Exhibits at trade shows are a strange breed. The best spots generally go to companies who have long track records for exhibiting at the show. Frequently these are not only premium floor placements but also the larger exhibits. So what's a first time exhibitor to do when you're stuck in a less than desireable spot, can't afford a mega-booth and need to make contact with attendees? The answer is promote, promote, promote your presence in advance. Think about it: the average trade show attendee doesn't know that space 2301 is a less desirable space than 231--or vice versa, depending on the hall. Before the show, the trade show is an even playing field. Create social media buzz before the show opens; social media, for all we hear about it, requires work but little cash outlay. Create a special e-newsletter to send to clients and prospects that are already in your data base, and if show management has captured pre-registration email contacts, the value of that list is definitely worth whatever the price.Get on the phone and call hot prospects or people you certainly wish to see at the show. Even if you leave a well-scripted voice mail message, you are raising awareness. Consider spending the money on a 'room drop'--a special invitation delivered directly to attendees' hotel rooms. There are many ways to connect before the show that are only limited by your imagination!
It seems that every day a new study comes out telling us that it’s virtually (pun intended) to plan an event without planning a social media strategy. This emphasis on building a social media strategy can be daunting if not downright intimidating. Here are a few things you can do to build awareness for your event; they’re easy and pretty intuitive if you’re like most of us who are familiar with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
1. Create a Facebook page for your event. This is the page where people hit a “like” button so that your event updates are posted on their Facebook pages. For optimal exposure, use this with an event page that issues an invitation.
2. An event page on Facebook, besides giving all the relevant details, issues an invitation to people. You can add people to your event page and incorporate a link to a site, such as EventBrite that allows people to sign up and pay fees in advance. See the January 2010 issue of Successful Meetings for more on-line registration resources.
3. Post the event to your LinkedIn groups pages. (You do belong to groups, right?) You have pre-established communities already interested in your field. You can also post the event to your own LinkedIn page and generate enthusiasm among your contacts, but specific groups give you a head start.
4. Start to Twitter by creating a hashtag for your event. Then promote it and encourage others to promote your event via Twitter, particularly if they plan to attend your event. Pre-show promotions via Twitter offering some sort of incentive, like reduced fees, work very well.
5. Be sure that you include your social media links on all your pre-event promotion as well as on your event website.
As we go into 2011, Facebook has now surpassed Google as the most visited site on the web. Facebook, the ultimate social networking site, has surpassed all of its competitors, and this has happened in spite of predictions about its demise and the frequent changes that draw the wrath of many of its loyal users.
As event planners, there are lessons we can learn from the success of Facebook:
· People want to connect, and they want to connect in a meaningful way around topics that are of genuine interest to them.
· People want an experience that goes beyond focusing on predictable topics and moves into speculation and possibilities.
· Even though we hear complaints about changes that signal progress, eventually these changes are incorporated, and we reach the next stage of interaction.
· The original charter for Facebook was limited to college students; making something appear exclusive creates a demand for membership.
Event planners have the advantage of creating face-to-face opportunities, something Facebook doesn’t provide but does facilitate. Events give attendees not only educational opportunities but also the chance to explore new interests and future hot topics. Event planners can push the envelope when it comes to presentation styles and challenge speakers to find new formats to reach their audiences. And finally, event planners shouldn’t fear change; change keeps us growing and responding to our constituencies.
Well, we’ve finally got some respect! U.S. News & World Report listed “meeting planner” as one of its 50 best careers for 2011. According to the article,
The increasingly global nature of commerce kept meeting planners on their toes during the boom years: There were plenty of off-site corporate events, trade shows, and association meetings to put together. But the recession killed corporate budgets, and off-site meetings in Las Vegas became unfortunately associated with corporate excess. Today's meeting planners have to be tougher and willing to negotiate for lower costs and better perks. They also have to be willing to face tough questions about budgets and return on investment. But most organizations recognize the value of the face-to-face meeting—as not just a perk but an imperative for companies that have greater global reaches
More good news for event planners: Employment of meeting and convention planners...is expected to grow faster than the average for all professions over the next decade or so, with the Labor Department predicting that the number of jobs will jump 16 % because of the importance in meetings at global companies. And according to all the sources, nothing beats real life, on your feet experience to build skills.
MARIETTA, GA (DECEMBER 2010) – Plan Ahead Events, a full service event management company, announces a new location at 1000 Whitlock Avenue under the ownership of local residents Don Burton, Ron Burton and Candice Medellin.
Each owner comes to Plan Ahead Events of Marietta with a diverse background and experience with various elements of event planning. With 20 years experience in healthcare administration, Don planned a variety of events including conferences and educational meetings as well as galas, award banquets and golf tournaments. Candice served as a liaison for community events while coordinating campaign and congressional activities as the scheduler for a United States congressional campaign. Additionally, as a teacher for a local private school, Candice planned and coordinated many interscholastic events, trips, award banquets and meetings. With 15 years of non-profit and religious organizational leadership experience, Ron has organized, planned and managed hundreds of events from humanitarian relief efforts to informal conferences and weddings.
“We were ready to put our diverse experiences in planning events to good use in such a growing and exciting area for business as metro Atlanta,” said Don.
Plan Ahead Events is the world’s largest full-service meetings and event management company, servicing clientele worldwide. It provides full-service management and planning for meetings, conventions, trade shows, special events and incentive travel. The Company is part of United Franchise Group (www.unitedfranchisegroup.com), a specialist in franchise development and services.For information about Plan Ahead Events of Marietta, please contact the team at (678) 615- 0907 or visit www.planaheadevents-marietta.com. For franchising information, please call (800) 466- 2812 or visit www.planaheadevents.com.
Who knew that, in our lifetime, the future King of England would marry into an event planning family?
What happens when the royal family meets the force of the event industry? Richard Levy takes a humorous look at the much anticipated royal wedding and at the credibility it gives to all of us in the event industry. Yes, event planning is really a profitable, respectable business. http://tinyurl.com/28cc88p