Events are not easy to produce or manage. They are full of details and deadline dates. Getting it right, your business event can be a strategic tool to help engage your target audience and drive their interest year after year. You don’t need to be in charge of managing an event to get more value from it. Bring new, innovative ideas to your next post-event meeting, or brainstorming session.
Use proven online and traditional tools to shape and structure your event. Enhance it every year to offer something new to your ‘regular’ attendees. Then promote your meeting or show effectively, using innovative means to captivate your members or customers BEFORE they arrive.
Your communications or marketing manager may perform extraordinarily well and produce successful events, but there are always ways to carve out a little more value. Recently, I attended three different trade show events. Here are five problems that affected some of my experiences as an attendee along with my solutions that could help transform these events to the next level of success.
- Problem: Thousands of people waiting more than an hour outside the convention centre to get in the exhibit hall and these attendees are previously registered.
Solution: Get the most out of your people waiting together in a line. Line ups are an event organizer’s dream. Be outstanding: Engage them while they wait to get into your event. Educate, entertain, or hydrate them. Don’t wait for people to fall sick from dehydration and then react (what I saw at one event). Be proactive. Invest in providing water ahead of disaster. Bring out some entertainment, field expert or executive to shake hands, answer any questions. You’d be surprised how easily you can build loyalty from this.[Note: The convention I attended had industry celebrities signing autographs for $45 to $75 per signing. Though it is this industry’s standard, it seems so ironic – is not a celebrity’s success derived from its fans?]
- Problem: Unsatisfactory food concessions: limited choices, shortage of seating, excessive line ups. This diminishes your exhibitor value (attendees waiting in these lines instead of meeting you or your exhibitors). At one event, one food concession offered only food and no drink leaving attendees to wait in additional line for beverage ($6 for a lemonade, anyone?).
Solution: Do enough research to determine what seating requirements meets your group’s needs. Offer both food and drink at each concession, if possible. And, don’t forget your vegetarians or other special food needs.
- Problem: Event has little focal point or dominating theme.
Solution: Engage your audience and take this unique opportunity to learn more about them. Poll them (5 or less questions) at registration or lunchtime. Give them a ballot with a series of “Best of…”questions on it: Set a few product type categories then display submitted exhibitor products for your attendees to judge. Award ‘Bragging Right” prizes to exhibitors and random prizes for participating attendees. What interests you when you attend shows? Get inspired and apply it to your industry and participants.
- Problem: Other events taking place at same time can affect parking, road/walking traffic, and travel time.
Solution: As you get closer to your event, if you do not already know, do some research to find out what other activities will be happening around your event that may affect your group. Notify your registered audience and potential attendees via social media hubs, your website, and event email confirmations.
- Problem: Attendees are not equipped for getting the most out of the event.
Solution: Inform your audience of the tools they could use to maximize their experience. Make it easy for them to gush about your event to their colleagues and friends. Remind them to bring enough business cards or get their smart phone ready to share their contact info, virtually. If you’re hooked into a location-based social networking website, like foursquare, give them the info so they can ‘check-in” upon arrival. Provide them with an informative, fun or interactive checklist.
Be your MarCom department’s spy for a day. Take a closer look: How is your audience responding to the attractions and processes of your event? Watch the human flow of traffic, or listen to what is being said in the halls.
Bring some of these ideas forward and take some credit at your next staff retreat, industry educational and/or trade show event, AGM or sales meeting. This insight can help your marketing or communications team build better tools to connect with your audience and profile your brand. What is one of your current event challenges or problems? We can address it in an upcoming post.
Infuse Five helps its association and business clients, across North America and globally, inject smart marketing into their programs without the need to hire a full time communications specialist. Learn more about how Infuse Five can help grow your business with more smart marketing tips, subscribe to our e-newsletter.