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Live events: why practice makes perfect

Over the last 3 months we’ve been managing a presence at events for our client the Ethiopian Wolf Project. They’ve been a great success, enormous fun and we’ve also improved them as we’ve gone along so we wanted to share some of the learnings we’ve had from the experience.

Firstly it’s important to acknowledge the outlay required and the likely speed of ROI. It’s highly unlikely that the initial setup cost of a stand, the personnel to run it and investment in a stock of product/merchandise/information to sell or give out can all be recouped at one event unless it’s highly specialised. Chances are you’ll need to attend several such events, refine as you go and calculate the returns over a period of time.


Ethiopian Wolf Project stand at the UK Wolf Conservation Trust open day

Here’s our top tips for being a successful exhibitor:

Location, location, location

With any event it’s about getting as many attendees as possible to notice and interact with you. That’s not going to happen if you’re stuck in a distant corner of the event space that’s unlikely to be visited by anyone other than the guy who checks the fire extinguishers. Planning is key, it’s vital to know the site layout and make a reconnaissance visit if possible. If you’ve established out where works best don’t be afraid to ask for a particular spot (especially if you’re a repeat exhibitor) or pay a premium if you think it will deliver results.

Whatever the weather

Whether your event is outdoors or indoors weather conditions can hugely affect visitor numbers and behaviour on any given day. Give some thought to how you can gain an advantage over your neighbouring exhibitors, even if it’s just small details like having a supply of carrier bags to hand for people to transport items in wet conditions. It might be enough for them to purchase something from you rather than the person next door!

Be seen everywhere

There is nothing better than extending your profile at an event by being seen to be popular. Whether it’s giving out free branded ballons so you’re popular with families or pricing a particularly noticeable item very competitively so that lots of attendees are walking around with them, make sure that people around the site are inquisitive about your offering.

Keep it simple with a call to action

The people manning your stand need to be communicative, welcoming and enthusiastic. It’s well-known that people will tend to drift past stands at a slight distance while they suss out what you’re offering, Making the first move to smile and engage them in conversation gently will often convince them to stop and engage with you more closely. Having done that, it’s important to remember that you probably only have a minute or so of most people’s  time until they want to move on.  Within that time you need to outline the key information about yourself and offer them the chance to pick up info or buy something if that’s what you’d like them to do. If they indicate genuine interest then you can expand the discussion, but don’t get sidetracked within that key first minute.

Build relationships with organisers

As we said at the outset, repeat attendance at events is likely to be necessary, especially the ones that you know attract your key audience. So it makes sense to get to know the organisers, it’s a symbiotic relationship, they need your attendance and want to identify key exhibitors who are relevant and popular to help them sell tickets. Offer to help promote the event through channels where you have a strong presence, chances are you’d be doing it fror your own benefit anyway but if you are seen to be doing it you’ll likely gain some reciprocal benefit from it.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas to maximise your marketing spend in this arena. If you’d like help with planning, designing or running your future events we’d love to hear from you.

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