Lots of visitors made it to the show, but could it have been even busier?
Anyone who has ever organised a party will tell you that one of their big fears is guests not turning up.
Guess what, trade show organisers feel the same way.
In fact, it’s their biggest fear because lack of attendance to their event can be catastrophic to their business.
Trade show organising – it’s a bit like planning a party
When I’m asked “what does a trade show organiser do?” the fastest way to explain things, is to compare organising an event to organising a party.
- For a party, the host goes to a lot of trouble and expense. They do this to create what they hope will be a great event for all the guests they have invited
- They have to organise a venue. This may be their home or somewhere purpose-built
- Then there’s catering to arrange, music to be planned, sometimes, a decision on a theme, perhaps one that involves fancy dress
- Invitations need to be sent
- Accommodation arranged for guests who need to sleep over….a host of details large and small. And all of this work, effort and expense will be for nothing if only a few of the people expected to attend actually come on the big day or evening
That’s what being a trade show organiser is like (fancy dress is not usually obligatory).
As an organiser, you go through this organising process often and usually on a much bigger scale and, with much larger sums of money involved.
Plus, you also have hundreds of exhibitors relying on you to do a great job in attracting lots of people. So, no stress involved at all then!
Trade show party-poopers – the missing 50%
What has all of this got to do with exhibitors and with the business of exhibiting? Quite a lot as it turns out.
You might be surprised to learn that for most trade shows only half of the people who register in advance to attend, actually turn-up.
This means that only 50% or thereabouts of the people who go to the trouble of completing an online registration form, will actually make it to the show.
Think about that…. most trade exhibitions would be well on the way to doubling their attendances if the majority of those “no-shows” followed through on their initial registration.
This is a problem but it’s also an opportunity (and a challenge) for organisers and exhibitors.
This 50/50 statistic, pre-registrations vs. actual attendance, is in part caused by the time pressures that many of us feel and live with daily.
It’s why email open rates are so much lower than they used to be. Why it’s so hard to get appointments with buyers – everyone’s time is in great demand.
In the not too distant past, conversion rates of people who registered and attended trade shows were much more likely to be around 80%.
On leading shows, conversion could be even higher. There are a few events that still get close to those heights but 50-60% conversion is much more the norm.
When you want to increase the number of visitors to your stand do this
Keep in mind the two points highlighted below.
Trade show visitors don’t attend to meet the organiser.
Exhibitors are the show. You are the reason that buyers and specifiers attend.
With that in mind, you must realise that those non-showing visitors are not just hurting the organiser, they are potentially hurting your business and your ability as an exhibitor, to make new sales.
Why do buyers go to trade shows?
The single biggest reason cited by visitors for attending exhibitions is to see what’s new.
By this, they mean what’s new to them and that dear reader, is an important distinction to note.
They really mean products and suppliers that they have not come across before. It doesn’t mean brand new launch products. It means things that are new to their businesses.
There will always be visitors attending a show because they have a problem that needs a solution, but and by far the biggest reason quoted for attendance is, to see what’s new.
“New” is what helps show visitors to keep innovating within their businesses and to stay ahead of their competition.
Use this knowledge when you market to visitors pre and post-show
When you know what motivates people to visit trade shows, i.e. “new,” get thinking about the “new” things in your business that will resonate.
- Product modifications, tweaks, new case studies, new applications that have been launched. Price reductions or savings. They all count as “new”
- Communicate “new.” Agree on the words that will describe your take on “new” both internally and with any external agencies that you work with
- Think of all the channels you can use to communicate this message to visitors before the show and during
- Use your website; email marketing; press advertising; news releases and social media
- Promote “new” via the organiser’s marketing team
- Include it on your stand graphics or screen displays.
- Highlight what’s new within entries in new product showcase features, innovation trails around the show; the show guide
Always provide visitors with good reasons to visit your stand at the show
- “We can show you how this new widget works faster than others in the marketplace and costs 8%-10% less than others currently being offered to you.” “
- “We can show you how you will save 20% from your current energy spend in the next three years via our new energy management service”
- “This will revolutionise your production process, saving XX hours from your current process.”
- Keep in mind that you are not hoping to meet everyone that attends a show, rather, you are hoping to meet people from businesses most suitable for what you have to offer
- Therefore make your messaging as relevant as you can to those visitors and show them why taking time out of the office to be at the show (and on your stand), is the best possible use of their time
Any percentage increase on pre-registration conversion i.e. converting more of the people who indicate that they will attend to actual attendees is potentially good news for your company. It means there will be more of the right people attending the show.
If you have been able to raise the profile of your company in the minds of visitors before they arrive; if you are using your stand to promote your brand and messaging clearly; the chances are that more of the visitors that you would most like to meet and do business with, will make time to meet you.
Well attended parties have more buzz and are much more fun both for the guests and the person who organised the shindig.
Now, please bring me your finest wines and cheeses…