Are events a worthwhile way to do business?

Last week, we were invited to exhibit at an event held at Magna Science Adventure Centre in South Yorkshire.

The South Yorkshire Skills Celebration Event was organised by our clients Barnsley College, in partnership with the local Chambers of Commerce, other colleges and training providers and was attended by over 150 people.

This was the first time that we have exhibited our PR, digital marketing and social media services for three years.

It got me thinking how, prior to the pandemic, we attended and exhibited at several events, exhibitions and seminars every year, working alongside our b2b clients, mainly in construction and manufacturing.  After the lockdown, our work in providing PR and exhibition support services slowed down for a while, so it is great to see that 2023 will be the year when our PR and social media for exhibitions and events ramps up once again.

Here are my advice tips on how to make the most of an event.

Tip 1

Be prepared.  Make a schedule and agree it beforehand which staff will be on the stand and at what times, to make sure you have cover throughout the event.  If it’s a trade exhibition, it’s important to have staff on hand who have an understanding of the industry and its issues, as well as your products and services, so they can discuss solving people’s issues.  This can lead to good follow-up opportunities afterwards.

Make sure you have up-to-date company literature available.  It is also worth considering corporate gifts to give away, like pens, coasters, or branded gift bags.

Tip 2

Build a social media campaign beforehand.

Social media is your most powerful tool to drive traffic to your exhibition stand.  In the past, getting into all the show previews in magazines was essential – and this is still worthwhile but social media can have more instantaneous and impactful results.  It is a good idea to create a graphic to share on your LinkedIn and Twitter company page to invite people to visit your stand and see a demonstration, meet the team etc, then ask each of your staff to share this with their contacts.  You could even request that visitors sign up beforehand by setting up an Eventbrite link.

Tip 3

Work the room.  It’s not just about who wanders onto your stand, but how you can network the other exhibitors too. 

Check out the list of exhibitors beforehand and search them up on LinkedIn, to see who the right contacts are.  Make time to visit their stands a couple of time during the event, and find out if key people are going to be attending.  Focus on building relationships, rather than just trying to make a sale.    The chance you will make a sale the first time that you wander onto an exhibition stand are low, but use it as an opportunity to get a foot in the door.

Tip 4

Secure a speaker slot.

Approach the organisers of the event several months before and request a speaker slot.  To do this, you normally have to complete a form which includes giving a synopsis (outline) of the topic that you will cover in the presentation.  This should be non-commercial and cover an industry challenge/issue or topical subject.  If it’s a construction exhibition, for example, the topic could cover latest legislation changes and how can your products/team help to meet these.  If it’s a manufacturing show, it could be a seminar around meeting Industry 4.0 and beyond and using technology and digitalisation to enhance your business, or how to meet skills challenges etc.  Whatever the topic, make sure it is relevant, informative and not overly commercial.  It is a great way to raise the awareness of your brand and be seen as an industry expert.  Often these seminars provide invaluable content for our PR team to be able to create thought leadership articles in key magazines, which we negotiate into the publications free of charge.

Tip 5

Carry out data capture by having a lanyard scanner on your stand - this saves you having to ask for people’s business cards  - and these days they don’t often have them.  Once you have their details, then try to connect with them via LinkedIn, so you have them within your set of connections.  This can be a valuable initial step, on the route to potentially doing business together.

Tip 6

Relax and enjoy the show! They can be long hours at the shows and the days can be busy and hectic. 

Make sure you and your staff take regular breaks and check in to make sure all team members are OK and feel supported.  Remember people are at the event to do business, but also to have a good day out, meeting new people, making connections – so don’t be disheartened if you don’t make any immediate sales.

The lengthy days do mean that social activities can be restricted, but often the last day or evening of an evening can be a chance for the team to wind down and for managers to thank team members for their contributions to making the event a success.

For any more information and advice on B2B PR and social media for events, exhibitions or b2b PR campaigns, email or tel 0114 349 5341.


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