The unsung heroes of many corporate events are the sponsors, partners and exhibitors (collectively exhibitors) who pay for the privilege of creating your show floor. Their staffs, displays, door prizes and enthusiasm – to say nothing of their financial contributions – are essential to creating a buzz around your event.
A vibrant show floor is essential to demonstrating market leadership.
Exhibitors and attendees have one thing in common – they both expect to get a return on the time and money they spend attending your event. (Obviously each group has specific interests, most of which do not overlap with each other or with yours…) Engaging your exhibitors is an important key to creating energy at your event. Satisfying the needs of exhibitors is the best way to earn their loyalty and ensure their long term support for your marketing program. While it is tempting to look at exhibitors strictly from the perspective of the value of the “package” and the “opportunities” it affords “them”, that approach badly misses the point.
All of our work for commercial tradeshow producers like Ziff and IDG makes it clear that the thing an exhibitor values most, the thing that makes a conference “hot” or “a dog” is whether or not they have the chance to talk to people whom they believe are likely to buy their product, service or solution.
We call this process audience alignment, and we believe that it is the most important thing a corporate event team can do to enhance the attendee show floor experience.
Demonstrate to your exhibitors that you are delivering their target audience.
There are many ways to align your exhibitors and attendees.
Today we’ll look at the first in a series of tactics you can use to begin to align the needs of your exhibitors with the interest of your attendees.
Your registration and event measurement programs both should contain information that is of value to your exhibitors and potential exhibitors.
A simple but effective strategy is to assemble an attendee profile based on historical data that your sales team can share with their prospects. This type of profile provides demographic information about title, department, industry, purchase role, location and other variables specific to your industry. In addition, we often recommend including post event survey data specific to attendees interacted with exhibitors – time spent, booths visited, meetings requested and so on.
Finally, if you do an exhibitor survey (something we generally recommend) you can provide data about leads collected and other metrics.
Keep in mind that there will always be sales people who are reluctant to share this type of information because it could “cost them a sale”. While it may initially seem counter-intuitive, when you stop to think about your long term goals for the event, this type of transparency enhances the value of participation in two important ways
.First, if your audience profile is not of interest to an exhibitor, you really don’t want them on your show floor. Not only are they going to be unhappy, they are not going to have the kinds of offerings that your audience is looking for. Which makes it a lose – lose – lose situation for the attendee, the exhibitor and your company… which is something to be avoided at all costs.
Second, many exhibitors will use these insights to tune their offering to your attendees. Whether this takes the shape of bringing the right product experts, developing the right seminar or keynote content, featuring the appropriate demos or simply having the right literature on hand; these kinds of actions are an essential part of creating a high quality attendee experience.
A logical and excellent complement to a historical audience profile, is an up-to-date profile based on registration data delivered immediately before the show opens. This helps booth staffs to understand who is likely to be visiting them, something they will no doubt confirm through their own data collection.
A related concept that we are exploring in the Event Measurement Best Practices Survey is the use of RFID technology to create daily reports about booth traffic. If nothing else, this can go a long way to countering the argument that “we had no traffic” or “nobody was qualified”.
What kinds of things are you doing to ensure that your exhibitors are getting the most out of participating in your event? What is the biggest challenge you face?
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