To go or not to go? Invest or not invest? What is the best strategy for exhibiting or attending a conference or tradeshow? These are the questions being asked by every business, in every sector of the economy.
Having been ‘shut-off’ for all of 2020 and most of 2021 without a face-to-face engagement of an event now has many questioning the need to return. Book tickets, reserve rooms, secure a 10′ x10′ space (or larger), etc. Is there still value in attending events? YES!
No matter if you attend in person, virtual, or hybrid yes, absolutely you must attend. While event formats have changed what remains the same is your reliance on industry gatherings to view the latest products/services, meet key players in your industry, attend seminars and group meetings, assess your competition, and get a ‘feel’ for the trends taking place now and in the future.
During the pandemic, business event organizers learned to adjust the structure of and value propositions tied to conferences and tradeshows. Events were organized online with virtual booths/exhibits staffed by marketing and product experts who were able to demo products and answer questions for attendees and the media in real-time.
What started out as rough and choppy virtual experiences evolved into streamlined and engaging events that attracted attendees, and, in many cases, the media. Event organizers had raised the bar and invested significant resources into more robust, custom, immersive, and interactive experiences designed to better replicate the in-person events. Now, we’re seeing the return of fully in-person events and are all looking ahead to see what the January CES will be. The Consumer Electronics Show is arguably the largest of all conferences/tradeshows with normally over 150,000+ attendees. I have no doubt that the CES organizers will set a new standard for a hybrid event.
So now you must get ready to re-engage and re-invest in conferences and tradeshow exhibitions and/or attendance both in-person and hybrid. Do You Have A Plan? Do You Know Which Members of the Media will attend? Do You Know Which Industry Experts Will Be There?
Here is what you need to consider:
- Plan your PR strategy early! Complete your PR plan at least two to three months in advance. Start engaging the media as early as possible.
- Build a media target list. Choose the top 5 or so journalists or influencers who are most relevant to your industry sector and who you know will be most interested in your products, news, and narrative.
- Stay on top of awards. Make sure you know the submission dates for event-specific awards and media awards given out during the shows. Receiving an award pushes your brand above all of the other noise from competitors.
- Get the News out. Especially if launching a new product, given all of the other news coming out during the event, it helps to make news and product available for the media to cover before things get really busy.
- Showrunning. The media have become less and less inclined to schedule briefings at your booth, so be prepared to be on the move. Walk the floor and find the media (look for badges and cameras). If at all possible, have a demo product with you. Many shows are big and busy so you’ll have to seek out media coverage – be aggressive, you only get this chance once.
- And finally…Get Creative. Yes, there is a method to all of this madness and it takes creative thinking to raise your brand above all of the noise. A media event or unique activity at your booth or a separate meeting room, celebrity engagement, piggybacking off a larger brand as an adjacent product, etc. Start thinking now and identify the most creative ways to get the media to your booth and discuss your brand.
The new hybrid events will enhance the in-person experience not replace them. Remember: Focus on your objectives. What do you want to get out of the event? Which event(s) should I attend? What do I want to invest?