The JET Event Blog
David Pearson

David Pearson

Maximising Exhibitor ROI - Feeding their marketing machine


Tuesday, 20 February 2018


Maximising Exhibitor ROI - Feeding their marketing machine

For 40 years, the simple barcode has been the backbone of registration systems in the UK and around the world.

Having a simple identifier on any badge at an event that has a low cost to print opens up two key tools to event organisers.
badge scan
Firstly, and most simply, 'who came to my event?' and by extension the ability to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, monitor visitor flow and process large volumes of visitors quickly and efficiently. With the UK trade event model largely hinged on free attendance at events only ever a subset of those that book to attend actually turn up on the day. Identifying who they are and what campaign attracted them can be used to inspire the next year of exhibitors to book stands. There are and have always been other technologies – from RFID tags to the use of the ubiquitous mobile phone to check in at events, but both have a cost per head of visitor that at the moment still outweighs the benefits of investment.

The second and potentially more critical element of putting codes out on the badges is to open up the flow of information around an exhibition hall. Modern exhibitors are becoming more reliant on data to feed their marketing machines and exhibitions represent a key feed of fuel to that machine.

When questioned about their reasons for investing in a stand at an event, responses from exhibitors vary:

·         To promote a brand

·         To generate sales

·         Meeting key people in our industry (networking)

·         To demonstrate and showcase products

Ultimately, the final objective is to generate orders, revenue and new business.  The capture of information on the audience that visit a stand is a critical step all exhibitors should be considering.

Whether simply a process to collate business cards from each visitor, custom 'lead sheets' to write down contact details, scanning badges to build spreadsheets through to applications designed to capture details, leading through to matching systems that integrate with social media tools like LinkedIn but the method chosen can be tailored to the individual exhibitor’s need and budgets.

What isn’t optional though is doing something.  Without a lead recording process defined for an exhibitor’s stand, they are missing an opportunity to gain a greater ROI from the event and therefore make the most out of their presence.

This is particularly important for exhibition sales teams – the better an exhibitor does, the more likely they are to re-book next year and the more likely they are to invest more money in an event.

As such, it’s a vital service for an organiser to offer on events as it secures exhibitors for the future.

Take control of the conversation

The fundamental reason for capturing data is simply giving exhibitors the tools to take charge of the conversation – those that hand out leaflets and brochures and stand back waiting for business to roll in are at the mercy of people contacting them back at their convenience.

The first line follow-up being in the hands of the exhibitor gives them control over the sales process, from the first 'thank you' email through to the continuity of contact that builds an ongoing relationship.

From retail exhibitors who make individual sales on their stand and want to tap into an ongoing revenue stream from their new customers, to big brands who have distributor and sales networks who are eager for the details of qualified interested customers in their area, these relationships represent revenue streams and with digital marketing costs lower and more accessible than they have ever been, a simple spreadsheet is all even the smallest exhibitor needs to jumpstart their marketing.

How to beat stand limitations

With a successful event, the biggest problem facing an exhibitor is the amount of time it’s possible to spend with each visitor.  Whether identifying, qualifying and then selling to each person, or simply harvesting data, a stand working at full capacity can process one visitor for every 3 minutes of time spent.

This varies – a high value potential sale, once identified could take far longer, and a couple of staff handing out brochures and literature to passing visitors takes seconds a piece.

Turning a stand into a transactional environment is at the heart of success – for everything given away, whether it be time, a brochure or a free gift, the exhibitor should be gaining something in return – valuable data.

Many exhibitors only collect details on fully qualified leads at a show – cherry picking the best contacts.  Whilst this improves the conversion percentage to sales, many visitors find a hard sell in an exhibition environment difficult.  Capturing a volume of contacts, even without extended conversations allows the exhibitor to spread their brand, to tap into visitors that haven’t spoken at length and open a conversation in a softer medium post-show.

Lead recording as part of a larger process

Across the rest of a year, the majority of exhibitors at an event will be aware of the fundamental ROI calculations behind their sales process.  For every x qualified leads that they get, they convert y to a quote and z to a final sale.  With a known value to each sale, there’s a standing metric for their sales process.

Exhibitions are another input to the same system.  Measurable, quantifiable and making the most of the time at an event.

Exhibitor ROI funnel

Scanners?  Surely there’s an app for that?

A popular misconception with 'we’ve got an app' is that it’s a next generation replacement for the traditional scanner. Jonas Event Technology take the view that it’s an EXTRA tool that has a different use.

Modern barcode scanners are fast, reliable tools for harvesting volumes of data.  The data’s available the second they are downloaded via modern secure online reporting tools – giving an exhibitor access back at their offices whilst the event is still ongoing.

For the exhibitor who spends a little more time with each contact at the event, or needs to provide detailed advice, consultancy or information, the Engage Scanner App offers an alternative to simply capturing data – a live feed of information on the visitor straight to your hands.

What the App provides is immediacy – the data is on hand at the point of contact, as is the ability to take notes, photographs and detailed qualifier information on the individual.

Engage Scanner AppIt opens up the possibility of immediate follow-up and integration into address books, social media platforms and import into CRM systems) and is capable of making individual->individual links.

From 10 years of running apps alongside scanners, it’s very clear that the app is a critical tool in lower volume high value sales.  Many exhibitors now mix and match the service – a scanner for the volume and an app for those that are identified as highest value.

10 years of evolution, partnering with our organiser and exhibitor clients have refined the Engage Scanner App into a swift, powerful and reliable alternative to traditional badge scanning.

What next?

So far we have covered the WHY of lead recording and WHAT is available.  Next month we will look into the wider conversation – lead recording as part of the larger process, first line follow-up, and measuring the success of their use.

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