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Ensuring your exhibitors have the largest return on investment (ROI) possible is just as important as attendees having an enjoyable experience. With a poor return on their investment, exhibitors won’t be back. And without them, you’ve lost a significant amount of revenue and you’ll need to fill their spots in the future.
One of the easiest ways to ensure they have what they need to succeed is to employ technology that makes interaction easier, visibility better, and produces more worthwhile connections. After all, traffic to the booth won’t matter, if it’s not their ideal client.
The Basics of What You Need to Provide Vendors
While some of the onus must be placed on them to close the deal, or at least get people interested, ensuring you have the right crowd is important to increasing exhibitor ROI. There are also a few other things you want to do for them such as:
- Manage their expectations
- Educate them on best practices in reaching your audience (every exhibitor won’t need this but a number will and they’ll appreciate it)
- Explain the value of multiple touch points in the before, during, and after event
- Detail sponsorships that could get them additional exposure
Finally, you need to do your best to understand their needs and goals for your event. Make sure their expectations are achievable based on your audience.
Using Technology to Increase Exhibitor ROI
There are three stages of every event from an exhibitor perspective. Two out of the three are often overlooked so we’re breaking down these stages to show what you can do at each point.
While your exhibitors are thinking about travel plans and booth design, they should also be marketing the event and letting customers and future customers know where they’ll be. Help them do this by using a central point in the cloud to share marketing materials such as:
- Event logos
- Email signatures
- Web banners
- Exhibitor badge for their website
- Sample promotional content
- Email invites
Booth Selection. Booth location is also critical to ROI. Use an event management system that allows your exhibitors to make those selections online in real-time. Some allow for wait lists for spots as well.
Exhibitor Meetings. After the marketing toolkit, suggest that they begin inviting customers and future customers to meet with them at your event. Make sure they don’t expect that attendees will just drop by. Some of them will, but they should do everything they can to ensure the ones they want to see get seen. Give your exhibitors the technology to make scheduling these meetings easy.
Exhibitor Webinar. There are always event specifics that must be adhered to and best practices that exhibitors don’t know. Host a webinar so that everyone has the information they need to be successful. Add value for your exhibitors by including information such as tips to having a successful booth or cutting costs at events. Don’t expect that their company has shared the secrets to event ROI. Instead, help your exhibitors discover them.
At the Event
Making connections is one of the most important things to exhibitors as it’s the first step to sales these days. Technology can make it easy for them.
Electronic Exchanges. Don’t expect your exhibitors to make it home with all the business cards they were given or once they do, remember who was a hot lead and who was just kicking tires. Instead, enable some form of electronic exchange. Some events use electronic badge scanners with CRM capabilities, while others use tech that lets you photograph business cards.
Beacons. Many of these options can work from a smartphone and don’t require scanners. But there’s another generation of tech that goes beyond scanners and uses wearables that instantly exchange information. It’s called beacon technology because the devices send out beacons that interact with specific smartphone apps or receivers.
Matchmaking Software. Networking is easier and more fun when you use matchmaking software at your event. This type of app helps exhibitors connect with people who are ideal fits for their business. The attendee shares what they are looking for and the app matches their needs to a vendor that can fulfill them. There are also technology tools that allow networkers/exhibitors to decide if someone is a good lead with a quick swipe right or should be tabled for another time, swipe left.
Scavenger Hunt App. Your main goal for your exhibitors while the event is occurring is to drive traffic to the exhibit floor. You can do this by making it the hub of activity by serving snacks there, creating a bookstore, hosting book signings, a fashion show, play zone, anything that will get people assembled there.
Another way to drive traffic is through gamification, a passport contest, or a scavenger hunt app. While the details may vary about how traffic is directed with each of these, the idea remains the same - you’re incentivizing your attendees to visit your exhibitors. The National Automobile Dealers Association used a scavenger app at its convention driving traffic and offering exciting rewards.
So at this point, your exhibitors are stuffing their paper leads into a duffle bag and will hand them over to an admin or enter them into their CMS. Then what happens? Following up is almost as critical as the connections they make at the event. Help them stay connected with your attendees through tech and ensure they’re sending the right message when they do.
Education. Again, giving your exhibitors the tools they need to follow up will give them a lot of value. Plus, the more you’re able to stay connected with them outside of the event, the greater the chance that they will return or work with you in the future. Creating a few pieces of vital content for them is helpful and smart. Use email and a drip marketing campaign with your exhibitors giving them a new tip every few days or create a digital repository where they can access this information.
Online Community. An online community is a great way to continue the conversations after the event. However, it’s important that you set expectations that no heavy sales will be allowed. The point of community is to connect and have meaningful conversations, not hard pitches. Hard sells will make your online community a ghost town.
Technology can help your exhibitors streamline their tasks and meet more people. When paired with data, it can also help them uncover opportunities they didn’t realize were there. But never underestimate the need for your guidance when it comes to best practices. By adding that kind of value to the experience, you’re making a lasting impression on your vendors and you’re more apt to see them again.