Nowadays, buyers can rely on the web instead of salespeople for information about products and services they’re considering. Exhibitions are just one of many options companies consider when developing marketing budgets. How do you ensure your event is still worth their investment in exhibiting, staff and travel expenses?
Your relationship with exhibitors begins with selling them a booth. But, a successful relationship depends upon helping exhibitors obtain the ROI they seek:
- Generating more leads
- New and deepened relationships with prospects, clients and industry partners
- Enhanced reputation as a thought-leader
- Brand awareness
- Product, market and industry insight from discussions with event visitors, clients and other attendees.
1. Educate and Prepare Exhibitors
Refrain from assuming that exhibitors are experts in occasion participation. Even pro exhibitors can take advantage of updated strategies and insights. To offer fees in this component:
- Share Valuable Resources: Create a dedicated segment to your event website with sources that help exhibitors put together successfully. Offer budgeting gear, cost manipulation recommendations, and strategic planning physical games with counseled timelines. For example, you could provide exhibitors with articles, webinars, and workbooks on social media techniques and exhibition sales staff workshops.
- Training on Event Technology: Include obligatory or non-compulsory video tutorials on how to use the event technology provided to exhibitors to collect and manage leads. This ensures that exhibitors can maximise the advantages of the generation you offer.
2. Provide Attendee Information (Responsibly)
Empower exhibitors with treasured attendee records without compromising attendee privacy. During the registration period, you can request valuable information in required fields, such as:
- Job function
- Years in profession
- Type of company
- Number of employees
- Annual budget or revenue
- Role in purchasing process
- Product/ service interests
Possibly even more valuable is the information you can share with exhibitors about what attendees do during the show. For example: how long they spend in the exhibition area Vs listening to speakers, who checked for specific interactions such as demos or educational sessions, and who visited their page or downloaded material on the post-event microsite.
3. Pay Special Attention to First-Time Exhibitors
First-time exhibitors regularly want extra guidance and steerage to maximise their participation. You need to help them prepare for the show:
- Onboarding Experience: Implement an onboarding process that familiarises them with the audience and purchasing patterns which differ from other professions and industries. Share what attendees may value or want to know about perspective industry partners.
- Introduce them to your event: Provide a list of the previous year’s popular session topics, exhibits and trends that you noticed. Describe the event customs and traditions as well as highlights of previous shows – social and educational experiences and any other information you think that a first-timer would find useful. Suggest ways they can better understand this audience and add value to the attendee experience.
4. Offer Enhanced Services and Opportunities
Enhance exhibitor experience and ease of working with you by providing more excellent offerings and possibilities, including:
- Preferred Suppliers: Many exhibitors are lost of where to go when looking for exhibition stand, furniture, or AV suppliers – give them a helping hand by appointing a small selection of trusted suppliers that can help them.
- Exhibitor-Led Education: Since attendees would rather be educated than sold to offer exhibitors the chance to pay for the privilege of providing education on the show floor. For example, small industry theatres or on-stand education, practical workshops, and guru bars.
- Concierge Service: If you have exhibitors traveling long-distance to attend your show, it may be an idea to offer support with travel, accommodation and entertainment services to take the stress off things!
- Exhibitor Webinars: Organise a pre-show webinar which educates your exhibitors on the “How To’s” of your event. It provides a personal touch and allows exhibitors to ask their questions, as well as others to listen in and pick up on tips they hadn’t even thought of. It will also make your life easier with exhibitors ordering their essentials and getting some major questions answered at one time!
5. Connect Exhibitors with Decision-Makers
Every exhibitor hopes they will get the opportunity to take to and make a good impression with the purchasing decision-makers. But, too often the people they want to meet – the C-suite executives who sign the cheques – aren’t at your show.
Consider one of these options for bringing exhibitors and buyers together:
- Scheduled Meetings: Organise meetings for exhibitors with key-decision makers in a “speed networking” style format which will allow people to engage in an elevator style pitch fashion. Provide a platform for exhibitors and buyers to request and timetable conferences, fostering valuable connections. Give company buyers complimentary show passes to entice them to attend your event.
- VIP Experiences: Why not host an invitation-only event for decision-makers at top companies the day before the show opens? Offer exhibitors the chance to pay to participate and schedule meetings for each exhibitor to meet the buyer from visiting companies. Free food, free drink and an upmarket venue will help make the event feel that little bit more exclusive.
- Set Up an Advisory Group: An exhibitor advisory group, comprised of both exhibitors and buyers, can make recommendations for improving the event experience. As the show organiser, you can facilitate education and relationships, both on and off the show floor. If you give exhibitors and attendees the value they seek, your event will be on their schedule year after year.
By implementing these innovative strategies, you will ensure that exhibitors get more value out of the event, make stronger relationships, and improve your retention of clients re-booking for the next show. Exhibitors who see a clear ROI of their participation are much more likely to come to be long-time partners, ensuring the success and sustainability of your event.