Once of the elements of meetings and conventions that captures the imagination of attendees is the notion of "swag" - free stuff, often useful and sometimes expensive, given out as gifts or promotions. Hardened industry veterans of a thousand press conferences will drop their air of experience and claw through a crowd for a free tote bag; there's just something appealing about free stuff.
Planning events takes time, thought and effort—and for a really successful event, hiring an event planner to help is a must!—but the pay-off is worth it, simply because at events you have the opportunity to meet with your customers and a have a real, human face to face interaction. Writing in Forbes, Dave Lavinsky points out some of the advantages of events that nothing else can provide:
Read the entire article here.
Why should you invest in face to face events when you can save time and money with virtual events and on-line seminars.? Here’s why!
1. Learning occurs through a variety of options: lectures, panel presentations, hands-on workshops, inspirational keynotes, and other unique opportunities, such as tweet-ups. You can pick a session in whatever style suits your learning needs. And don’t forget about the informal learning that happens in the in-between moments of an in-person event, during meals or waiting for a presentation to begin.
2. There are fewer distractions at face to face events. Have you ever attended an online event only to be interrupted by people stopping in your office, phone calls, emails or meetings? Even though almost everything is on demand these days, carving out time at your office to watch an hour presentation is difficult. When you book yourself a ticket out of town and turn on your “out of office” reply, you attend the event and focus on learning and networking.
3. You share in the energy and excitement of other fellow attendees. Nothing replaces a face-to-face conversation, not even Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Having the time to talk to your peers, both in your industry and in other industries, gives you insight into what other people are doing and lets you benchmark best practices. You find that you aren’t the only one facing a particular challenge, and you just might find a way to apply what someone else is doing to your own situation.
4. You get to connect with the presenters. At in-person events, you get access to speakers and experts. You often have opportunities to sit down with industry experts at lunch, round table discussions, or one-on-one consulting sessions. The input received from asking specific questions in person gives you an edge you can’t get from a virtual event or online seminar
Though online technologies and social networks are critical to the way we work and have opened up countless new opportunities, we’re still human. Whether we’re working out problems with a colleague, closing a sale, or networking, better rapport is established in person.
If you work for a company or own your own business the choices are endless when deciding how you can market and promote products. However, one of the most effective, simply because it is a face to face experience, is exhibiting at a trade show.
There are many resources that tell you how to make the most of your trade show investment, but for the first time exhibitor, the following tips will not overwhelm and will help keep it simple.
1. Get to know trade shows; visit a few before you embark on exhibiting. Study what exhibitors are doing, and learn about the rules that are part of any exhibiting venture, whether those are labor rules, organizer rules, or industry rules.
2. Bring your best sales people to staff the booth. Tell them to expect the unexpected since trade show visitors are random and encourage them to think on their feet, to use their best field sales skills, and to be confident.
3. Do pre-show marketing. Let customers and prospects know that you will be at the tradeshows and encourage them to put you on their must see lists. You can let them know via email, print ads, or any one of many communication vehicles, including calling important customers and prospects before the show to alert them to the fact that you will be at the show. Give them your booth number so they can find you.
4. Make sure your exhibit is simple and clearly tells visitors the name of your company and what products and services you offer. Make sure you have plans in place to erect the display before you get to the show floor. If you need to hire labor, do that early.
5. Spend quality time with customers and prospects. Tell your sales team not to spend time talking to friends, competitors, or other visitors who are not your target market. Exhibiting at trade shows is an investment, so make it worth your while.
6. Establish ‘next steps.’ Take visitors’ information and develop a follow up plan in the exhibit. What will you do after the show? Get agreement on the process. Ask for opt-in permission so you can contact them to keep them up to date on your new offerings.
7. Because you have all your important prospects and customers in one place, trade shows present an excellent opportunity to entertain. Make dinner appointments in advance, or if you have a group of people you want to entertain, contact an event planning company like Plan Ahead Events to help you with a cost effective, memorable way to reach your market.
If you exhibit at a trade show, you’ll find it an easy, effective way of promoting your products to potential new consumers. Following these simple tips is a good start to trade show success.
Exhibiting is expensive, especially for a small business, and when comparing your efforts to the larger companies surrounding you, it’s hard not to worry about getting lost in the shuffle. Here are five free ways you can stand out as an exhibitor by investing a little extra time and attention (instead of cash) to impress your target audience.
1 – Revise your company description
Your company description (often included for free in online and printed event directories produced by show management) is the most overlooked opportunity to effectively market your company. Attendees plan their time on the show floor according to these listings. Stand out by taking full advantage of your presence within this resource. Hook your target audience with a great opening, highlight your unique offerings, and make yourself easy to find by providing clear contact information.
2 – Cut the clutter
Organize your booth to minimize distractions and allow your company’s offerings to shine. Remove unnecessary furnishings (like trash cans and chairs) and don’t bother bringing redundant literature or boring giveaways. Don't put barriers across your booth (like long counter tables) that separate you from attendees. If you have trained your staff properly, the attendees who come into your booth will be focused on your offerings and remember your company positively for your clear message.
3 – Say hello
It doesn’t cost anything to maintain a positive attitude for full show hours and warmly greet each of the attendees walking by your booth. Remember that trade shows provide sensory and information overload to the attendees. If you don’t say anything, your target audience might not even notice you’re there. When you choose to engage those passing by, you provide them with an extra opportunity to become aware of your company and its offerings.
4 – Maximize your time outside of the booth
Even when you aren’t working in your booth, be present outside of set show hours. Attendees will notice and see that you care about participating in the event and that you are interested in strengthening connections. In order to accomplish this, you will need to schedule your time before you arrive – set appointments with clients, prospects, or partners for each of your meals, review the event agenda to select networking functions and educational sessions to attend, and plan to spend any free time in the hotel lobby or other areas where you are likely to encounter attendees. Also, keep a copy of your schedule in the booth so that additional meetings can be added on the fly.
5 – Follow up
Rumor has it that 80% of leads obtained at trade shows do not receive any follow up contact. This means that you will stand out from most of the other exhibitors just by taking whatever time is necessary to reach out to your visitors after the event has concluded. I recommend creating a plan before you leave for your trade show so that you will be able to jump right into calling, emailing, or using other methods to follow up immediately upon your return.
The best way for a small companies to stand out amongst all of the larger exhibitors participating in your event is to invest extra time, not money, in your exhibiting efforts.