If You Are at EXHIBITORLIVE Next Week, Join Me If You Can!

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, CEIR Research Director

I look forward to attending and participating in EXHIBITORLIVE! next week. It is always a privilege to conduct sessions with the high caliber brand marketers who travel to this event.

Next week’s lectures will focus on two important topic areas:

Do You Have a Digital Playbook for Your Exhibit Program?

This session looks at trends and approaches to integrating digital into an exhibit program. Adam Polaszewski, my colleague and co-presenter always brings great energy and passion to this discussion.

Align Your Face-to-Face Interactions with What Attendees Value Most

This is a topic area where exhibitors can never rest on their laurels, as it is important to keep a pulse on attendees’ most urgent needs and assure the exhibiting approach is positioned to hit their value meter. Doing so creates that opportunity to connect, converting a lead to an interested prospect and ultimately sales. This year’s session evaluates attendee needs in general as well as young professional needs and preferences. What I love about this session is the brainstorming element, where brand marketers share their experiences and ideas on how to ramp up their game. It is a fun way to take advantage of face-to-face interactions, and the power in learning it can deliver!

So if you’re at the EXHIBITORLIVE next week, come join me at one of the sessions. Or visit the IAEE booth, at 1709.

Also, we will be releasing a new report, The Marketing Spend Decision, at EXHIBITORLIVE on Tuesday morning. Stop by the EDPA booth (#859) or the IAEE booth (#1709) for a copy of the Executive Summary of the report.

Or if you are in between sessions and are on Level 3 on Monday, come visit me at the Smart Bar between the hours of 10 am and 11 am.

Top Five Reasons Why Young Professionals Offer Exhibitions an Exciting Future

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, CEIR Research Director

CEIR research with young professionals suggests an exciting future awaits business-to-business exhibitions and exhibitors that deliver the content they crave. Here are the top five reasons for this position:

POE 14.02 Figure 18Reason #1: Young professional attendees have a strong connection to the exhibition channel, 98% identify one or more high value takeaways from attending.

The most popular takeaways reflect the best of what exhibitions have to offer: keeping informed of leading trends/new products; gaining a deeper understanding of available products/services; interacting and seeing a wide variety of products and meeting with a large number of vendors in a short time period.

Reason #2: Most professionals who attend an exhibition plan to visit again. 93% say it is likely they will attend exhibitions in the next several years.

Reason #3: When it comes to walking an exhibition floor – it’s all about engagement. Young professionals are accustomed to immersive, interactive face-to-face entertainment settings. Those who walk the floor want to engage with the product (80%), booth staff (84%), and the booth offerings (87%).

Reason #4: Mobile devices are a broadcast media boon opportunity for organizers and exhibitors. Half come armed with their mobile device to help them record and process what they are experiencing. The most popular activity is taking pictures to look at or share with others.

Reason #5: Like attendees in general, young professionals come to shop (86%) and learn (83%), and they also attend for the EXPERIENCE (67%). The emotive aspect of attending is important, 44% of young professionals seek inspiration and motivation to help them advance their organization’s and personal career objectives. This quest is a call to action to organizers to step it up and assure content delivers on this goal.

There are many more reasons why young professionals’ wants and preferences speak to a bright future for the industry. Click here to download the full report.

To read about what organizers are doing to attract and retain young professional, click here.

Big Data and Analytics: Hype or Opportunity?

Stephanie Hedlund, Director, Customer Insights & Analytics
Diversified Communications

As Expo! Expo! 2014 fast approaches, I’ve been reflecting on my first visit to the event 7 years ago atThe Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Concurrent with Expo! Expo!, also at the Mandalay Bay, was the National Conference on Database Marketing. I attended both events and, being the numbers geek that I am, wondered if there was anyone else doing the same. What was the cross-over percentage? If I were marketing one of these events, how would I have identified potential targets for both? Would the conference organizers even want an attendee to go to both events? Then I found the Red Square Lounge’s vodka vault and haven’t mused much about that since.

But today, if a data or analytics conference was happening in downtown Los Angeles, I bet that cross-over percentage would be a lot higher. You can’t escape the conversation – big data, analytics, marketing automation, data-driven sales, the list goes on and on. For event producers, how can we leverage the data we have and turn it into actionable insights for marketing or sales or operations or even our customers? For the many companies selling their products into the event industry, how can we prove the ROI on our product, how can we make the data we collect easy to access and use? Data is at the root of many conversations of our day-to-day professional (and personal) lives.

