Archive for the 'Exhibitions' Category

30
Sep
14

Tips for improving trade show participation in 2015

Mariama Holman

Mariama Holman, content marketing specialist for MultiView.

This month’s guest blog post is by Mariama Holman, content marketing specialist for MultiView, a digital marketing company for associations.

It’s never too early (or too late) to start fine-tuning your organization’s participation in a trade show. The time is now; the fourth quarter of 2014 is filled with a myriad of seasonal events. Additionally, there are plenty of major events on the horizon for early next year, such as the Springtime Expo hosted by ASAE. This event hails as the most significant one-day show for association meeting professionals, attracting leaders from across the nation.

Headed to a trade show soon? Heed these helpful hints:

Develop a strategy

The association should be like a tactician competing on the battlefield – vying for new members and the continuing loyalty of old ones.

Lee Ali, managing director and founder of Expo Stars Interactive Ltd., states that 65 percent of exhibitors do not have a clear strategy or plan of action for trade show participation. Given these events are often costly, it is important to put time into thinking through trade show involvement and determining a worthwhile ROI.

Set and track goals

What are the goals for participation? How did the association perform?

Answers to these questions are necessary for assessing performance and creating a strategy to improve. Unfortunately, 97.5 percent of exhibitors do not keep track of any quantifiable results from their events. It is a best practice to always outline what “success looks like” for trade show participation and keep track of performance.

Train for success

Olympic sprinters train to win medals. Artists rehearse to perform concerts. Entrepreneurs practice their pitches to gain funding. Why shouldn’t associations train for success as well?

According to Ali, 74 percent of exhibitors do not train their staff for trade shows and events. There is a certain set of skills unique to trade shows. These skills are a hybrid of marketing and sales – knowing how to not only “sell” visitors once they enter a booth, but appropriately attract them in the first place. It is important to prepare staff by teaching best practices, running through set-up/tear down time frames and developing a familiarity with the hustle and bustle of a trade show.

Optimize

People, events and organizations are not perfect and never will be. However, organizations can always strive to improve – getting better, faster and smarter year after year.

An association is bound to make some mistakes at a trade show, whether it is falling behind schedule or not securing the amount of X, Y or Z it hoped. Utilize these moments as opportunities to learn and improve your organization’s involvement in the future.

28
Jan
14

On target and in the money

11272851-concept-success-red-dart-hitting-a-target-vector-signNow that you’ve settled into 2014 (maybe? sort of?), you’re probably planning an exciting lineup of events.

Maybe your goal is to attract as many participants, from as many demographics, as possible. After all, hundreds of attendees translate into thousands of dollars, and everyone loves a strong revenue stream. Right?

Not necessarily, according to Jeff Hurt, executive vice president, education and engagement, for Velvet Chainsaw Consulting.

“When you create education sessions for everyone about everything, you can’t go deep into the issues and challenges that your audience craves,” he said. “You miss the opportunity to create programming that participants feel was prepared just for them, and ultimately, your conference programming becomes generic. It’s vague and feels like wet, soft, mushy Melba toast.”

So instead, take a lesson from successful marketers. The golden rule of marketing is to identify your target audiences, which are the groups of people who are most interested in your product or services. They’re also the most engaged in your messaging and marketing efforts.

A good example: education tracks. Segmenting sessions into audiences – administrators, planners and vendors, for instance – allows you to cater to specific needs. So when another need arises, these grateful participants may turn to you for business, membership and additional educational opportunities.

At the same time, it’s a good idea to keep vendors’ interests in mind.

Hurt said some associations with significant tradeshows make 60 to 70 percent of their revenue from exhibit booth sales, while another 10 to 20 percent of revenue comes from sponsorships and advertising. According to Hurt, usually exhibitors want: qualified leads; face-to-face time with purchasers, decision makers and budget officers; and the opportunity to bond with current clients.

Jeff Hurt

Jeff Hurt, executive vice president, education and engagement, for Velvet Chainsaw Consulting. Photo courtesy of Jeff Hurt.

