Blog
11/01/2024

When does your event or exhibition actually start? (hint: it’s not when the doors open)

Your event most definitely doesn’t start on the day itself. You need to attract and engage your prospects weeks or even months before then – and if you don’t, you can be sure your competitors will. You need to engage with your audience long before the exhibition doors open. You need to create a cognitive shift to put your brand front and centre of their minds so that they are excited to come and see you
elevating exhibition engagement sharkninja stand at Berlin IFA

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When does your event or exhibition actually start? (hint: it’s not when the doors open)

We recently ran a very useful webinar packed with insights on how to Elevate your Exhibitions. If you didn’t manage to catch it live, catch up with it now on demand. If you were there, you’ll know that your event most definitely doesn’t start on the day itself. To drive great exhibition engagement, you need to attract and engage your prospects weeks or even months before then – and if you don’t, you can be sure your competitors will.

OMG: Your crucial first step

Now, we’ve said this many times before but we’re going to say it again anyway just in case you missed it because it’s super important. Before you start planning any event, go back to basics and work out your OMG. Objectives, Measures & Gains. This means drilling down and getting under the skin of who your audience is and exactly what you’re trying to achieve from the expo (Objectives), how you will know whether you have achieved it (Measures), and what is the value to your business (Gains). If you’re new to our blog, check out OMG before you do anything else and find out why it is the crucial first step in any pre-planning. If you’re already an OMG convert, read on…

Engage, entertain, educate

OK, so we’re clear on our objectives, we have our measures in place and we know what the gain will be when we get it right. Now we can think about how we are going to do to attract the right people to the stand? What’s the pull? Why should they want to come and spend their valuable time with us rather than ‘them’? Historically, that was always about how your stand looked – and it still is to an extent. However, post-covid and with the onslaught of digital, you need to engage with your audience long before the exhibition doors open. You need to create a cognitive shift to put your brand front and centre of their minds so that they are excited to come and see you and will make a beeline for your stand before anyone else’s. But how do you drive this kind of early exhibition engagement?

Rule No. 1 : Let’s not send a generic mail merge email

We can do better than this! We’re all guilty of it. It’s what everyone else does but it implies that this customer is an also-ran, no more important than anyone else. They have been lumped together with every other prospect and you can take or leave their custom. We need some personalisation.

Make them feel special

Everyone wants to feel special. They want to feel valued. So personalise your approach and make them feel that they are your number one target. Instead of generic messaging, try slipping into their DMs on LinkedIn or Instagram. Find them on other social networks. Stand out by sending a video message or a voice note so that they immediately have a picture in their head of who you are and why they need to come and see you. Above all, let them know they are important to you.

Lumpy mail

Unfamiliar with the concept of lumpy mail? In these days of instant messaging, email and social media, the sending of proper, physical post seems to have drifted into obscurity. We have forgotten the joy of receiving something a bit different, something interesting, something lumpy that isn’t from Amazon! The younger ones of you may never have experienced it. I don’t know about you but the vast majority of my post is boring and brown. It doesn’t grab my attention and I rarely feel compelled to rip it open. However, anything that’s handwritten or colourful or, better still, lumpy and I can’t wait to get in there. And I’m not the only one – so, how about harnessing the power of lumpy mail to create excitement, engagement and the feeling of being special.

Make it meaningful

Identify 10 VIPs that you really want to impress and engage with at the exhibition. Stalk them on social media. Find out as much as you can about them and then send them something special, meaningful and lumpy. If they’re into their whisky, send a mini bottle. If they’re into golf, send them a set of golf balls and a handwritten invitation to your stand. You could send a teaser of something available on the day. Work with your exhibition company to come up with fun and creative ideas that nobody else will have thought of. Above all, get them excited about your product, your brand and your stand. Make them want to see you. Engage beforehand then maximise on the day – remember what you sent to each person and use it as a conversation starter.

For example, I worked with Jägermeister a few years ago and they sent me a personalised Jägermeister bottle with my name on it. I love it. It’s in pride of place in my office. It was a simple thing for them to do but was really meaningful to me. It meant a lot that they had taken the time and thought to do that.

Stand out from the crowd

Little touches like this show a real human side to you and your business and they set you apart. As humans, we love giving and receiving gifts but it also gives you that reciprocity. That warm, fuzzy feeling helps to form relationships, which is what we are aiming to achieve. In B2B particularly, if we want those high value people to come to our stand, we’ve got to be thinking much more strategically. Let’s really squeeze all the juice out of every exhibition and get every drop of value we can.

simplybetter
experts in disruption

As Donald Rumsfeld famously said, ‘You don’t know what you don’t know’ (or something along those lines). At simplybetter, it’s our job to know how to elevate your exhibitions and squeeze them till they squeak. It’s our job to disrupt the old, traditional approaches and show new, innovative ways to create better engagement, to stand out from the crowd and to increase the value and longevity of each and every exhibition we undertake. Each one is unique, designed to inspire and to create significant, long term change.

Check out our knowledge hub for more ideas, inspiration and expert advice on delivering ingenious events and unconventional conventions.  

If we’ve sparked your interest, get in touch for a chat about your next event.

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