We are delighted to welcome our new team member Christina Haigh. In her first blog for us she explains why we should be considering event marketing into the mix as a way to connect with our target audience. Here is what she had to say:
With smartphones, tablets in regular use and WIFI in every coffee shop or public space, there are a myriad of different ways to digitally connect with our target audience. Nevertheless – particularly for a small business, where customer relationships are more personal – there’s nothing like actually getting out there and meeting our target audience face to face. Whether it be a trade fair at the NEC, a regional business exhibition, a food festival, a flower show, craft or wedding fair, village fete or the school bazaar, there are a few key things you can do during the crucial planning stages, to make sure your event delivers what you’d hoped for.
- As ever, good marketing starts with clear objectives: define them according to SMART principles eg: Specific Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bounded; and you’ll be able to see exactly how well it has worked for you afterwards. Success can be defined in many ways eg: leads gained, orders taken, newsletter sign-ups, entrants to a competition or new social media followers. Less tangible objectives, such as brand-building and awareness creation, are equally valid though more subjective: an event can be a great platform to launch a new product or service.
- Think Location, Location, Location. Most events will have a floorplan and if you plan far enough in advance, you should have a reasonable choice of where your stand will be located. Go for a spot with the maximum visibility and footfall along main thoroughfares, on the way to, or in visibility of, a refreshment area or main entrance. If held in conjunction with a conference, make sure you’re located en-route to the conference hall where presentations are taking place. Outside corners of two thoroughfares offer good, prominent locations too.
- Plan well in advance how you’re going to use your space. Some events provide a table plus tablecloth and signage, but if you have more space available, then a pop-up stand or banners could be the best way to attract visitors. A tablet or laptop on-stand could offer the slickest means of demonstrating products and services to visitors as well as capture leads and take orders, but if appropriate, make sure you take enough literature, business cards and samples so that you won’t run out. When collecting new customer data, be mindful of GDPR regulations: visitors need to be clear on what you’re collecting their data for, how it will be used and how long you will keep it. Data should only be kept as long as it is needed, must be accurate and held securely.
- Content: The fact that you’ll be at a forthcoming event is a great opportunity to communicate with past, existing and potential clients, especially if the event is a launch platform for a new product or service. Use blog-posts, your e-newsletters and harness social media in the run-up as a “call-to-action” for your target customers to visit your stand. Perhaps you can incentivise them with an offer or discount – and don’t forget PR opportunities in your industry or profession’s press and online publications. If there are particular customers you’re targeting at the event, why not contact them up-front to make an appointment to meet you there?
- Make it fun! If it’s your children’s school fete, then that’s a bit of a no-brainer, but there’s no reason why you can’t inject a bit of fun into the most serious trade event or conference. A competition, quiz or game can be a great ice-breaker and encourage visitors to engage with you, as well as being a good way of incentivising potential customers to provide you with their contact details for your e-newsletters or social media channels. If you have some low-cost but useful branded giveaways they are more likely to remember you after the event, and if you’re able to offer some sort of on-stand refreshments (an espresso for those who have had an early start, or a slushy on a hot day can be a lifesaver…) your stand is bound to be more popular than your less appealing neighbours.
- Enjoy it. When it’s all over, remember those objectives you set at the beginning: now’s the time to do the acid test and see whether, in the cold light of day, it delivered in terms of ROI. It should be possible to calculate a cost per lead or sale – whatever metric works for your business – so that you can weigh up the value of one event versus another – while not forgetting to take into account those aspects that have to be measured a bit more subjectively, too. It’s worth doing this for each event you attend while your memory is still fresh: capture what worked and what didn’t, make a note of what key competitors were doing and record creative ideas from other exhibitors that might work for you in future. That way when it comes to the next planning round, you’ve got all these lessons to draw on and build on to ensure next year is even better.
If you would like some help organising your next big event CLICK HERE to contact us.