Zehnder Communications, Inc.

5 Ways to Stand Out at an In-Person Event

A recent study showed that more than 70% of business leaders view in-person contact as the most effective form of communication. They believed it was more powerful than online or over-the-phone interactions.

The problem, for many, is that attending in-person marketing events and trade shows can require a lot more time and effort than simply sending out an email or buying a Facebook ad.

Which leads many companies to ask: Is in-person marketing worth it?

We think that the answer is yes -- if you do it right. Here’s how.

1. Pick the right entry level.

If you have the budget, it’s always good to snag the highest-level entry pass to an event. This could give your brand access to things like a front-row seat, a speaking panel spot, or a doublewide booth or display – all of which will increase your exposure.

Many of our clients, though, haven’t had this opportunity. But they still consider their event marketing efforts a huge success – because they’re able create a unique, creative, and engaging presence that, although less prominently displayed, still draws huge crowds.

For example, at a recent blogger conference, we worked with a brand that didn’t have the budget for a prime spot on the event space floor. Instead of cashing in on a premium all-access pass, the client opted to simply sponsor the event and put their dollars toward getting creative outside of the official event space.

We helped them capitalize on the off-peak downtime of the conference, focusing on the night before the event began. Since many of the bloggers would be coming in from out of town and looking for something to do before the conference started the next day, we thought a kick-off cocktail hour was in order – and apparently, they did too. Hundreds of attendees showed up, connected with the brand, and blogged about it – all within a reasonable budget.

The takeaway: If you’ve got a small budget, focus just as much at standing out outside the event as you do within the event. And strategize how and when you can best engage your audience.

2. Send out pre-event signals.

In-person events have a lot of Internet traffic, so make sure you’re up to date on the event’s online channels. If you have access to an attendee e-mail list, send out a note announcing your presence at the event (plus a teaser about other enticing information or giveaways you’ll be offering there). If you know of a few key people you’d like to meet at the event, contact them directly.

Jump on Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels to start conversations with attendees, and encourage them to stop by your event space to continue the conversation in person.

Reach out to local and industry-specific media outlets like radio, TV, and news stations (perhaps with the help of a PR agency) to help promote the event and your brand simultaneously.

3. Develop a welcoming presence.

Open, bright, and professional-looking spaces attract people’s attention; and creativity shines when it comes to events like trade shows. There’s really no limit to what you can create – a giant puffer fish,enchanted castle, or beach simulation space might be just the thing you need to catch an attendee’s eye.

Whatever you decide to do, it’s crucial to make sure the effect is in line with your brand image. From your space’s overall feel to its tiniest detail, the colors, lines, and images displayed should complement each other and reflect your brand – leaving a solid, lasting impact on every viewer.

4. Leave a footprint.

An event isn’t just a place for your brand to make an impression – it’s also a spot where long-lasting conversations are initiated.

To keep your company fresh in an attendee’s mind long after the event is over, offer them a physical takeaway that is 1) useful, entertaining, and relevant to them and 2) different than the tchotchkes everyone else is giving out. For example, at a recent food industry event, we gave out branded bottles of artisan sea salt – something relevant to the client’s audience and definitely useful to everyone at the event (because, as any foodie knows, a pinch of salt makes everything better).

In addition to offering giveaway goodies, get in contact with attendees by sending them follow-up emails and reaching out over social media. Similar to your pre-event outreach, make sure to send personal notes to attendees you value most.

5. Analyze results.

Finally, look back at your experience at the event and analyze whether it was worth it. Did you get the amount of email subscribers you’d hoped for? Did your company’s website traffic increase by your target percentage? Did you make contact with all the important people you were hoping to? How many mentions on social media did you get, and what did they say?

At that point, you should have your answer to whether the whole in-person marketing thing was worth it or not. We’d bet that the answer would be yes.

Want to make your brand stand out at an event? Contact Zehnder and let us help.

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