Stephen Blackie, event sales director – B2B, at Media 10 says exhibitors and organisers should work together to create better shows.
As an event organiser you will undoubtedly have heard exhibitors say, “yesterday was quiet” or “no one was here”.
I have heard this quite a few times over the years, even during shows in which there were more than 10,000 people through the doors in a day and neighbouring stands could have had five more sales people on the stand and still not kept up.
The most common response from sales people is to talk about the numbers and the success of everyone else at the show. Hey presto, the exhibitor is now really happy, right? Of course not. I have always found this response from sales people does nothing more than to further displease them. It can cause a disharmonious relationship between you and the exhibitor, or worse, result in distrust between you and now, very possibly, your ex-customer!
Everyone leads a hectic schedule these days; any time spent out of the office has to be justified. Buyers will now only go to shows that have what they want and enough of it. How can an organiser talk about every single product or supplier in their campaign when you consider hundreds of exhibitors showcasing thousands of products? It is simple; they can’t.
This is a team effort. More than ever before exhibitors and organisers must work together to achieve the most successful and profitable outcome for all parties. Organisers need to let the industry know about the event; exhibitors need to let buyers know they are going to be at it. Collectively, exhibitors have the biggest database an organiser could ever wish for, not only will this help boost your show attendance, but even better it is a readily available resource which doesn’t require much further investment on either side.
At Media 10, we have created an extensive marketing tool kit giving exhibitors a range of promotional opportunities, which enables them to raise their company profile and broadcast their message further pre-show. These tools allow exhibitors to become a destination stand at each event, starting from the day they join the show.
• Firstly, the exhibitor posts an announcement across their social media channels regarding their presence at the event. Submit full and detailed company profile on their exhibitor listing. Additionally, the event logo is added to the company website, email signatures, invoices etc.
• Closer to the show, this could develop to a feature in a monthly newsletter; plus the show logo and stand number added to their print advertising, direct mail and any print material. They could write a blog or new story to be published on the show website.
• Lastly, going full steam in the few weeks before the exhibition with dedicated mail campaigns, using a unique link to track their registration, VIP invitations, reps on the road and perhaps a telemarketing team booking appointments on the stand during the show.
This is great to have but it only works if the exhibitor uses it, and it is our job to make sure that they do. “That’s not my job”, you might hear some say or, slightly better, but still nowhere near enough, “I sent the client the marketing tool kit but they never come back to me with anything”.
Salesperson or account manager? How do you see yourself?
A salesperson will sell the benefits of the show and the marketing extras and will win the deal; an account manager will deliver those benefits and win a client for life.
This will of course require a bit more effort from you as exhibitors need a lot of pushing in my experience, but it is not impossible and not without rewards if you do. This might mean you coming in to the office early, working through lunch or staying late every now again to do some of this work. It might even need you to do some of the work for them but think of the trust and respect the client will have in you in the future.
Think about how much they will value your efforts to making their show a success for their business. Think of the loyalty they will show you and your event. Recently, I saw a salesperson transform into an account manager and witnessed their rebooking rate increase in one show cycle from 39 per cent to 89 per cent – think about that!
Do it and no longer will exhibitors need to hope for luck or chance on the day but can already be confident they will achieve their objectives, making their show experience a positive as well as rewarding one (a really important factor so often forgotten about). Busy stands always attract more people, so the exhibitor will be increasing their ‘luck’ and ultimately increasing their success from the event if they do.
Don’t do it… You know where I’m going with this.
The easiest sale is always to a happy customer, so strive to turn all your customers into happy ones. The mind-set has to be one of an account manager, not as a sales person; and that you’re both in this together. When the exhibitors win, so do you and your event.
Finally, do the hard work before the event: apply great account management and you most likely will never hear those disparaging comments again.