Christine Martin, executive director, marketing & customer experience at GES EMEA on why VIPs are VIP.
Audience acquisition has moved from being a numbers game to a serious discussion around visitor quality. Marketers and event brand owners are buzzing with talk about how they should measure and attract the visitors who are the true ‘value creators’ on the show floor.
Recent UFI/Explori research shows a disturbing lack of trust from exhibitors in the accuracy of the visitor data supplied by organisers.
One element that is coming under particular scrutiny is the customary VIP programme. As exhibitors and organisers are becoming more data-literate, it is more obvious that the average trade show floor has seen VIP ‘creep’ with almost everyone qualifying for special status.
So, how do you define a VIP?
Using simple, self-reported registration data is an obvious starting point. However, this data is not usually validated, leading to potential extravagant claims from visitors that only fuels exhibitors’ distrust in their exhibition experience. With digital marketing platforms now tracking ‘buyer intent’ to make targeting even more precise and effective, is this a measurement we should be looking to adopt – and is it transferable to the marketing world?
Identifying visitors who are truly ‘value creators’ requires a data driven approach. Firmographic data, budget and authority to spend are all important in defining VIP status, but how about overlaying this with visitors who really engage with your show? The true ‘value creators’ are curious buyers, who actively engage with your exhibitors, seminar programmes, features, networking tools and social media channels.
Behavioural insight is golden
Capturing the full visitor journey is now possible; with Visit Touchpoints you can even track post-show consumption of digital content collected around the show. This behavioural data creates insight into how visitors behave during their time at your event, which can be used for commercial value, and to drive audience acquisition strategies.
Suddenly, a VIP is a customer that behaves in a way that truly drives value to your show.
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that people who are active on social media are social in real life too – so if you want a buzzing show floor targeting heavy social media users and influencers could be a key part of your VIP strategy. Now it’s possible to replace the ‘spray and pray’ approach to visitor acquisition with a highly targeted marketing campaign that identifies VIPs using a balance scorecard with buyer intent and a propensity to engage as important as budget.
Data drives revenue
Redefining the VIP will reap financial dividends too. A data validated VIP experience programme will attract sponsorship, drive exhibitor ROI and boost retention and rebook. It will make your visitor marketing more effective and encourage referrals; it’s a business imperative, not an optional extra.
This article recently featured in the December issue of Exhibition News magazine. For more content like this, click here.