Once you get into the thick of the planning process, preparing for an exhibition, event, or trade fair starts to feel a lot like throwing a party. Once the preparation is complete, you’re certainly facing the same sort of anxieties. It’s easy to start second-guessing yourself if attendance starts off slow. In the same way you might start suspecting your invitations went AWOL when guests are slow to show up, the early stages of an exhibition can be torturous if you didn’t prepare properly.
In order to boost your exhibition’s attendance and profile, make sure you spend time and money the right way when you’re planning for it! These tips can help you pull off a great event:
1) Schedule As Many Meetings In Advance As Possible
Exhibitions are a tremendous opportunity for productive professional networking. You want to fill up your diary fast! Plus, busy stands make it look like your set-up is important and worth checking out. Give delegates and visitors an opportunity to make appointments before your exhibition. Adding a suitable tool to your website’s events section is a great idea. When the event gets underway, make sure your team members are prepared for the meetings you have scheduled. Keep in mind that this process is a balancing act. You don’t have to book your diary solid before the exhibition starts; in fact, leaving yourself the flexibility to add more meetings is important, too!
2) Promote Your Event Internally
Use internal communication channels to ensure that everybody in your organization is aware of the exhibition. Your team should be fully briefed on what you intend to accomplish, but that information should be spread to interested staff members, too. Extra hands pitching in by speaking productively to customers, vendors, and journalists can make your stand that much more popular.
3) Use Your Website As A Promotional Tool
We’ve already noted that you should use your online resources to cultivate advance interest in your exhibition. What if the “events” section of your site doesn’t get a lot of traffic? Consider equipping your homepage with a direct announcement of your upcoming exhibition. A direct link that allows visitors to schedule meetings right from your homepage can go a long way toward filling your diary.
4) Promote Your Part Of A Wider Event Across All Free Channels
Coordinate your exhibition with the organizers of the event. You want to make sure you’re listed in the directory and included in promotional materials whenever possible. Do your own free promotion as well. Use a press release to announce your presence and use event-related hashtags on social media to start meaningful conversations about your role in the event.
5) Use Email Signatures To Promote The Event
A small but powerful way to spread awareness of your exhibition is to mention the event in all staff email signatures. Whether you’re a small organization or a giant one, staff signatures reach a surprisingly large group of potential attendees.
6) Cultivate Journalistic Attention
Hopefully, your exhibition coincides with new developments, products, or services that are newsworthy. While seeking out press attention prior to the event can help boost attendance, you shouldn’t overlook the exhibition itself as an opportunity to curry favorable reporting. When it’s time to hit the show, bring along media packs ready for journalists. Note that putting these on USB drives is a smart idea; journalists prefer electronic data to hard copies. Start positioning yourself for media attention three months prior to the event. Schedule meetings with journalists at that time. You can even check editorial calendars to see where and how you could get feature content published.
7) Add The Event To Your Existing Ads (On And Offline)
You can boost your event attendance significantly by folding it into the promotional work you’re already doing. For maximum effectiveness, use a call to action that encourages visitors to seek you out. This is an excellent place to leverage the meeting-scheduling features you’ve set up for attendees.
8) Don’t Be Shy About Personal Invitations
It can be a good use of your time to contact existing clients and new prospects to let them know about your exhibition. You can do this with group messages like e-newsletters, but you may get better results with individual, personal emails or phone calls. It should also be on the booth and exhibition panels too. If your promotional budget can take it, your exhibition could even benefit from a direct mailer sent to potential attendees.
9) Recruit Your Sales Staff To Invite Attendees
Sales personnel and other staff members who deal with potential customers can drum up a lot of interest if you give them tools to do so. Distribute invites so they can spread the word. This broadens your reach while you focus your own efforts on potential attendees you know better.
10) If You Have A Creative Theme, Make It A Centerpiece
At some exhibitions, you already know what you’ll spend all your time talking about. A sufficiently newsworthy development can and should be the core of all your promotional efforts. Even if you don’t have a single overriding announcement, you might scare up a lot more visitors if you develop a creative, outside-the-box theme for your exhibition and make it a key part of your marketing.