Are you itching to get back into an exhibition hall? We don’t blame you. It’s been months since the events industry rallied together to help businesses like your find new suppliers, generate leads and increase brand awareness.
Exhibitions are great marketing strategies for businesses of all sizes. Whether you’re a regular exhibitor or you attend several shows as a visitor, I’d be surprised to find someone who has yet to gain from an industry event.
There is nothing that compares to face-to-face interaction. Nothing. That’s why digital events are yet to take off. They might work for certain industries but most businesses only get value from the conversations that they have and the relationships they build on the trade show floor.
Exhibitions will be back – but they will look different.
Without clarity from the government, all we can do at the moment is guess what the venues will look like in autumn. Based on what we’ve seen in other countries, and what we are currently experiencing in the UK, we’ve been able to make some predictions.
The number one thing that everyone is talking about is capped audience numbers. Reducing the number of people allowed into the exhibition hall is the only way to control social distancing.
Smaller crowds are great news for visitors. The cramped aisles and long queues for lunch don’t exactly entice them back year on year. But how will this affect you as an exhibitor? Quadrant2Design have over twenty years’ experience on the trade show floor, and they don’t think you’ve got anything to worry about.
Believe it or not, capped audience numbers will benefit you massively. You might not think so at first. Especially after years of event organisers bragging about their enormous visitor numbers and all the potential delegates, you will meet. But smaller visitor numbers open up a world of possibilities, and it’s not something you should shy away from.
In 2017, years before the global pandemic closed down our industry, Statista surveyed 200 Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs). More than three-quarters of participants believed smaller trade shows (with fewer visitors) to be a better investment.
Among the leading reasons why CMOs valued smaller trade shows were:
• Connecting to customers (75%)
• Securing speaking roles (67%)
• Hosting receptions or events with less competition (50%)
• Securing positive media coverage in a target industry (33%)
• Participating jointly with a key customer (33%)
If people believed small trade shows offered better value before the crisis, why don’t they believe that now?
It’s a direct result of the way the events themselves have been sold. You see huge visitor numbers from previous years and decision-makers from the largest names in your field in attendance and you think you’ve got an opportunity.
According to that study back in 2017, CMOs believe they have more opportunity to connect with customers at smaller events. Building relationships and showing your customers that your human is one of the most common exhibiting objectives. If smaller numbers are what it takes to make that happen then you’re in luck.
Of course, event organisers will have to do their bit to make sure that their exhibition is of value to businesses. If only 100 visitors are allowed in, those select few will be vetted.
No exhibitor will attend a small event full of interns, school trips and people looking for a day out of the office. Every attendee will have buying power. They’ll likely be from the top-performing companies in your sector and have the intention to buy. Time wasters will be stripped from the trade show floor.
Event organisers must switch their emphasis from ‘hundreds of thousands of visitors’ to ‘one hundred guests with the intention to find a new supplier’. It is the only way to attract exhibitors, which in turn attract key industry decision-makers. And it’s a huge benefit for any business looking to add event marketing into their strategy.
Need another reason to exhibit post-covid with capped visitor numbers? You’ll easily quarter your spend on promotional items such as branded pens and notebooks. Or you could spend the same amount of money on giveaways that people actually want. The choice is yours.
Overall, capping visitor numbers at a trade show is nothing to be worried about. If 200 CMOs weren’t worried about it back in 2017 then why should you be now? Take this opportunity or the ‘new normal’ as every one is referring to it, to grow and develop your business in an environment where the odds are working in your favour.
Don’t give up on trade shows. You’ll regret it.