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Trade Show Marketers Need to Prep to Ride 2019 Growth

Demand for meetings and events is projected to rise worldwide next year, pushing the global market up by 10% and boosting attendance numbers in North America by 14%, according to the “2019 Meetings & Events Future Trends” report from Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT). But AccuList USA’s trade show marketing clients will still need to address new attendee expectations if they want to catch that market wave.

Planners Focus on Attendee Experience in 2019

In fact, the CWT report found that attendee experience was the concern that was top of mind for planners, including delivery and tracking of attendees through innovative applications of technology, use of unique venues, and more engaging and interactive content. Along those lines, Ryan Gould, vice president of strategy and marketing services for Elevation Marketing, recently posted about five key trends affecting 2019 attendee experience. First, he urges marketers to commit to an experiential, customer-centric booth design that goes beyond square footage and demo stations to address comfort, engagement and interaction, with a focus on a big first impression.

Multisensory Booths Create Brand Connections

One way to enhance experiential booth design is to create a multisensory experience, with unique lighting design, touch-panel interfaces, gamification, interactive displays, and even scent marketing that uses attractive aromas to capture visitors. Think it’s nonsense? The respected Harvard Business Review concludes that amplifying the sensory qualities of your exhibit is a top way to get attendees connecting with your brand, notes Gould.

Virtual Reality Now a Proven Sales Tool

When it comes to multisensory options, Virtual Reality (VR) has earned a big buzz in the trade show market. VR both shows prospects that a brand is tech-savvy and creates interaction beyond the typical sales rep chat.  In fact, Gould points out, studies show that 53% of customers are more likely to buy from a brand that uses VR than one that doesn’t. Plus, proliferation of VR platforms has increased affordability, with VR app Google Cardboard now available for as little as $10 as an example.

Attendee Comfort Draws & Keeps Crowds

It’s exhausting to spend a day walking a trade show, so exhibitors who offer lounge areas are luring attendees into their booths and keeping them there for extended periods of time (including a sales pitch, of course). Savvier marketers have been adding charging stations along with comfy lounge chairs to further draw visitors, applying the lessons from crowded airport or mall public USB ports.

Sophisticated Light Shows Wow & Woo

A trade show booth with a single flat-screen TV for presentations is now behind the technology curve.  With technology advances, you can transform the entire space using multiple screens and unique lighting elements to direct visitors to specific displays or products. Use of 3D projection mapping can further transform a space, turning a whole wall into a 3D video image or projecting a personalized image on a prop, statue or other surface. Gould urges marketers to make creative use of light and shadow to wow visitors and woo sales.

For more forecasts of the 2019 meeting and event market, see https://www.tsnn.com/news/meetings-events-future-trends-report-predicts-2019-market-increase

 

Use Direct Mail to Push Trade Show Attendance Ahead of the Pack

After many years of supporting the marketing of trade show and conference managers and exhibitors, AccuList USA can attest to the continued power of direct mail in building audience. While exhibitors who do a pre-show campaign 1-2 months before a show can increase attendance by up to 50%, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, a post by the NextPage agency recently explained how direct mail will push those pre-event promotional efforts several steps ahead of competitors.

Make Direct Mail an Engaging, Personalized Invitation

Show marketers looking for an edge with multi-channel audiences will embrace direct mail’s higher response rates and retention rates, urges NextPage, leveraging the deliverability of a tactile and visual attention-getter in an era of crowded digital mailboxes and websites. By combining variable printing with segmented list targeting, savvy marketers can create a pre-event mailing that is highly personalized. Custom shapes and dimensional options, textured paper, intriguing folds, eye-catching graphics and taglines, and more will then help mailings stand out and engage.

Include Incentives That Spur Booth Visits

NextPage also advises including an incentive in the mailer to spur booth visits, such as a raffle ticket or product sample. Creativity pays off, and the blog cites some incentive success stories. For example, trade show expert Marlys Arnold uses scavenger hunts in pre-show campaigns, with a direct mail piece that lists five questions and gives a web address where attendees can print off an answer sheet to fill out and bring to the show. She reports earning satisfying lines at her booths compared with more passive giveaways. In another example, independent copywriter named Mark Johnson wanted to target subscription newsletter marketers at a Las Vegas Conference and created a special website with case studies and a free offer that he touted in a postcard. The free offer was an exclusive 30-minute consultation with Johnson to review current marketing campaigns. Johnson rented the conference association’s membership list and mailed the card only to qualified leads five weeks before the show. Out of 400 pieces mailed, 406 people visited his site, and he generated five solid leads!

