As a business owner, you know how expensive trade shows and sales events can be. In addition to advertising the event, you have to consider staffing, labor costs, exhibit costs, travel expenses, equipment and other miscellaneous expenses. In fact, according to E&E Exhibits, the average price for a 20x20 square foot exhibit at a trade show can cost $40,000 to $60,000 – and that’s just the exhibit.
The price is high, but well worth it. Events offer businesses unique opportunities to build relationships with customers, spread brand awareness, and promote products and services. This is why it’s vital to get the most out of your events and make every dollar count with these event marketing best practices.
In speaking with successful Pool and Spa dealers, we found the following 3 types of key events most successful: Home Shows, Company Events and VIP Events.
- Home Shows
A home show is a lot like a trade show, except it’s specifically tailored to homeowners interested in remodeling, landscaping, or decorating their homes. They are often named the “Home & Garden Show” or similar and held in a large open space. Consumers attend these events eager to learn and are often ready to buy. This creates an excellent opportunity to generate leads and acquire new customers. Best of all, at home shows, your target audience comes to you.
When it comes to home shows, preparation is key to success. You want to begin preparing for the event at least two months in advance by acquiring all the materials you will need and budgeting accordingly. Make sure your display is well thought out and your personnel know exactly what to expect. With proper preparation, you’ll be able to focus on how well your exhibit performs when the home show finally takes place.
Home shows are orchestrated by event coordinators, who will be doing all that they can to market the event. For this reason, all you have to do is spread awareness of your participation in the event through email marketing and social media. Start updating your social media and sending your customers and leads promotional emails at least two months before the home show takes place. Within the emails you send out, you should include information about the event and special offers for products or services you be showcasing.
Not sure how to create a list of leads to email to? Evosus Software provides automated marketing tools, making it easy to generate lists for email marketing purposes. Before every event, Steve Ruscigno of Oregon Hot Tub uses Evosus to pull lists of pre-qualified leads for pre-show email campaigns.
At the home shows, you can differentiate yourself from your competitors with branding and themed exhibits. Because home shows are interactive, sensory branding – marketing tactics that utilize the five senses to trigger emotional, cognitive, and behavioral responses from consumers – is incredibly beneficial. Take into consideration how your exhibit sounds, looks, feels, and smells. What kind of experience do you want attendees to have? What will best communicate the products and services your business has to offer?
Here’s an out-of-the-box idea – don’t just tell people about your product, show them how it’s used! When promoting his swim spas at home shows, Steve Ruscigno of Oregon Hot Tubs hires live swimmers for his exhibits, giving people a visual of how his swim spas can be used. How’s that for making a splash?
Another tip for home shows – don’t use your own salespeople. If you really want to make a sale, consider contracting “hired guns” to sell your products and services to event attendees. Hired guns know how to proactively go for the close and are easier to incentivize.
- Company Events
A company event can be anything from a sales promotion to a conference and is hosted by a single company. These are events that you yourself will design, manage, market, and implement in order to generate leads, improve sales, and spread brand awareness.
To properly promote your company events, you should make the best use of marketing channels that your customers actively use. 30-60 days before your event begins, begin marketing your event through social media updates, print ads, and ads on local TV and radio stations. Oregon Hot Tub likes to use outbound phone campaigns in conjunction with print, TV, and radio advertisements, obtaining lists of leads through Evosus.
5 days before the event begins, email your leads and customers and with information about special deals and offers. People are busy and forgetful, so one email will not be enough. Send out emails the day before the event, then at the event itself, in order to remind leads and customers of the event taking place. On the last day of the event, you should send out a “Last Chance” email to target those that dilly-dally before making a decision.
At company events, it’s critical to provide value to customers in order to incentivize them to take part in the event. Value is generated by reinforcing discounts, limited-time offers, BOGO (Buy One Get One Free) and other special offers. The Evosus Point of Sale system is not only perfect for tracking new leads but also allows businesses to easily apply discounts to individual items or tickets, scan barcodes for fast and easy checkout, and report on sales figures. These features allow you to track the impact of your event.
- VIP Events
VIP events are exclusive events reserved for high-value customers and leads. The invitees to these events are the crème de la crème of your customer base and it’s important to maintain strong relationships with them through targeted messaging.
VIP events typically follow larger, less exclusive industry-specific events such as like trade shows. At these industry events, people are highly interested but not always ready to make an immediate purchase. For that reason, you should retain these people as leads and follow-up with them immediately through targeted campaigns. Send these leads personalized messages a few weeks after the larger event takes place, reminding them of what you have to offer while inviting them to a VIP event. It’s a good idea to plan multiple VIP events a year, scheduling them to immediately follow larger events that generate high amounts of leads.
Steve Ruscigno of Oregon Hot Tub says he collects leads at industry events and follows up with them roughly two weeks after the event concludes, sending these top-priority leads personalized invitations with the option to RSVP for a VIP event. Nice!
With Evosus marketing features, you can track the effectiveness of event marketing campaigns, generate reports on lead closing ratios, track advertising ROI, and create segmented lists of customers and leads.