Exhibitions are often the single most costly form of promotion for any technology company. It’s not unusual to spend up to a third of each years’ marketing budget on just three or four days at an event. Fortunately, well-planned pre-event activity will maximise ROI and payback.
Exhibitions are a powerful form of branding and lead generation because they both promote the company name and allow you to talk to potential buyers directly on the booth. However, high stand traffic does not happen by accident – you can’t take a “build it and they will come” attitude.
One thing that many companies get wrong is the pre-show or preview announcement – either by not sending one out at all or sending one out too late. Many of those that do send out a preview announcement on time fail to make the content interesting enough to generate coverage. A well-timed and interesting preview press release will almost certainly generate coverage during the run-up to the event, encouraging people to come and see you when they plan their visit. Ideally your show preview release should be issued between two months and six weeks in advance of the event itself.
What’s more, modern exhibition campaigns go beyond the traditional media and demand that all social media and networking platforms be used. Pre-event blogs, simple teaser videos and hashtag tweets can all work wonders in racking up attention. See this infographic for some potential suggestions.
And if you want to arrange press meetings during a show your target editors will also need to be contacted well in advance. Editors are rarely busier than when they are at an exhibition and they have to plan their itineraries to the minute. As a result they need to assess what value they are going to get out of a meeting with your company and they need to be able to schedule the meeting into their diaries – inviting them to ‘drop by your stand for a coffee and a chat’ simply won’t work!
If contacting all the press you would like to meet sounds too time consuming, we have a solution – Pinnacle’s strong relationships with the European media have enabled the agency to compile some great value packages for electronica 2014.
Think beyond PR and social media
There are numerous ways to encourage stand traffic. Competitions, for example, can work well by offering a suitably appealing prize in exchange for a business card, while direct marketing has a role to play too.
Consider an email campaign to buyers in specific target markets for example – and follow-up with reminders. Alternatively, make a call extending a personal invitation to the stand. Here, deliver a compelling reason to come along; focus on problem-solving and providing real value rather than just pitching products. Also, don’t forget to ask strategic partners, distributors and international agents to invite mutual clients and prospects.
Last, but by no means least, it is always good practice to set objectives for what you want to get from the exhibition and then measure success against those objectives once the event is over. For example, how many leads do you expect to get from your investment? How many customer meetings should take place? What value of editorial coverage do you want to see from the spend on PR support around the show?
By answering these questions the real value of attending the show can be ascertained – and the decision of whether or not to attend the next one can be justified.
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