Events are one of the most lucrative marketing methods for B2B businesses, with as many as 80% of marketers believing that they are critical to their company’s success. In fact, events are so significant that according to research by Bizzabo, 63% of marketers plan on investing more in live events in the future.
With this in mind, it’s crucial to ensure that you stand out from the crowd and generate the best possible return on investment from every event you attend. As the competition heats up, the tried and true methods won’t cut it for much longer, so perhaps it’s time to rethink your event marketing strategy to make sure you don’t get lost in all the ‘noise’?
Over the years at DMA Partners, we’ve organised conferences, forums and attended numerous trade shows, business expos and networking events. To help you make an impact at your next event, we’ve distilled our experience into 4 key nuggets of wisdom.
1. Your Research and Planning
As the old adage goes, “fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” Before you start thinking tactically and dream up show-stopping flash mobs and virtual reality immersions, you need to go back to basics and create a solid strategy that will underpin every element of your event experience. This will make all the difference between a seamless, integrated and impactful approach and a hodge-podge of mixed messaging that confuses the consumer.
Here are some key questions to ask when shaping your event strategy:
What do you want to achieve by attending this event? (e.g. 40 new business leads)
Who exactly are you trying to target?
Which of your competitors will be in attendance and what is their brand position?
What is the one key takeaway you want everyone who comes into contact with your business to leave with?
How can you creatively and seamlessly communicate your key takeaway to ensure that your message is memorable and different from the competition?
In 2016 we were honoured to be named as a finalist in the B2B Marketing Awards for our work with the Amadeus airline IT financial suite at the World Financial Symposium. It was our strategic approach to positioning the brand at the event that ultimately led to success. It was also what caught the attention of industry bodies as well as the brand’s target market, showing that it pays dividends to invest in the planning stage.
2. Your Stand
When it comes to making a great first impression, it almost always comes down to the look and feel of your exhibition stand itself.
Your stand should communicate vibrancy and energy, ultimately drawing people’s attention away from other stands and towards your own.
So how do you do this? Here is a list of our top tips:
Make sure your branding is prominent, distinctive and attractive and communicated through backboard posters and pop-up banners
Take advantage of lighting, sound, visuals, props, people and technology that will enhance and complement your key messaging - can you combine these elements to create an ‘experience’ for people?
If you have a table, bring along a tablecloth in a complementary colour so you can store items under the table while keeping things neat and tidy from the perspective of attendees
Bonus tip: Try to gain a stand in a high-footfall area if possible. You don’t want all of your hard work to be in vain because you’re stand is tucked away in a corner that is overlooked.
3. Your Staff
While your stand is what will help you capture attention, it’s your event staff who have to work their magic to turn that attention into something more tangible.
Here are a few things to consider when it comes to your event staff:
Providing staff with branded uniforms can help to reinforce your message (see below for an example of uniforms we designed for Amadeus)
The staff you select to represent your brand should be well-presented, warm and friendly
Your staff should be conscious of their body language and strive to appear as approachable as possible
Attendees walking by or showing interest in your stand should be greeted with a warm hello, a friendly smile and an engaging question
Instead of going in with the hard sell, your staff should try to engage visitors by displaying a genuine curiosity about them, their needs and how your solution could help them
Why not give your staff company branded name badges or lanyards so that people can connect with them on a more relatable ‘human to human’ level?
4. Your Promotional Materials
Finally, to make your message stick, and potentially spread wider than the confines of the exhibition centre walls, you should distribute strong promotional materials to attendees.
When you think of all of the ‘event swag’ you’ve collected over the years, do things like pens, flyers, brochures, mouse mats and stress balls come to mind? That’s because that’s what everyone defaults to when they think of promotional materials. It’s time to get creative, think outside of the box and come up with something unique to send your prospects home with.
For example, in our work with Amadeus to promote their airline financial suite offering, their key message was ‘more gain, less pain’. We wanted to create something really unique, memorable and on-message to give to prospects, so we created a branded box filled with mints. The box created a great talking point and helped customer engagement with stand visitors.
How could you model this method to drive home your key message and create longer-lasting buzz?
So there you have it - our top 4 pieces of wisdom on standing out from the ‘sea of sameness’ at your next event.
Can you recall any businesses that have stood out to you at recent exhibitions and trade shows? We’d love to hear from you! Tweet us @DMA_Partners and let us know your thoughts.
If you’re looking to establish a stand-out events strategy, please contact our Managing Partner, Philip Martin, to discover how we can help: firstname.lastname@example.org.