Multi-day conferences can be packed with value and networking, but adding an Expo Floor to the mix is an opportunity to really know who you're speaking to - beyond their first name.
Are they a potential prospect? Could they be an ideal referral partner? Are they top talent in the industry looking for a change? Are they already a trusted vendor also exhibiting that you only get to see once a year in person? The expo floor is open for these sort of interactions with the intention to have the opportunity to continue the conversation.
Here's a short list of some of my personal favorite tactics and considerations, but for more inspiration check out my resource library and the Trade Show Specific Board: https://www.pinterest.com/marketingNevents/trade-shows-vendor-shows/
• Coffee/Tea Station- The conference coffee stops after breakfast and lunch...
keep people coming back and asking where to find the coffee. We did this for a client and the following year the organizer made it an available sponsorship opportunity - it works!
(Tip to event organizers)... you may save a few extra $$ by not having all-day coffee provided, but in reality people WILL find coffee and a pick-me-up even if that means leaving the event. Consider making this a value-add sponsorship opportunity and make it a win/win/win!
• Mirrors – simple trick to put in your booth space (people can’t help but to check themselves quick even for a glance) Take that chance to greet them by name and give a genuine compliment.
• Cocktail High Tops, Layered Table with a Colored or Eye Catching Rug – rather than standing BEHIND the table break up the pattern with this welcoming layout. The purpose of the expo floor isn't necessarily to close deals immediately but to have an opportunity to continue the conversation. People are constantly looking DOWN at every other table (or at their phones), so by having even one or two simple layers or a colored rug can make a difference. Having conversation at a cocktail table as you would at a networking event can be more comfortable to start the conversation and book a time to continue the conversation.
• Adult "trick-or-treat" anything to relieve pain and mints! People are exhausted and big complaint I hear are people’s FEET and BACK from all the walking and long presentations. Not to mention if they went a bit too hard at the networking event the night before. Chair massage, Energy-C packs, Advil, stress relief tea bags, Bengay Patches, high heel inserts, band-aids, mints, mouthwash etc...
• Push-Pin Map – This can be a neat way to know where people are coming in from all around the world. It's easy to put on an easel/large foam board as people walk by and great conversation starter (plus good insight) – get those little pins with different colors. You can even make it a social interaction by getting a picture and #hashtag
• Charging Phone & IPad/Laptop Station – This works if you have a larger space with electricity they’ll stick around at least for a view mins to charge up. If not enough space, phone banks/chargers make great long-shelf life give aways that also get passed to be borrowed and expand their reach - like pens!
For larger spaces or designated areas consider bringing in: Professional Photographer/Head Shots, Caricature or live event painter, Podcast or Video Interviews, Times to offer Demo/Seminar presentation at the booth, Invite to VIP Exclusive Happy Hour, book reading back at the booth.
Here's my stance on some common Expo/Trade Show Items:
Contests & Raffles (Business Card Fishbowl): I'm actually NOT a fan of everyone no matter what gets an entry. I'm also not a fan of putting all business cards in the same pile Why? Because time is money and high-ticket give aways without purpose cost time AND money.
Keep the pens and mints for everyone to have, or a fun engaging way to connect with the audience. What I like about simple games is that very quickly, even for just a few minutes you can peel back and connect with a new stranger and get a sense of the "person behind the business".
However, when it comes raffles and contests consider setting one or two qualifying requirements and see how much your more conversion you make with THOSE entries compared to everyone else in your "fishbowl".
Everyone should be followed up with, but segmenting ideal connections can make better use of everyone's time.
Notebooks & Notepads: These are great for conference style events where people take notes. Consider adding in sticky notes inside the front tab. These are likely to stand out and actually be used rather than just a plain note pad. Out of all my years with events, the note book in the title image hands-down were the most popular! People came back asking if they could have a second. Along with note taking there were several fun pages such as Sudoku, maze, word search and battleship. They also served as a conversation breaker to find the NEW YORK 1886 on the front.
Pens: Please ensure they're decent quality. There's a story I like to share about one of my favorite pen/highlighters I got at an event. I had a zoom chat with one of my previous clients about 2 months after we both attended the same event and I noticed we were taking notes with the SAME pen/highlighter! I still have this pen over a year later and I couldn't tell you ONE other company that I got a pen from at that event - but let the best one be noticed.
Also, consider a velt-style pen over ball-point because they're easier to write on a variety of business cards.
Bags: PLEASE order quality bags! I was in NYC not to long ago and grab some lunch on the way to the train station after an expo. As I'm standing in line at Chipotle when the BOTTOM of my expo bag completely falls a part and spills out pens, candy, notepads, business cards, flyers!! I felt like a kid back in middle school that just got shoved down and dropped all my books and notes. Bags are one of the most visible and REUSABLE items for brand impressions and awareness, but needless to say, I was NOT impressed and will not be re-using that bag.
One-Off Sponsorship Opportunities: My title states it, yes I'm an advocate for event sponsorship and believe it can be extremely effective to include into your event marketing campaign. However, BEFORE committing to these a la carte style sponsorship opportunities consider how it's aligned with your over all goals and objectives. Event Sponsorship is a great way to leverage the event, credibility, and connection with the audience however stand alone opportunities should still be meaningful and integrated into your event strategy.
Do you have an event in the next 3-6 Months? Now is PRIME time to execute your pre-event plan if you haven't started already. How can I be a resource?