How to Pack a Punch When Exhibiting

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, CEIR Research Director

When exhibiting, is it enough to buy space, put together a booth and show up? Well, chances are, that will not be enough. Efforts are needed before the event, on-site and following the event to maximize results.

Before discussing what type of on-site activities will help boost the impact of exhibiting, let’s first itemize some basic “must do’s”:

  • Choose where to exhibit wisely. Does it have the right attendees? Are they a good fit in terms of delivering the prospects for one’s organization?
  • Once an exhibition is selected, are goals set for exhibiting? Are metrics put in place against these goals to evaluate the success of exhibiting?
  • Are pre-event promotions undertaken? Has messaging gone out to pre-registrants when a list is available – or better yet, a list of the specific categories of attendees – one most wants to reach? Are marketing efforts undertaken inviting known prospects, encouraging them to attend the exhibition and visit one’s booth? Invitations from exhibitors are a highly regarded information source that helps influence attendees when deciding whether to attend an exhibition, according to CEIR’s report on Attracting Attendees.
  • What efforts are taken to follow-up with leads captured at the exhibition? How quickly is follow-up taken? For insights on common practices and what is considered most effective, take a look at the report, Sales Lead Capture and Follow-up Trends.

Ok, assuming all these basic steps are followed, what on-site marketing activities at the exhibition help maximize the impact and success of exhibiting?

  • An absolute necessity is assuring that one has a listing in the exhibition program. In Attracting Attendees, it is found that most attendees, 94%, engage in some kind of pre-event planning. Over half, 56%, search the exhibitor directory to help identify booths to visit.
  • What Attendees Want from Trade Exhibitions reveals that top ranked important reasons why professionals go to exhibitions are to keep abreast of industry trends and have a chance to talk with industry experts. Therefore it is not surprising in the study of exhibitor on-site marketing practices that the most effective activity in helping exhibitors achieve their goals is speaking at an educational seminar/workshop. What a great way to project one’s organization as a thought leader by running a session. In the report Exhibitor Ancillary On-site Marketing Practices, 71% of surveyed exhibitors indicate doing this and among those who do, 86% say this effort is effective in helping them meet their overall goals for participating. Pretty compelling results.
  • This report provides insights on other commonly used on-site marketing activities and perceived effectiveness in helping exhibitors meet their goals. To read the full report, go to: http://www.ceir.org/store_products.view.php?id=2554

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