Face-to-face engagement with customers is a vital opportunity to transact, interrogate and engage with your customer. Live events – when done well – can be one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways of engaging your customer, but do them badly and they become a drain on both resource and budget.
Here are a few things I’d recommend you do to ensure maximum value from the event:
1. Set SMART Objectives
Decide as early as possible:
• What return are you looking for from the activity? Lead sourcing? Branding? Low-volume, high-value retail? High-value, low-volume retail? Product launch? Market research? New / existing customer engagement?
• How much is that return worth to your business?
• How much are you willing to spend to achieve that return?
Ideally you should decide this before booking a venue/exhibition stand, and continually assess your performance against the objectives throughout the delivery phase. Make sure you share these objectives with everyone involved in the event (including your suppliers.)
2. Some Top Tips
The live experience should match your event objectives and your company value proposition. Work backwards from the objectives to the event delivery. Beautiful events and stands don’t always deliver the best results! Consider the following:
• Branding should be clear and concise. Is it obvious to a lay person what you do? Is your logo visible and legible? Signage should be a tease and not the whole story – drive your customers to talk to your team.
• Manage the layout – are visitors / delegates able to clearly view your products or materials? For exhibitions, your stands should be open and inviting – be careful to not block access to your stand with displays or closed walls. A stand is a shop window into your business and the bigger and more accessible sides you have, the bigger the opportunity to engage with your customer.
• Take the right team – make sure everyone on your stand has a clearly defined role and a target for the event. What do you expect of them and how will you reward/recognise them? Have a ‘stand leader’ who regularly checks in with the team and measures performance against targets. No-one should ever be eating, sat down or working on a lap top on your stand. Not everyone in your team will be willing to ‘talk to strangers’ so make sure you have the right people in the right places.
• Manage your time – give your team breaks and make sure that the stand is appropriately staffed for the busiest times of the show. Everyone (no matter seniority) should clock in and out with the stand manager before leaving the stand.
• Track everything – record and classify every lead you get. Decide how you will do this pre-event and make sure that you are scoring against your objectives. Lead scanners or lead capture forms are easy to prepare and make it easy to track effectiveness of event (especially if doing the event multiple times).
• Follow up your leads. For exhibitions, make sure you send a ‘thank you’ e-mail with follow up information that evening. It is more effective, sustainable and cost-effective than giving away hundreds of brochures.
Never do an event because you ‘need to be there’ or you’ve ‘always done it’ – treat every event like it’s your first.
Mike’s latest and most exciting venture is the National Running Show, which takes place on 20 & 21 January 2018 at Birmingham’s NEC. As a runner himself, Mike saw a gap in the market and developed what will be the UK’s first dedicated non-race affiliated show solely for runners. It promises to be the event to attend for runners of all ages, abilities and interests.