How to retain exhibitors

Let’s face it, your exhibitors have a wide variety of options to spend their marketing budgets on. Your event is just one line item in a sea of activities. Events have had a challenging few years, we all know that, but what can we do to ensure exhibitors spend money on your event?

Dahlia El Gazzar

New challenges 

Let’s have a look at four big challenges we’ve had to overcome when it comes to exhibitors:

  1. Owned events – marketers are hiring teams and becoming experts themselves at creating events for their own customers and prospects. I mean, why wouldn’t they? Captive audience, no competitors trying to steal their customers. Sounds pretty good! 
  2. Digital marketing – everyone is becoming savvy about digital spend. For a much lower investment than a traditional event, maybe only a couple of hundred dollars. For example, you can attract an audience of thousands to get eyes on your brand. They still need to drive conversion, but are they the right people looking at your ads? Hmm…
  3. More choice - We’re seeing more regional “hub and spoke” style events pop up around the globe. It may not be the main event but could be a smaller, regional, more targeted event which reaches a particular audience, rather than your annual “major industry event”. How do you respond? 
  4. Travel and entertainment – having spent the last few years spending only on essential business travel and entertainment, use cases for events are being reevaluated based on their impact on the bottom line and the environment. Not going to a physical event saves a company money. Ouch, that one hurts for any event prof right? We want their money don’t we? 

Well, this is awkward isn’t it? So far, four pretty big factors are pulling exhibitors away from exhibiting at your events. 

What can you do to help attract, engage and retain exhibitors from churning?  

Let’s take each of these pain points that influence decisions on whether someone exhibits at your event and see how we can help reduce churn. 

Owned events vs new data

In a world where we are bombarded with advertising from all sides, it's easy to become numb to the constant stream of commercial messages seen. If every supplier starts creating their own events, you will likely feel as though you’re being invited to a pitch-fest, so maybe we will just ignore their invite?

Events and exhibitions provide a welcome respite from the noise, giving people a chance to engage with brands and products in a more personalised setting.  This is where data comes in. 

Using platforms such as Grip, with its artificial intelligence-powered capabilities, when an exhibitor completes their profile and selects their product categories, they will be provided with recommendations to engage with new customers. They will pay large sums for these new connections where your platform can generate valuable meetings, many of them pre-scheduled before the event even begins. This enables exhibitors to predict what sort of return they will get from the show and perhaps make budget-based decisions on how many staff to send, how much to spend on accommodation and so on. 

Digital marketing vs digital event opportunities

How do you compete with the world and all its potential data? If you’re an established event organiser (e.g. you’ve hosted at least one show previously), you have an incredibly powerful tool waiting to be utilised for your exhibitors: your data. You have already done the hard work in attracting the exhibitors’ target audience so you should be looking at retargeting ad software such as Tag Digital’s Audience Extension program, where you have the ability to connect your exhibitors with their target audience. 

“Audience Extension connects exhibitors with their target audience, by sending traffic to your exhibitors’ websites, using existing data, for example previous show visitors, as well as website cookies. You can ensure high-quality audience exposure for your clients and generate a strong return on investment, purely through digital.” - Tag Digital

You generate additional revenue, your exhibitors generate additional quality leads, you’re both happy. Yay, data!

More choice vs your choice 

Organisers have developed “Seasons” of opportunities. For example, Precision Communities has ‘Basecamps’ (virtual networking and content), ‘Camps’ (more regular learning and meet ups) and the ‘Summit’: its main event each year where everyone comes together at a hybrid event to meet up, learn and do business. 

The evolution of event technology has made these opportunities more cost effective than ever before to run. Event tech enables you to offer new opportunities to your exhibitors and engage with your audience in the lead up to your main event – anywhere in the world. Analyse your data, look at regional hot spots, see if you can engage with these micro-communities to provide greater value back to your event participants, be they visitors or exhibitors. 

Travel and entertainment spend vs in-person 

The phrase ‘travel and entertainment’ goes hand in hand with networking, events and doing business, doesn’t it? While it’s no secret many companies are still feeling the effects of a couple of years without lots of in-person contact with clients, business leaders realise just how important meeting face-to-face can be for building relationships and doing business, even if it means taking time off from their normal routine! 

So let’s prove it. Dive into your software analytics and see how data can help sway the decision when someone is balancing their budgets with attending your event. 

To learn more about how to retain your exhibitors, book a call with one of our experts.

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