If you are organising an exhibition or trade show you face a twin challenge: attracting exhibitors, dealers and perhaps sponsors; and bringing in sufficient numbers of visitors to make the event worthwhile.
Of course the two are mutually dependent. Without a good range of exhibitors, you won’t attract any visitors. And if you can’t attract visitors in sufficient numbers, no one will want to pay you to exhibit.
So what can you do to attract more?
1 Establish a visitor attraction plan
You can’t always guarantee large numbers of visitors well in advance. A well thought through attraction plan, that clearly breaks down what you will be doing to get people to the event, will help convince exhibitors to commit.
Depending on the type of event, you’ll probably need to think about road signage (still remarkably effective), social media, advertising or inserts in the relevant trade magazine or local paper, pay per click, and direct mail or email to the target audience and/or previous attendees.
Don’t just list a series of activities. Indicate a timeline showing when the activity will happen and on what scale. Do you have a database of 500 people or 5,000? How many times will you send something to them?
Obviously the larger your database the easier attracting a bigger and better audience becomes, so register every visitor you can at every event. Those people who have already visited one of your shows are those most likely to come to another – unless they had a terrible time!
Make sure those who opt into receiving updates from you get useful or entertaining information as well as promotions as this will reduce unsubscribes.
2 Get your exhibitors on board
Asking your exhibitors to promote the event or to send out free VIP tickets to their clients is a well-established idea but rarely pays the dividends people expect.
When you think about it, that’s perhaps not so surprising.
While there are obviously some loyalty points to be won by providing top clients with gold tickets to an industry forum, such an invitation also brings the client into contact with the exhibitor’s competitors who are also attending the event. Some exhibitors will be reluctant to expose themselves to that danger.
One way to incentivise a little bit more risk taking is to offer to refund exhibition fees to the exhibitor or dealer who attracts the largest number of their clients to the event. You’ll need some careful tracking processes in place, but a bit of friendly competition could help boost your audience significantly.
3 The power of PR
Well targeted PR around an event can really help drum up interest and visitor numbers, both of which will please your exhibitors. As PR is not paid for, you may get more bang for your buck, and people tend to believe PR stories more than they do a straight advert.
Competitions to win tickets for the event, or competitions at the event itself (if the prize is good enough) can attract a lot of attention. But how about this for a more creative approach? Nick Robinson, PR guru and founder of the Marketing Guild, once famously ran an advert in The Times, seeking a witch to bless the field where his client’s outdoor festival was due to take place. This story, as Nick predicted, was picked up by the national press and TV, plus local radio and papers.
In an unexpected bonus, a local vicar wrote to the press complaining about the promotion of black magic, bringing even further publicity.
On the big day, 35,000 people turned up!
4 Service excellence
Giving exhibitors and visitors an experience to remember positively will always have a great impact on repeat custom. One great way of doing this is by partnering with reliable suppliers who take your customers’ satisfaction as seriously as you do.
Bill Bowden Event Logistics is the event logistics partner of choice for several event organisers. They recommend us to their exhibitors, secure in the knowledge we will represent their brand positively and give their customers an experience they’ll remember for all the right reasons.
To talk to us about becoming your recommended event logistics partners, please get in touch with Bill directly for a preliminary chat. You can email him at bill@firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0) 203 475 2700.