Benchmark Business Group

Event Marketing

February 4, 2014

Event Marketing and Execution

Let's see if this scenario sounds familiar: Jon Smith, owner of XYZ Company, decides that it is time to go to the annual local Expo as a supplier and buys booth space for $500. Jon then thinks back to other Expos and remembers all of the cool promotional items that the other suppliers had. Jon spends another $500 on promotional items for the event. Jon also has a very creative and professional booth layout created, complete with graphics and stands. He knows he can use this at multiple expos so spends $2000. Jon lines up staff to man the booth for times he will have to be away. Jon feels supremely confident in how the booth will be received. On the day of the event, the booth gets set up, the promotional items laid out, and the smiles put on. For Jon, it has been a great experience in the opening hours of the Expo. He has talked with a number of people that seem interested in what XYZ Company has to offer. Eventually, relief arrives and Jon is able to do a little of his own wandering around the Expo. He returns later in the day to find a booth that is deserted, except for the one employee sitting in the back corner of the booth. All the promotional items are gone, though the XYZ Company information pamphlets haven't been touched. Jon gets that sinking feeling, the one that says something has gone horribly wrong.......


This type of scenario is all too common, but you can stop it from happening to your business. Follow this month as we walk through how Jon could have avoided an event disaster.  If you're familiar with the Benchmark philosophy, you know that we like to start with the end in mind. If you want an event to go well then you and your staff have to know what a successful event means to your business.   It is not enough to plan what needs to happen up to the start of the event, you have to plan through to the conclusion of the event and beyond. This means understanding the three stages of the event: Before, During, and After. Throughout this month, we will take a close look at each stage. 


Before an Event

The stage before an event is all about painting a picture. What is the purpose behind your company's involvement in the event? What is it that your company hopes to gain? It could be exposure to other suppliers, lead generation for your product or service, or it could be that having a presence at the event is worth more and does far less damage than not showing up at all. All are viable results. Are they your desired results? Your desired results should include:

  • Who Do You Want to Attract to Your Booth? Remember this is event MARKETING and we never market without knowing our target market. Jon's booth attracted enough people to clear out their promotional items, but how many of them were actually interested in XYZ? It's not about talking to everyone, but about talking to the right people.
  • How Do You Attract Them? This includes the look and "feel" of your booth as well as what, if anything, you give away at the event. Promotional Items are great but do they bring value or leave an impression that matters? Jon obviously had items that were popular as they were gone when he returned later in the day, but he was upset that the brochures were not gone.  It's easy to fall into the trap of having promotional items that are "fun", but not meaningful. Again it's the result that you need to keep in mind when ordering these items or setting up any type of drawing at your booth. Is the item something your target market will use, will it end up in the trash, or in the hands of their kids? Does it allow them to experience your product/services? Choose your promotional items carefully by considering what your target market would do with them AFTER the event.
  • What Do You Want from Attendees? As with most marketing, your event marketing has inbound and outbound leads. Your inbound leads are the people that are willing to give you information. Be careful here, it can be tempting to have people exchange information for a chance to win a drawing or in exchange for a giveaway, but then you leave them feeling tricked and you have to wade through a lot of junk to get to the true leads. Be clear on what information you want, from whom, and how you plan to use it.   If you have a drawing let everyone enter, but only ask for information for leads that are qualified.  Your outbound leads will need information so that if they desire they can contact you after the event. Remember that people are visiting 100's of booths in a span of hours at most events. They will have information overload so choose carefully. Again you don't want to hand out your brochures to everyone, but to your market.

This week we challenge you to work on the results you want for your next event. Follow us as we look at what plans Jon needed in place During the event to be more successful.

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