Marketing and attendee acquisition activities are rarely handled exclusively by the event organizer or lead sponsor and from our experience, getting the partners involved garners better results. At Nth Degree we encourage our clients to see these activities as a combined effort – the event organizer brings the audience through the doorway, but it’s the partner’s job to get the attendees to their booth at the event.
Most partners understand the more people who attend and actually seek out their booth during the event, the better their chances are of making good contacts or actually lining up sales during a live event. However as an event organizer, you cannot rely on these partners to proactively promote your event – even if they realize it is to their benefit to do so – as they often do not have the tools or knowledge necessary to do so effectively. That is why you should consider it a part of your responsibility to provide them with those tools.
An active exhibitor marketing program can yield tremendous benefits for both the individual partner exhibitors and the event as a whole. Partner exhibitors often have contacts that the event organizers do not, providing a wider pool of potential attendees. In addition, partners are likely to have an existing relationship with these contacts, making it more likely that they will attend if invited by that individual partner directly. As an example, in 2012 one Nth Degree customer allowed us to provide exhibitor partners with marketing materials for their last event of the year after not doing so for previous events in the spring and summer. The result – registrations for this final event ended up nearly 50% higher than the earlier events.
To facilitate these activities, Nth Degree provides partner exhibitors at events we manage with Exhibitor Marketing Kits. These kits contain items such as a PDF invitation with live links to the event website, HTML files that can be sent as email blasts, banner ads to put on the partner exhibitor’s website, signatures that can be used in company emails, and pre-approved copy that can be posted on the partner exhibitor’s social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
In addition, event organizers can actually track all online activity through the use of tracking codes from websites such as Google Analytics in order to see which partners are actually driving traffic and registrations. These are the partners that event organizers may want to specifically engage with after the event to gauge what their experience was like and look for ways to improve marketing efforts for future events. Another way to effectively track activity is to provide the partner exhibitors each with a unique discount code, which they can give to their contacts. By tracking how many times a code is used, you can see which partner exhibitors are making the biggest effort to bring in attendees.
Providing marketing tools to partner exhibitors will boost your attendance numbers and make them feel more involved in the event. The most important thing to keep in mind is to be gracious and appreciative to them for taking the time to carry out marketing activities. If a partner exhibitor wants to change something or try a different tactic be open to it – they may have an idea that turns out to be effective. At the end of the day, working together will result in a better turnout and more positive event for everyone involved.