With the recession continuing to bite, the opportunity for high-level decision makers to get out of the office and spend a day walking an event is now increasingly limited. For those looking to market themselves and drum up new business, taking an exhibition stand at a key industry event has been an important cornerstone in marketing strategy, but will it deliver the results required in 2013?
We can speak from experience, having looked after a number of client events – and our own – this year. We have found that despite events claiming ‘higher than ever’ attendance figures, the value of contacts made has fallen and in some cases the growth of events has meant footfall seemingly feels much lighter almost as though the shows were quieter than previous years, not busier.
So, if I was to be asked the question about exhibiting in 2013 I would be cautioning clients to consider it wisely and ask some pertinent questions. For instance, what is your objective for being at the show – is it to build brand awareness, be seen in the same environment to competitors, reach new customers or set up meetings with existing clients?
Event costs can easily run into the tens of thousands once stand space, design, build, equipment, furniture, catering, travel and giveaways are all factored in – and this is even if you are trying to deliver on a small budget! Considering the long-term impact of marketing activity is important, as is ensuring that you are very targeted with activity and therefore look at all the different marketing options before committing to an exhibition stand. Be it ongoing PR to build brand awareness, direct mail activity to a core target list or even smaller scale corporate entertainment can often deliver as many opportunities on a smaller budget.
That said, events do have an important role to play in the marketing mix but in today’s climate you have to make them work harder for you. That means not relying on footfall alone to deliver the results you’re looking for – see these as the added bonus. Making appointments with potential clients, scouring the exhibition list to see if there are new business targets, ensuring you’ve a good news story for journalist interviews or even holding a drinks reception at some stage during the day are all extra tactics to employ to ensure you’re not just reliant on passing footfall to find you and be the customer that makes you that millionaire!