No matter what size the event is, you will need to invest resources into preparing for and attending the event including time, money and perhaps staff. To ensure you get the most benefit from this investment it is important you put some careful thought and planning into how you approach this type of marketing.
This article provides an overview of what you need to consider when planning and preparing for an event. It will help you get maximum benefit from your investment.
IDENTIFY WHAT TYPE OF EVENTS ARE MOST SUITED TO PROMOTING YOUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
To do this you will need a good understanding of your target market to help you identify what type of events they are most likely to attend.
IDENTIFY THE EVENT/S YOU WISH TO ATTEND
Find out what events are held that would be suited to your target market. Use the internet, contact local councils and art galleries, read newspapers, ask others…
If at all possible attend the event as a spectator first or attend a similar event. Really take notice of what other business owners are doing with their sites. Take notes, ask questions – this is your chance to really find out what is required and how to best approach this type of marketing. What sites really stand out? What sites look scruffy and why? What sort of people are at these events – are they really the type of customer that would be interested in your product or service.
IDENTIFY THE PRACTICAL STUFF
Once you know which event/s you are going to attend, contact the organizers as soon as possible and find out how things work, what facilities are available and any other information that will help you prepare your display.
- Find out how much space you will have. If your stand is complex, get exact measurements. You will need exact measurements for printing banners and other signage and you will want to know how much room you have so your display looks complete but not overcrowded.
- Will you be in a covered area or do you need to supply your own cover? If you are outside and have to supply your own cover, make sure it’s sturdy enough to handle wind and rain – just in case… and that any products that can get damaged by the weather will be well protected.
- How far will your vehicle be parked from your site? You may need to organize help carrying your display material to your site or need more time to set everything up.
- If inside, are there partitions to fix promotional material to and if so, what will you need to do this? If there are no partitions, will you need to organize some yourself?
- Power, water… what other services will you require?
PLAN HOW YOU ARE GOING TO DISPLAY AND PROMOTE YOUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Once you know what you have to work with, you can start planning your display.
- If your stand is complex, draw up a scale plan of where everything will be positioned, including each wall if applicable.
- Will it benefit your product to allow people to walk in and around your display or is it better that you display your products on a table with you standing/serving behind the table? The type of event can influence this to a certain extent.
- How are you going to entice people to your site? Competitions, moving display items, music (check with the organizers first and if they allow it be respectful of your neighbors), if you want to run a competition ask the organizers if they would like to promote the competition in their marketing material – it can be a win win, it gives them something to help draw crowds and you get some free advertising.
- If you plan to give away items such as food, wine, balloons or other items please check with the organizers first. For small events in particular, it may not be fair on other stallholders who are selling these items.
- Decide how you are going to collect prospective customer information if that is relevant to your business. This can be a great opportunity to collect names, contact details and email addresses for further promotions in the future or email newsletters.
- Where will you sit/stand? Do you need chairs and tables for visitors to your stand?
- What display material and other equipment do you need? Banners, posters, stands, tables, chairs, flooring, pot plants, backing sheets, signage, brochures, business cards, table covers, food and drink for you – it can be a long day, and anything else you think you will need.
- What will you wear? If you will be standing all day wear appropriate shoes. If the day is hot keep this in mind – your site might be positioned in direct sunlight for several hours.
- How are you going to talk to people? How do you want to talk about your products and services? Perhaps jot down a few notes so you don’t overlook anything important.
- Presentation is everything. Try and tie all your presentation and display material into your brand. If your brand colors are red, green and black – don’t go for a pink chair! Look for something the same color as your brand or perhaps something neutral such as silver or white as a last resort. Make sure your logo, business cards and other marketing material look tidy and professional and are consistent with the rest of your brand.
Draft up a budget. Take into account your time (to organize the event, set up for the event, attend the event, and tidy after the event), additional staff, loss of income if you are not able to carry out your normal working day because of the event and any other costs that you will incur such as display material, stock etc.
ORGANIZE YOUR DISPLAY MATERIAL… WELL IN ADVANCE!
Make sure you allow plenty of time to organize everything. Give your designer a call as soon as you can to find out how much time they will need to organize the job for you, especially if they are organizing the printing as well. Order in stock with plenty of time to spare in case something goes wrong. You want to be calm and relaxed on the day – not feeling like a frazzle from running around at the last minute trying to get everything finalized.
Yay – the day has finally arrived. You have had lots of rest, are full of energy, look amazing and are rearing to get out there and promote your products and services. Yeah right – probably not after organizing for the event as well as keeping on top of business – ignore it, you can rest at the end of the day!
Try and get to the event well in advance to give you plenty of time to set everything up – and allow time to spare for the inevitable last minute oversights.
It’s time to start promoting your business. How you do this will depend on many things, including the type of product or service you have, your level of confidence and comfort level – it can take one or two events to really get comfortable for some people, and the type of people attending the event. Engage with people walking by, smile and chat with them to make them feel welcome… and don’t forget to give them a business card and take their details if they are happy to give them.
AFTER THE EVENT
- Follow up with any contacts you have made during the event. Try and do this within a week of the event, two at the most.
- Spend an hour or so reviewing the event before you forget anything. You want to learn from each experience and continue improving your presentation and promotional methods. Make notes of what you want to remember next time. Now is a good time to write a checklist for next time and a template timeline.
WILL THERE BE A NEXT TIME?
It could be some time in the future before you really know if attending the event has been a worthwhile marketing strategy for your business or not. You may never be able to assess the full extent of how your business benefited from the event. Marketing and advertising is the perfect example of the phrase ‘the sum is greater than it’s parts’. An effective marketing strategy is made up of many parts; vehicle signage, advertisements, consistent look and feel of all your marketing material, sponsorship, brochures, mail-outs, attending events… depending on your business. It is the combined effect of all these elements that has the real power. That’s why it is important to follow up with contacts made, perhaps do further follow up advertising three or four weeks after the event targeted at the same people who attended the event or think of other ways you can remind attendees of the event about your business.
THIS METHOD OF PROMOTING YOUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES ISN’T RIGHT FOR EVERY BUSINESS
You will need to decide if this is in fact the best way to spend your marketing budget. If for example your primary target market is global then attending a local school gala obviously isn’t likely to be worthwhile to you… do keep an open mind though, they may have international feature guests at the event!
This is a very summarized overview. How you approach a small school gala will be quite different to attending large trade shows. There are many more considerations you need to take into account if you are attending international trade shows or events.
Good luck with your next event. You are welcome to contact me if you have any questions or need help organizing your next event. I can help you with designing your site layout, designing and printing your promotional material and give you ideas on ways you can let people know you will be at the event to help you further promote your business. If you have any feedback, comments or suggestions that may help others please feel free to leave a comment below.
AND FINALLY – THE NUMBER ONE TIP IF YOU DO DECIDE TO TRY THIS TYPE OF MARKETING…
DON’T LEAVE THINGS UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE!
You can almost guarantee that when you pull out the kit set shelving your products will be displayed on from its box the color will be wrong or a ‘bit’ will be missing. Or, something will break or you will realize you have run out of tape… don’t do as I did for the last event and leave everything until the day before when all the shops are closed and you have no time left for those unexpected ‘things’!
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