The discussion with Adam Malik in my last article prompted me to think further about what exhibitors want from our events. they are primarily looking for leads that they can convert into customers. What are the quantifiable event metrics and other beneficial aspects that are strongly correlated with achieving that goal? Some of these reference points are captured with data that exhibitors are solely or primarily responsible for gathering via their pre-marketing and booth activity. Others represent areas where event managers can and should provide expert guidance and assistance in other ways that help exhibitors better exploit all the opportunities available from an event.
Here is what exhibitors want from your event:
- Booth traffic: Exhibitors want to know how many attendees visited their booth. This data can help them evaluate the effectiveness of their booth design, marketing materials, and staff. Of course, there is consideration of quality vs. quantity that event organizers try to emphasize, particularly when attendee numbers are down.
- Lead generation: Exhibitors are interested in the number and quality of leads that are generated from the event. This is a subset of booth traffic because it involves the application of lead qualification criteria that help identify prospects that are most likely to convert into customers. This data can help exhibitors measure the success of their marketing efforts and follow up with potential customers after the event.
- Attendee demographics: Exhibitors want to know who attended the event, including demographic/firmographic information such as job title, company size, and industry. This data can help them better understand their target audience and tailor their marketing and sales efforts accordingly. Exhibitor interest in getting this data may collide with event manager practices, as event organizers are unlikely to give up this list, given data privacy and other concerns. As mentioned in my last article, we need to assist exhibitors by offering insights into current and future buying activity, preferably before the event.
- Competitor analysis: Exhibitors likely would be interested in analytics that can help them evaluate their competitors’ performance at an event. This benchmark data can help them identify areas where they can improve their own strategies so that they can match or exceed the efforts of competition. Though exhibitors may want this kind of insight, it is rarely offered by organizers. Perhaps if data could be anonymized and aggregated it would be helpful for an exhibitor to see how well they did versus the show averages (similar to the CEIR Indexes.)
- Social media engagement: Exhibitors want to integrate their physical show activities with their digital marketing, so they will be interested in analytics related to social media engagement: e.g., the number of mentions, likes, shares, and comments related to their booth or brand during the event. This data can help them evaluate the effectiveness of their social media strategy and identify opportunities to engage with attendees online. Delivering this insight can be challenging given the increasingly strict data and personal information privacy laws.
- Press engagement: Exhibitors also are likely to be interested in analytics related to press engagement, such as the number of articles or mentions related to their booth or brand during the event. This data can help them evaluate the effectiveness of their press strategy.
- Opportunities to set themselves apart from their competitors: This includes speaking opportunities, private and public events/parties, the ability to demo their products elsewhere than their booths. Of course, all of these options are sponsorship upsell options.
- One-on-one engagement with decision makers: By this, I mean event organizer-led introductions to key attendees. These can be arranged manually, through matching software, or via hosted buyer events that are integrated within your overall schedule. Both exhibitor and buyer participants need to be mutually excited with these connect opportunities, or this option can be underwhelming for exhibitors.
Ultimately the exhibitors want help from an event organizer so that their customer acquisition efforts are more successful in terms of the number and quality of leads. This kind of guidance often is not provided, as it goes beyond traditional event engagement tactics (e.g., where to stand and what to do in the booth.) It extends to how to improve lead processing, how to better engage with prospects, and offers creative ways for collaboration between event managers and exhibitors that helps ensure the exhibitor’s investment in the event pays off. I find that these types of enhanced deliverables have become increasingly important as business for everyone in the event market gets tougher.
How will you, the event organizer, respond?