By Christie Day
As an event director, one of the questions I’m asked most frequently is how much value events bring to exhibitors. I guess it’s a logical question when there are multiple other marketing channels available for companies to promote their services and reach potential customers. Why go to the time and effort when you can fire off a load of sales emails to your database with one click of a button? It might be an easy option to sit behind a computer screen and communicate electronically – but is that really the most effective way to engage and entice target customers?
Interest in exhibiting at events is certainly showing no signs of decline. On the contrary, recent statistics suggest business is booming for the events industry, worth an estimated £42 bn in the UK, with consistent growth year on year. According to Eventbrite’s 2019 Pulse Report, in spite of the Brexit-related economic uncertainty, the outlook is positive. The figures show that 40% of event companies expect their budgets to increase this year and 43% expect their budget to remain stable.
For those who query whether events are still ‘on trend’ in this digitally-dominated world, the simple answer is ‘yes’. Increasing sales and boosting revenue might be top of the list of aims for many companies who exhibit. But the real value goes way beyond the bottom line. From credibility to visibility, exhibiting at the right trade show gives companies a powerful platform to strengthen their brand, generate genuine targeted business leads and network with industry peers.
There are several key reasons why many organisations believe exhibiting at business events can be a driving force behind your overall sales and marketing efforts.
With the right strategy and the right event, being an exhibitor creates a great opportunity to expand your customer base. If your target market is professional ABC1 women, from career changers, enthusiastic entrepreneurs or existing business owners, then events like WIB Expo will put you in front of 5.000 of prospective customers. Visitors who attend business events trade shows tend to be highly motivated, with a genuine interest in the products or services on offer, and often come to an exhibition ready to commit.
With other sales approaches, prospects are reluctant to give up their time, however at exhibitions an enthusiastic response is much more probable. View every interaction as a chance to sell your service or product and this will generate a far higher percentage of valuable leads than cold emailing from generic prospect lists.
Build your database
In a post-GDPR environment, using customer data for marketing purposes such as cold emailing has become restricted territory. GDPR has pretty much pushed marketing methods full circle from offline to online and back offline again. Face to face communication with potential customers is invaluable. Those human interactions are a compelling way to get key marketing messages across and reinforce the brand. Exhibitors can take details of interactions with visitors to their stand and encourage them to register their interest which will help to build a customer database. Communicating with target attendees during a two day exhibition could keep sales teams busy for several months after the event.
Digital channels are clearly a highly effective resource when it comes to brand promotion, but what if potential customers don’t know what to search for? Whether you are establishing a brand, reinforcing the messages of an existing brand or launching a new product, events like WIB Expo provide the biggest ‘real’ stage for you to pitch your company story. Through exposure on social media, blogs, online and offline advertising opportunities by the WIB Expo team, your business would benefit from a brand awareness campaign that stretches way beyond the event itself. The all-inclusive exhibitors’ package has a strong focus on marketing and PR as well as incorporating the usual ‘extras’ as a standard part of the package, such as graphics, lighting, electrics, ‘plug and go’ etc. so you can concentrate on getting the most out of your stand and really sell the brand.
Choice of Event
We hear a lot that “a trade show is only as good as its brand list – the better the brands, the better the show.” Perhaps not relevant to all events, particularly the niche, specialist exhibitions. However, even if we do say so ourselves, the WIB Expo partners and exhibitors list is impressive - with a wide range of global blue chip brands and industry leaders from multiple sectors, exhibiting alongside specialist smaller businesses to meet the needs of all our visitors. Speakers include the UK’s most successful, high profile businesswomen, such as Karren Brady, Michelle Mone and Caprice Bouret. As well as some of the biggest names in the world of industry - from Aston Martin, IBM, Lenovo and Oracle.
Choosing the right event is critical for exhibitors who want to make the most of their investment. Footfall is important but quantity alone will not drive sales. It needs to be a balance of quality as well as quantity to help you reach a more targeted audience who are receptive to your specific business and represent real prospects. Location and venue are also important elements to explore when looking at events to exhibit at. The venue for WIB Expo at Farnborough’s new state of the art events space combines the convenience of being easily commutable from London, Surrey and Hampshire but as it’s outside the city parking and entry is free which will also help to attract more visitors to the event.
Everyone wants to stay one step ahead of their competition and exhibiting at events that have industry peers relevant to your business is a great way to keep informed. According to Eventbrite’s 2018 Pulse Report the reasons why people are hosting events is changing and one key element is “a sense of “bringing people together” and networking are among the main drivers.” Many companies find it useful to walk the floor during quieter periods, exploring the sales tactics and marketing strategies of competing businesses and building a network of exhibitor contacts who may offer services or products that complement their own. The WIB Expo venue in Farnborough provides many opportunities to network, everything is under one roof and there are no inflated drink and food costs that would otherwise deter people from staying in the building.