Getting visitors to your show is a delicate, crucial task and one that requires a clever mix of marketing. We asked three show organisers: What does a successful visitor promotion campaign look like?
Marketing manager, Industrial group
Each visitor marketing campaign is individual but as we are all aware, there are some key fundamentals.
Pre-show, it’s identifying the core campaign message, media outreach and the individual online, offline, PR and editorial campaigns we run with the publications. This involves identifying who the direct mail campaign will target and segmenting key messages to ensure the best return.
Emails and e-newsletters are important pre-, during and post-show as the most ‘live’ way for us to engage with our audience. Strategic planning is needed to ensure we execute these in the most effective way.
It’s also important to get our exhibitors to promote the show to their databases. Research shows those that do are the ones that have successful shows. All collateral is also tracked so we can look at what campaign elements were and weren’t successful.
Social media (SM) is surrounding us now and we are always looking at ways to incorporate it into our promotion. Again, how well SM can be utilised comes down to industry sector. I manage Reed’s packaging portfolio and most of our visitors aren’t SM savvy. We find Twitter and LinkedIn the most useful tools. I don’t look at this as a deterrent but a challenge to get my audience to engage with new media. It’s also about educating them so they can build it into in-house campaigns and mirror our work.
A key example of this was at the PPMA Show 2011, where we introduced QR codes to all printed collateral for prospects to scan the barcode and register online via their smartphones. This proved successful and led to one of our exhibitors using QR codes on top of his machinery to generate lead emails.
The economic climate has affected marketing spend, but it just means we have to be creative. We all want to attract senior decision-makers and those with purchasing power, so it’s best to interact in a more engaging way. Other channels of communication being integrated into our campaigns are apps, video and interactive PDFs. The best part is we get to play with the marketing mix year-on-year and are always challenged.
National Home Improvement Show, Centaur
The answer to this question depends on who is judging it: The organiser, the exhibitor or the visitor.
To the exhibitor or organiser, the common thinking around what constitutes a successful promotional campaign used to be based on the number of visitors that attended. That may have been the majority view five to 10 years ago, but today a successful promotional campaign is judged not just by visitor numbers but also on the quality, relevance and spending power of the audience you attract.
To the visitor, a successful promotional campaign is one that does what it says on the tin and one that delivers what you have promised.
The National Home Improvement Show prides itself on not only delivering significant numbers through the doors, but also on delivering significant numbers that are relevant, engaged and willing to spend money with our exhibitors.
As you can imagine, a huge chunk of the UK population could be deemed relevant to a home improvement show. However, our exhibitors are only interested in meeting with visitors that have a significant and imminent home improvement project. We run an extensive multi-channel marketing campaign to attract visitors and we then use specific messaging, content and features, (reflecting our value proposition) to qualify that interest and to ensure the right people choose to attend.
The key focus for our visitor promotion campaign is relevance. Once we have attracted a visitor (i.e. they have purchased a ticket) we then tailor our ongoing communications to ensure it matches their reasons for attending. We highlight relevant content, experts, features and exhibitors at the show so that they can get the most out of their visit. This means a lot of work in the background by the marketing team to ensure there is a sufficient range of relevant messaging but it helps to prove to the visitor that the show is worth attending. It also helps to ensure the right visitors meet with the right exhibitors and that the overall show experience is a valuable one.
Spirit show, Clarion events
In order to create a successful campaign, the key audience must be defined in terms of relevance and responsiveness.
At Spirit of Christmas for example, we focus on being consumer-centric and having a strong understanding of our market. The fair has a loyal and niche audience, the majority falling into high net-worth females who live in west London and the Home Counties. Therefore we tailor the fair to reflect their needs and expectations.
Our database is our most valuable tool and we heavily focus on direct marketing as they respond well.
Feedback is essential; you need to know exactly what your key visitor’s expectations are and what drives them to attend. Key content is defined by comprehensive research, focus groups and regular communication to develop brand loyalty and ensure fair content, including the exhibitor mix, matches expectations.
We also work with associate brand partners who promote a ‘shop, dine, socialise’ atmosphere that resonates well with our audience. Our PR works hand-in-hand with marketing and has a targeted strategy to ensure the right nationals, consumer and regional press echo the extensive marketing research.
A level of awareness must be maintained with visitors to keep the brand front-of-mind through continued, relevant and engaging communications. An example is the rise of social media within our focus demographic, which is now key in our marketing strategy.
2010 and 2011 saw record visitor numbers to Spirit of Christmas at Olympia, which reflects an audience less affected by economic conditions. However, continued improvements across all areas of our shows have ensured the Spirit brand is in the best position to weather tough market conditions.
We always weight the promotions campaign towards returning visitors; these loyal visitors are our core audience and encourage new visitors through word-of-mouth. They are in effect our brand ambassadors.
A consumer-centric campaign is vital for success. This in turn not only maintains your loyal visitor base, but increases penetration into your core market through word-of-mouth. It also ensures we always deliver for our 800 exhibitors.
Any comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Republished from the February edition of Exhibition News.