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HITMC 2018 Takeaways Slides

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Always Leave Them Wanting More


 

How to Get the Most Out of Trade Shows & Events

 

If you find value in rubbing elbows with opinion leaders, peers and potential partners, you’ve already demonstrated the unique value of trade show and event marketing.  After all, what other medium gives you the opportunity to speak face-to-face with industry experts, learn about the latest innovations and ultimately forge business relationships – hopefully for decades to come.

 

Research backs this up. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), an independent think-tank, 99% of marketers believe trade shows provide potential that isn’t available in other mediums. CEIR also reports that 76% of attendees identify face-to-face meetings as a critical factor in building awareness and long-term connections.

 

Your presence at these key events speaks volumes for your strategy, innovation, credibility and thought leadership. Making a business case to incorporate trade shows and events into your overall marketing mix is a logical and powerful decision.

 

Be Prepared. How do you implement an outcome-oriented trade show and event marketing program? Success is in the details, with considerations like:

 

  • Strategy. Why are you doing this? What events make the most sense? What does the competitive landscape look like, both on and off the show floor? Who will you be targeting – KOLs, IT professionals, C-suite execs, end users? How will you craft the journey through your unique solutions? How will integrated marketing, sponsorships, PR and social media be used to promote your brands?
  • Engagement. What key messages do you want your strategically-defined target audience to walk away with? How will you tell that story – before, during and after the event? How will printed graphics and digital technology convey that message?
  • Environment. What supporting architecture do you need? How will you draw attenntion from a distance and truly stand out on a crowded show floor? What statement does your environment make about your brand as you bring it to life in three dimensions? How will you maintain consistency of brand across your event calendar? Is there a better way to build that will increase impact and/or lower costs for you?
  • Metrics and Training. What does success look like? How will you prove-up that success? Who will represent your brands? How will you prepare your great staff to make the most of every contact?

Putting It All Together. Your company’s strategic plan is ground zero for every element of your marketing mix – and trade shows and events are no exception. Great strategy drives focus and establishes a framework for telling your brand story. It also provides the impetus for ensuring consistency of brand across every face-to-face marketing opportunity your calendar affords.

 

Ultimately, your goal is to create the ideal visitor experience targeted to each unique segment you will meet on the event floor. This is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. You may be telling one story, but it needs to speak to each audience segment directly for maximum value.

 

How, where, when and why you implement specific engagement tactics into integrated marketing efforts that support your trade show or event presence can significantly enhance your outcomes.

 

  • Pre-event. Ideally, that dialogue will begin well before the doors open. CEIR reports that 76% of attendees plan their agenda based on the pre-show information they receive. Further, CEIR notes that conversion from casual visitor to qualified lead increases by 50% when pre-show marketing is used.

Pre-show communication runs the gamut from email blasts to dimensional direct mail, social media and more. A customized destination page tied to your website can provide a powerful call-to-action for your prospects to anticipate the lay of the land, obtain more information or even set an on-site appointment with your staff.

 

  • On-site. Whether you are looking for an escorted journey or pointed self-discovery, your on-site experience is where the rubber meets the road. What will draw qualified traffic into your booth? And once there, how will your prospect interact with your story and migrate through your sales funnel?

This is where the strategy of creating the ideal visitor experience truly pays off. A well-defined journey enables you to qualify leads as they move deeper through your brand. Great strategy not only provides for engaging potential leads – but for politely disengaging traffic that isn’t a good fit. It recognizes the value of dialogue and peer-to-peer sharing in building your thought leadership on and off the floor. And it respects your staff – helping them make the most of the limited time they have with each contact. It leaves everyone feeling good about the experience and wanting more. That’s the stuff great relationships are made of.

 

  • Post-event. Think about the trade shows and events you personally have attended. What experiences stood out? Probably the ones where the companies you engaged with followed up after the doors closed. This is where many trade show and event strategies fall short – and possibly the most critical link in the chain.

Your lead management strategy must have an effective means of reaching out to qualified leads post-event. Depending on the complexity of your sales cycle, this could range from a personal phone call or visit to a well-crafted nurture campaign that provides a compelling reason to keep your brand in front of potential clients for months to come. On-line newsletters, white papers, staff or patient educational resources and interactive surveys provide a value-laden rationale for your dialogue to continue.

 

The value of trade shows and event marketing is clear. How you make the most of each opportunity is something that you and your experience marketing partner can challenge together.

 

Remember the rules. Engage early. Engage often. And always leave your audience wanting more.

 

About the Author

Rob Majerowski, VP New Business Strategy, MG.

 

Rob has actively supported the trade show and events industry for over 25 years. He has collaborated with clients to design solutions that make the most of every opportunity where brand and audience meet. Rob is a valued partner and advisor to clients who seek to apply his strategic and analytical expertise to the entire business process.

 

About mg. Recently recognized by EXHIBITOR magazine’s inaugural Find It – Top 40 as an industry thought leader, mg is your single all-inclusive partner for every experience marketing need. Far more than an “exhibit house,” mg flourishes at every intersection of brand and audience. Discover our broad portfolio of imaginative exhibits, corporate events, branded environments and marketing engagements at www.simplymg.com or in the exhibitor area at HITMC 2018.