When we plan events as part of our marketing strategy, there typically 2 primary goals: lead generation and brand awareness, with leads being the most important. There are, of course other reasons to exhibit and sponsor events, such as partner relationship development, meeting with multiple current customers in one location, and even hiring new employees. However, these are generally secondary objectives.
It's no secret that events are quite costly. In fact, they can quickly command 20-30% of your marketing budget with just a few events each year. So, it pays to do it right.
Here are a few tips that can make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck.
1. Start early. With planning, promoting and logistics – it is never too soon to start the process. From ordering onsite services to designing your theme, message as well as promotional and educational materials – event dates are hard deadlines. The show must go on, as they say, so it’s better to be prepared and have all of your information ready with a consistent look and feel, and of course, content.
- Discounts are often available if you order onsite services early.
- Shipping costs less if you can send ground and use the event transportation company.
- Avoid rush charges on graphic production and material printing.
2. Prospect pre-event. Tell your customers, prospects, previous event leads and potential partners which events you will be participating in and what you’ll be doing at each one. Share your role in the event; let them know if you are exhibiting, speaking, sponsoring or hosting a custom event. Spread the message across multiple channels and sources so you can attract as many targeted attendees as possible.
- The audience is already spending the time and money to get there.
- Meeting with so many people in the same place reduces your travel budget.
- Filter through the primary prospects from the “just kicking the tires” so you can focus your follow-up activities on your best opportunities.
3. Create a fun, engaging experience at the event. Background banners and a literature stand with hand sanitizer as your give-away (granted, a much needed item at events, but not the reason people attend) in a 10×10 booth are common place. Be different. Do something fun! Make people want to seek out your booth, event, activity, etc. You are spending a lot of money to produce an event (even with a 10×10 booth) so create a memorable experience that people talk about well after the event ends.
- An extra dollar or two (yes, that’s all it takes) on your give-away can stand out as something people remember – and use.
- Your fun theme will stick with people and help them remember your brand as one they associate with smart and creative people.
- The last thing you want is to throw money away. And that’s what happens when your give-away is cheap or not memorable.