Use Targeted Lists of Qualified Prospects

Yet the real key to success with a direct mail campaign is targeting of qualified leads, starting with a list of current clients and prospects and moving on to lists of registered attendees, association members, subscribers to relevant trade publications and newsletters, multi-channel buyers of relevant products, etc.  Marketers can then segment and tailor messaging by geography, industry, product interest, title, firm-ographic data (such as number of employees) to increase response.

For more direct mail advice, see the blog post.

Event Marketing Pros Foresee Spending Boost

Many of AccuList USA’s trade show and conference marketers are already looking ahead to 2018, and event technology firm Bizzabo’s recent “Event Marketing 2018: Benchmarks and Trends” report has some good news: Event marketers and business execs plan to invest more in live events in future.

Marketers & C-Suite Plan More Dollars for Events

One of the key findings of Bizzabo’s global survey of 400 mid- to senior-level marketers is that most event marketers believe that events are the single most effective marketing channel, better than e-mail, social media, and digital and traditional advertising. The majority also plan to invest more in future live events, both in terms of budget (63%) and number of events (63%). Plus, the majority (91%) of businesses with top performance place a greater emphasis on live events as a marketing channel than the underperforming businesses or businesses performing as expected–and those overperforming businesses plan to grow their event marketing budgets by more than the rest. Regardless of performance, an overwhelming majority of C-Suite executives surveyed (87%) say they believe in the power of live events and plan on investing more in the future.

But Event Success Still Doesn’t Come Easy

Though event marketers and executives have confidence in the marketing effectiveness of B2B trade shows and conferences, that doesn’t mean they think success is assured. In another survey, Bizzabo asked leading event marketers for advice on overcoming common event hurdles. For example, what if attendance is sparse? To avoid staring at an empty hall in horror, make sure the event is clearly advertised on all social media profiles, blog, and website, including paid ads; empower those who have already committed attendance (especially speakers) to be event ambassadors by sharing the event on their own social media profiles and websites; and use RSVPs to keep attendees accountable. Then what if the attendees are there, but enthusiasm is low? To boost engagement, the pros suggest crowdsourcing questions for interviews and round tables before the event; creating hangouts or webinars related to event sessions; and sending segmented e-mails based on registration data to get attendees pumped up for specific aspects. So how do you get data in real-time to keep steering the event toward success? There are now mobile event apps that can track every touch, and mobile polls and surveys can instantly collate results. Beacons can measure crowd movement and dwell-time in exhibit booths, and social sentiment analytics tools can get direct, immediate feedback. To see solutions to nine common problems–including managing multi-track events, avoiding long lines, planning social media effectively and more–go to https://blog.bizzabo.com/event-marketing-nightmares-and-how-to-solve-them

 

 

Survey: Mismatches in Event Marketing Channels, Attendee Interest

Where should trade show and conference marketers go fishing for potential audience? In a multi-channel world, it can be challenging to balance online, e-mail, print and social media for best results. Now a recent survey by XING Events, as reported by MarketingProfs, shows interesting gaps between where event marketers are casting their nets and where potential attendees pool to research events.

Event Attendees Are Drawn by Word-of-Mouth & E-mail

According the the XING Events study, which is based on a global survey of 2,621 event attendees and 1,630 event organizers, event attendees most often learn about work-related events through word-of-mouth mention by friends and acquaintances (66%) and via e-mail newsletters (59%). Fewer event attendees (20%) report being influenced by ads for print and online professional publishing. Online search has more impact when the audience is already aware of the event; for example, 49% say they use online search to find details about trade shows or conferences they already have heard about (via word-of-mouth, e-mail or print). Just 22% learn about an event by doing keyword searches. However, an even smaller portion (16%) of event attendees report that they use social media to research events.

Event Marketers Focus on Websites, E-mail & Social Media

Event marketers don’t exactly mirror attendees’ preferences. About 89% of surveyed event organizers say they market their events through their own websites, culling search traffic. Some 76% say they market through e-mail newsletters, which is in line with attendee activity. The surprise is that 73% of event pros say they promote via social media even though it is not where most of the audience is currently looking for event information.  And about 47% use traditional print channels.

Event Planners Foresee Social Media Expansion

Despite its current lower usage among event attendees, social media is the marketing channel that most event marketers plan to grow in future. Some 65% of organizers say they would like to use social media more frequently in the future. The next most popular target for expanded investment is their own websites (48%) and e-mail (41%). Although “influencer marketing” is a trendy topic, only 33% of event pros plan to increase influencer or multiplicator marketing to pump word-of-mouth.

For more study results, see https://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2017/32765/how-events-are-marketed-to-and-found-by-attendees?adref=nlt091817