Anytime you produce an event for the first time, you will make mistakes. I look at mistakes as a good thing because you learn from them and they keep you humble. As an Event Producer, I try to prevent my Clients from making mistakes but sometimes they think they know better and have to learn the hard way.
I have produced several first time trade shows. Creating a trade show has to be balanced between Vendors and Attendees. What do I mean by that? If you have too many Attendees and not enough Vendors, your Attendees will think it is a bad show. If you have too many Vendors and not enough Attendees, your Vendors will be unhappy and most likely not participate next year. It’s all about balance. How do you create that balance? It’s all about marketing.
There are several marketing objectives.
First, getting the Vendors:
Vendors will want to be in your show for several reason such as exposure, branding, connections or sales. You need to make sure your plan covers all of these. This means you need to do target marketing. Understand who your Vendors Clients and go after them.
Add an educational component to the show. If your show’s topic had any type of education that is attached to it try to team up with the group or association that is connected to it. For instance, if you are producing a wine show partner with a Sommelier Association to teach how to taste wines. This will give you a wider attendance and a reason for the customer to be at the show.
Create an invitation in a JPEG form so that you can send it out electronically. This is a very economical way to promote your event. And don’t forget to have a link on it so that people can register to the event.
As part of your Sponsorship package make sure you include tickets to the show. The amount of tickets should be based on the size sponsorship, but remember, the more tickets you give the better the Attendance. If a potential Sponsor has great connections and doesn’t want to pay- why not trade them a booth for their company? Just make sure they send out your E-vite to their list a minimum of three times? One of the best ways to get the word out on your show is to solicit other shows related to yours and trade booth space. It a win-win for both Producers!
Fifth, Educate your Vendors:
Everyone wants to do business at these shows. You can bring them potential Clients but it shouldn’t all be your responsibility. I suggest you educate your Vendors. Send them a list of potential Clients and have them personally invite them to your show. They can set up appointments with them and hopefully make a sale. This makes all your Vendors salespeople for your show without costing you a dime! They get Clients and you get Attendees!
The Internet is a powerful tool. Your show should have it’s own website, Facebook page and Twitter. These should be updated constantly (min once a week) with new Sponsorships and Vendor announcements. Creating a buzz about your event is the best type of publicity.
Finally, Public Relations:
PR is so important to your show. You need to send out a press release before and after the show with photos. The more press you get the better. Always clip the articles and post them on your Facebook page and website. If you are lucky enough to get TV, post the clips on your website and send out an email and Twitter with the link to all your Vendors and Attendees. This will help you help you sell your next show to Sponsors and enlarge your attendance for next year.
Events should grow each year in all aspects that I have mentioned. Remember, the more you do the more you will get back!
If you have any ideas you would like to share please do!!!