Conference session spoiler alert! There’s a lot of opportunity with your data. Yes, the data you have right now. No, you don’t necessarily need to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to take advantage of it. You do, however, need to think about the right strategic questions to ask of your data and the right-size approach for your company. More and more data is available and easier to access but so are tools to harness your data’s potential and those tools are getting more affordable and easier to implement.

Find out what other event producers are doing with their data and get some ideas from a few fantastic case studies. I hope you’ll join Jeff Stanley of Exhibit Surveys, Nancy Drapeau of CEIR and myself for Thursday’s session on Big Data and Analytics. Opportunity awaits. FMI go here.

Email – Consistent and Reliable Performance – The Duct Tape of the Digital Marketing Toolkit

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Research Director

I know the title of this blog is a little tongue and cheek though I think the analogy holds, no pun intended. I used this analogy at a recent session at EXHIBITORFastTrak in Atlanta, it resonated with attendees and so I want to share it with you in this blog.

Think about it, duct tape is a versatile, consistent performer in addressing so many needs – whether to repair a boat cover, bicycle seat, vacuum hose or whatever else, it is often a solution that does the job well. It even was used to repair the lunar rover during Apollo 17!

The same is true of email. It is a versatile and consistent performer, according to results of a number of CEIR studies. Despite the onslaught of new, digital marketing tactic alternatives, email still serves an important role in the exhibition marketing mix for both organizers and exhibitors. Here are a few examples:

  • In the Digital Playbook, email is found to be a top performer for both organizers and exhibit brand marketers for cost containment and revenue generation. It is the most popular tactic used in exhibition marketing (86% of business-to-business exhibition organizers, 86% of business-to-consumer exhibition organizers and 84% of brand marketers). The popularity and effectiveness of email is documented in earlier CEIR research.
  • The use and effectiveness of email in organizer marketing efforts to drive attendance is noted in the recently released report, Cost to Attract Attendees.
  •  These results make sense, and align with the resources prospective attendees rely on when searching for prospective exhibitions to attend. According to Attracting Attendees, email from different sources – colleagues, organizers and exhibitors – are in the top 10 important information resources relied upon by them.
  • And for young professionals, according to The Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study Report released this past August, email from organizers and vendors is relied on and trusted more than content from social media when hunting for prospective exhibitions to attend. Emails from colleagues is also a more used and trusted resource for this purpose than social media.

Now the consistent performance of email does NOT mean it is wise for brand marketers and exhibition organizers to indiscriminately use this tactic for any and all purposes. Over emailing will fatigue a list, this is a longstanding rule and is just plain common sense. If anything, it speaks to the high importance of using email lists carefully and strategically. Marketing needs to assure that content is valuable to the recipients and that the number of emails is managed carefully, to avoid the spam filter and ‘block sender’ classifications.

Let me close in sharing an example of the strategic use of email that one of the EXHIBITORFastTrak attendees explained. This exhibiting company, in striving to avoid blast emails and at the same time striving to promote their participation at an upcoming exhibition, included an invitation to register to attend the exhibition as a part of the signature at the end of the email. It was a click thru link to the exhibition’s registration site. The email was sent from sales staff as a follow-up to a phone call. Interestingly, the exhibitor was paid by the exhibition organizer for any individuals who registered and attended the exhibition. This email campaign approach was a ‘win-win’ for the exhibitor and exhibition.

Trends on Integrating Digital in Exhibit Programs – Join Me in Atlanta Next Week

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Director of Research

I am looking forward to sharing trends with brand marketers who are attending EXHIBITOR FastTrak next week in Atlanta. This session offers an intense 1.5 hour discussion of current trends in the use of digital tactics in exhibit marketing programs. Along with sharing research insights, this session includes case study examples and peer-to-peer discussions. Adam Polaszewski, Director of Marketing at INXPO, will dial in and share his personal experience using digital tactics that generated outstanding results in meeting overall objectives for his company.

Which digital tactics are most popular and tend to deliver the most consistent results? Are companies abandoning traditional tactics entirely in favor of digital alternatives? How does a company magnify the power of the face-to-face marketing experience with digital tactics? Well, come to the session and find out. I look forward to sharing these trends and case studies that will help exhibitors determine whether their digital approaches are in line with what is found to work best or whether adjustments are needed. If you’re in Atlanta next week, it’s still not too late to register. I hope to see you there!



Booth Staff Attendee Engagement Techniques that Help Maximize Lead Generation

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 value 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

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.