The IMI Blog
Technology has definitely made the world a smaller place, reducing barriers for gaining customers across the globe. With the advent of online marketing, it is interesting to see how businesses use technology in creative and innovative ways to communicate with customers. While online channels like social media and emails are effective means to communicate, there is absolutely no replacement for the experience exhibitions and tradeshows can provide: Personal, face-to-face interaction.
Exhibitions and events will always remain one of the main tactics used by marketing teams to get in front of customers and decision-makers, especially when you are entering a new market. In fact, a recent research from the Centre for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR)* states that the global exhibition industry is going to see a new peak in 2018. While marketers understand the importance and benefits of trade shows and exhibitions, a staggering 59%** claim they do not know how to measure event ROI, and continue to exhibit because they’ve either participated previously in the event or because their competitors participate. This lack of know-how to maximize and report ROI does not work in favour of marketers in securing budgets for future events. Below are key pointers to adhere to turn events and tradeshows into a positive ROI machine.
Set your goals. The first step in getting goals right is to get a broader-level understanding of the corporate and marketing strategy. This could be creating brand awareness, lead generation, customer engagement, education or even generating sales. For instance, according to Event Marketing Institute’s Event Track report, 81% of businesses stated ‘increasing brand awareness’ was the primary goal in event marketing; and 79% voted for ‘increasing sales’.
Invest in booth design. First impressions matter. Customers can form first impressions of brands based on the appearance of booth design in only one tenth of a second. An impressive and custom exhibition stand design will definitely increase costs, but at the same time will boost returns as well. Successful brands work meticulously on getting their stand designs right because they understand that exhibition booth designs can make or break a brand’s success at a trade show.
Leverage technology. In extremely competitive spaces like trade shows, technology can help brands differentiate and stand out in the crowd. Technology like Virtual Reality (VR) enables booth visitors to be fully immersed in realistic three-dimensional interactive environments. The technology was a little far from reality a few years ago and today, VR has come leaps and bounds. It is more affordable and accessible and we see a widespread use of VR at events and exhibitions. For example, given the space constraint at an exhibition booth, VR can be used to walk audience through a virtual showroom and create unlimited floor space to showcase products or services. Or consider an example where a real estate company wants its audience to experience its new property. There are clearly no limits to how creative one can get with this technology. However, connecting the VR setting to brand stories is something a lot of brands don't do well. Getting this connection right is one of the most important factors to creating experiences visitors will never forget.
Digital Signage and touch screens can provide interactive experience to visitors, driving engagement at trade shows. Imagine, instead of pushing a brochure with a ton of content at visitors, brands can provide a platform with touch screens for visitors to interactively learn about them based on visitor’s curiosity. Technologies like beacons and RFID also make it easier to collect critical data for measuring trade show ROI.
Communicate event participation. Notify existing and potential customers about the company’s participation at an event. Press releases, email communications and social media can be leveraged for amplifying a brand’s reach before, during and after the event.
Post show action. A specific plan should be in place to follow up on all potential prospects met at the trade show. A tailored on-going email nurture campaign can work wonders to push leads further down the sales cycle. It is not just about driving traffic to exhibition booths, a successful exhibition participation is about generating quality leads and moving them down the sales/services pipeline.
* The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR)’s 2016 CEIR Index Report
** The State of Event Marketing, Hubspot and Eventbrite