After all, Facebook and LinkedIn ads are inexpensive in comparison to a trade show booth. And if you do decide to go for it, how do you justify this decision to your CFO?
Read on and we’ll give you all the answers…
Why do in-person events in the first place?
As Marko Dimitrijevic commented in ThriveGlobal blog:
“While digital communication is unequivocally indispensable, it’s also imprecise. It’s faster, but flawed. Immediate, but impersonal. There’s no ability to read body language or hear the tone of voice. Nuance is lost.”
Events are often seen as the hubs of their communities. The meeting point. The source of information, new products and new ideas. The home of networking and those serendipitous conversations that could change your future.
Events bring new and experienced people together whether online or in person and offer you the potential to reach a new audience. But how do we leverage this resource to its full potential?
Old vs new
We’re going to look at two core methods of exhibiting and will call them ‘traditional’ and ‘new’. It’s time for more exhibitors focused on the ‘new’ to get serious ROI (return on investment) out of B2B events.
1. Traditional way of exhibiting
Whatever size or shape of your stand, it does what it says on the tin. This is your standard sort of exhibiting experience. Maybe you speak, exhibit, have a listing on the website, network, pay for the bar bill and go home.
Events help you reach new audiences, and nothing beats an in-person conversation. In many instances, this will work for a lot of companies. They can meet new customers or partners, they can present their latest products, and generate serious business.
Whilst this works for many, what about the rest of the year? Aside from running dozens of events at additional cost, how do you use this opportunity to engage with audiences across many channels, year-round from exhibiting at just one event?
2. New way of exhibiting
One benefit of the pandemic is that it’s helped us learn new ways of working in a digital world. We should lean into this and add a ‘digital layer’ so our in-person exhibiting activity has a digital longtail. Think about turning your booth into a podcast studio or capture vox pops using a mobile phone, which can be shared online after the event has finished to connect with your prospects.
Yes, it’ll take more effort but the payback is massive and gives you another argument to take to the CFO when asking for the budget to exhibit.
So when we exhibit in this new world, we still speak, exhibit, pay for the bar bill but we also capture months or potentially 12 months’ worth of content in just two days.
Think about it, you have an audience at your disposal on the show floor (to a degree of course). How can you use visitors to help shape your experience and engage an even greater audience all year-round?
You’re more likely to reach new audiences that you haven’t done previously.
Let’s look at how simply recording a podcast from your booth, can generate over 80 different pieces of content for your audience.
Turn your booth into a podcast studio
Whilst yes, it requires a little investment or hiring an external team if you don’t have the skills in-house but over the course of two or three days you could generate over 80 different pieces of content. This can be shared across various mediums where you regularly connect with your audience, paid or organic.
What if you partnered with the organizer to help create this content in a side room for them, with a direct link or viewing to the show floor? Remember that organizers love content…
Let’s break down those one hundred pieces of content a bit further. One thirty-minute podcast could help you generate:
- x1 white paper or report
- x1 Youtube video
- x3 articles – that’s driven from three talking points in your episode
- x6 social media posts – whether video or image-based
All in, from just eight recorded episodes at an event, you’re generating at least 88 new pieces of content, relevant to your industry, shared to your audience for greater engagement all year round. Marketing teams will love this because you’ve just created content that resonates with your customers and prospects, all in 48 hours.
There may be specialists in your industry or publishers already running regular industry reports, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it yourself. Whilst research certainly isn’t new, being able to capture real-time audience feedback or input certainly has been revolutionized over the last few years.
Whilst you could be conducting research for your own product development, you could also find out the latest industry trends in real-time. Why not create a simple survey that can be tapped on a tablet at the front of your booth to begin a new realm of research (or add polls in your speaking session).
This is finger on the pulse, live research that you can then use to share snippets throughout the event and generate more interest in visiting your booth. This content in turn could turn into PR-friendly content to follow up and distribute post-event.
Record a few conversations with experts in the field you’re researching and hey presto… you’ve generated even more content.
So, is exhibiting worth it?
If it means meeting customers and prospects and generating more content to engage with your audience year-round, exhibiting is a no-brainer. It’s no longer about just turning up and hoping people visit your stand.
The future is the ‘event longtail’ where you get so much more out of exhibiting.