration for innovation. If you are an organizer, feel free add to the list and stimulate discussion. Your customers and event teams likely have ideas worth considering. As another CEIR blog’s message articulates, Creativity Leads to Engagement. Let the creativity and innovation flow! Though in doing so, don’t forget to keep your eye on the ball!