“If you see your conference audience as a homogenous, faceless clump of people, you’ll have a hard time selling them as the right audience for your exhibitors and sponsors,” he said. “Instead, think of them as a long line of individuals waiting to have a conversation with you. Do you want to talk to every one of them? Or do you want to seek out the individuals who have the authority and responsibility to purchase products and services for their organizations?”

In short, target audiences at conferences and expos should comprise those groups that are most important to your exhibitors and sponsors. Once you determine those audiences, focus on their needs when developing educational content and choosing speakers.

In other words: You’ll generate the most revenue when you determine which customers will have the greatest impact on your exhibitors and sponsors.

A little market research will go a long way when planning your conferences and events, so for starters, pick up a good marketing book to learn more about target audiences.

Make sense? How do you meet the needs of your target audiences?

22
Feb
13

The key to successful CSM/planner collaboration is communication

Kelly Van Dyke, CMP

Kelly Van Dyke, CMP

This post is authored by guest blogger Kelly Van Dyke, CMP. Kelly is a convention service manager at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. Email: kvandyke@amwaygrand.com

Your venue CSM should be your number one go-to person, your number one collaborator, your biggest fan, maybe even your best friend (even if only for a short period of time). This person wants a successful conference just as much as you do. His or her primary role is to assist you in planning a conference within your means. Likewise, he or she is charged with maintaining the venue’s profitability, as well as delivering a pleasant and memorable experience for your attendees. Ultimately, the key to a successful relationship with your CSM is communication. Following are a couple of tried and true tips guaranteed to help you communicate more effectively with your convention services manager.

First, share information – and share it early and often. Tell your CSM everything you can about your organization, its conference and all the quirks that come with it. Don’t hold back. Include historical figures, past experiences and even those elements of your conference that remain a work in progress. In return, your CSM will offer ideas and suggestions to be sure your conference runs as smoothly as possible (given both the strengths and the limitations of the property). Likewise, if you are not experienced in a particular area, be sure to speak up. For example, I once worked with a planner who had very little experience in exhibition services. Ultimately, in an effort to break even, he was seeking new ways to lower event costs. When we started discussing exhibitor needs, including power and Internet access, I recommended these services be offered to exhibitors as add-ons. In turn, this saved his organization more than $4,200 per day. In the end, he looked like the hero. By sharing with me his goals, objectives and concerns, we were able to identify and implement a thoughtful solution.

Just remember that CSMs work equally hard for you as they do for their own company. Case in point: We ask a million questions in advance of your event to avoid those awkward onsite moments (if you’ve never before experienced one, consider yourself lucky). For example, if you have plans to place 300 stick-on footprints throughout the hotel as directional signage, your CSM would need the proper approval (in advance of your arrival) to do so. Although it’s a great idea – especially in light of the sheer number of blank stares I see on the faces of lost people each day as I walk the floors of my property – there are many considerations that must be factored into this type of way-finding strategy. For starters, there’s the venue’s approval process. This type of signage may or may not be permitted by your property’s management team. Can you imagine what a bummer it would be if you began strategically placing these footprints onsite and midway through the installation your CSM asked you to remove them? Or, better yet, if someone removed them all for you without your knowledge? That’s why communication with your CSM prior to your function is the single most important resource you can leverage as a planner.

Through thick and thin, your CSM should be a trusted friend and advisor. This person is your liaison to the venue staff, a key factor in the success of your conference and, ultimately, the person you’re most likely to work with on future events. The more they know the better. And, over time, the better you get to know one another, the more your CSM can anticipate your needs and requests. Share with them your plans, your expectations, your dreams and your wonders; they will breathe life into your vision the best way they know how. (Editor’s note: And if they don’t, kindly address this concern with your sales manager or the venue’s general manager.)

So, my question to you is this: What other recommendations do you have for enhancing the CSM/planner relationship? What’s worked well for you in the past? What “best practices” have you picked up and implemented over the years? Consider sharing with us an example of CSM/planner collaboration at its best.




meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, hot yoga, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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