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/ 22 Oct, 2019
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6 legitimate reasons you need events in your 2020 marketing strategy

With the rise and effectiveness of digital marketing, events can often be overlooked when planning your marketing strategy. But if you do that, you'll be missing out on an increasingly valuable marketing resource. Let's see why:

1. The number & quality of leads

When exhibiting, if you plan your lead generation well you can leave with a substantial amount of leads, which are usually high quality. By planning, we’re talking knowing how many deals you need to generate ROI, and how many leads you need to achieve this. Planning your follow up in advance, what questions you need to ask each lead, having a great opening question to engage with visitors walking past your stand, and keeping conversations short and to the point.

Usually when a visitor attends an event, they are motivated, open minded and looking to find new products/services/information. This puts them in the prime frame of mind to buy from you. Attendees also tend to have some level of buying power. You’re much more likely to speak to the decision maker, and as there is no gatekeeper to convince like on the phone, your time is spent speaking to the right people.

Tip – Hire a barcode scanner. If the organisers offer one, consider it. There’s nothing worse than illegible handwriting, lost paper leads, and manual data entry. Scanners allow you to access the visitors’ info in real time, and (if you prepare well) email them the same day.

Tip – Look out for free training on how to maximise your lead collection at events. This is usually offered by the exhibition organisers. 

2. Face to face isn’t dead

You can’t go a day without hearing about the power of LinkedIn, or how Google adverts are now more powerful than ever, but we all know that speaking to someone face to face is only becoming more powerful. Build genuine connections in a short space of time with the visitors, especially as they tend to have more time than they would over the phone. 

This is the place to deploy your best salespeople, who can quickly find out what each potential customers’ pain points are and adapt their sales pitch accordingly. You’ll also be able to hear any reservations that the visitor has, which is an opportunity you don’t get through digital mediums!

Tip – Arrange to meet some of your existing customers at the event, as it will strengthen brand loyalty. Also, contrary though it may sound, the busier your stand is, the more visitors will come and speak to you. We can all be guilty of ‘following the crowd’ and this is particularly true at events. 

Tip – Find an amazing ‘question’ to engage with visitors walking past. Think about being in a shop, when an assistant asks ‘Can I help you?’ you’re pretty likely to say something similar to ‘No thanks, just looking’, and avoid further conversation. The same is true here, so don’t miss the opportunity to speak to hundreds of decision makers by not having a good opening.

3. It boosts your visibility

Whether you’re a small business looking to become recognised, or a huge corporation trying to stay at the forefront of prospects minds, visibility is key. Thousands of visitors to an event will see your brand at the show, and in the marketing beforehand. Familiarity with a brand is a big part of building trust, so make sure your prospects aren’t building trust with your competitors while you’re back in the office.

Tip – Run an event-specific promotion. Event organisers tend to promote this to visitors, and in event marketing, and will increase your visibility. It can also attract prospects to your stand who otherwise would have observed from a distance.

Tip – Look for events that run a matchmaking service. Some event websites now show visitors the most relevant companies for the services and products they’re interested in. Your brand will be recommended to those most likely to buy from you – which, in a world of endless choice, is invaluable.

4. Gets you ahead of the competition

Your stand will be alongside small businesses and giants of industry alike. Take this unique opportunity to see how they package and price their services, how they pitch prospects, and even what their stand looks like. You can even tailor which USP’s to highlight to prospects, to win business from your competitors at the event.

Tip – You’ll be up against plenty of competitors if you exhibit at industry-specific events. Although the audience is more targeted, you might consider exhibiting at general business events too. If you’re not the only one in your sector, there usually won’t be more than one or two competitors there.

Tip - While you’re there, schedule some time to attend some key seminars or classes on offer. You may as well take advantage of the sales, marketing and employment advice and get a step ahead of your competition! Make sure you aren’t missing out on leads though, only do this if you have enough staff to man your stand.

5. It's the ultimate networking

Events are amazing for networking. Aside from the hundreds or thousands of visitors there, you’re in the same boat as your fellow exhibitors. You’d be surprised at the amount of business you can do with them, and how much business they can refer your way if you build the connection in person.

Tip – look for events with an exhibitor networking event or even better, an exhibitor party. 

6. Get instant, accurate feedback

Someone who visits your website, goes to checkout, and then vanishes – did they find the same service cheaper elsewhere? Did something on your site put them off? Did they just change their mind? At events, every person you speak to will give you real-time feedback on your business. Learn how they view and interact with your brand and listen to their assumptions about it. This will improve your marketing, and make sure your spend is the most effective it can be.

Tip – Before the event think about your message. Although it’s great to get feedback when you’re there, you need to make sure you aren’t missing out on business because your branding or collateral isn’t clear. Look out for free training on how to attract event attendees, provided by event organisers.

Ultimately, events provide you with an opportunity to generate leads and do business – but like most things you get out of it what you put in. Exhibiting at an event without don’t preparing correctly, staffing it fully with people who know your goals, and following up well means you’re likely to decide events don’t work for you. Done well, they can be one of the best mediums to fill your sales pipeline. 

Of course, we have to mention the biggest business event in the North of England, which attracts around 6000 visitors and is in March 2020. It's called The Northern Business Exhibition – read more about exhibiting here and let’s have a chat to see if it’s the right fit for your 2020 marketing plan!
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