Assessing a Business2Business event; Bigger is not always better. Better is better.

To assess an exhibition or event, the potential exhibitor must first understand what they want to achieve. Some fundamental questions you need to ask yourself are:

  1. Why do we want to do a live event?

It may be possible to achieve your aims through another marketing channel such as direct mail.

  1. Who do we want to meet?

If you do not have a clear idea of your target audience, you will not be able to assess the event nor review its effectiveness post-event.

  1. What interaction do we want?

You need to consider whether you want; a chance to talk ‘on stand’, to educate through content e.g. conference programme, or is it to ‘be seen.

Once you have worked out that an event is the way forward and what type of engagement you want to achieve with your target audience, it can be difficult to assess which events or exhibitions to invest in. Here are a few tips to help you make that all-important decision.

Organisers

Key considerations are; who is the organiser? what is their background in the industry? Are they opportunists looking to make money in an interesting and wealthy market or are they truly interested in supporting change and educating all concerned?

If an event is held by a media company that has several products in the same arena then you can be rest assured that these leaders are interested in developing the industry and helping it advance, as opposed to a media business that may be in the industry for opportunistic reasons – typically it’s all about the money for this media company.

Leaders

Assuming the organiser does have several products in your market, it is good to understand how these all stack up. Do they have an industry leading magazine? Do they produce any market intelligence reports? Do they hold any other live events? Do they have any digital products for the market? How does the portfolio of products interlink and help readers achieve their aims? Does the organiser have a good reputation?

What you will find is that organisers who have a suite of products helping the industry are more than happy to explain their portfolio and invest time in helping you understand and gain advantage from their activities, from PR and digital marketing to get the best from their live events.

Opportunists

On the flip side of the coin is, unfortunately, the opportunists. There are usually warning signs, you just need to know what they are. Have you heard negative comments? Do they manipulate facts and figures? Are they overly pushy salespeople? Do they have other products in the sector? Are the other products well supported? Do they do discounts and then ask you to sign a non-disclosure agreement?

Most of these questions are easy to answer. However, it can be very difficult to spot when an organiser manipulates facts and figures. There is one little trick that can help you. Take an analytical look at the organiser’s sales brochure. If the organiser uses a ‘headline figure’ of attendees in their marketing and sales activities that includes attendees such as exhibitor staff, conference speakers, press etc then you know you have an opportunist. They will state or display a graphic that they have done this, but they expect you not to notice.

Research is key. Take time to understand the organiser’s motivation.

Theme

This is critical because it shows you whether the organiser and your business have a shared aim. It is also vital for attracting the right audience. There are exhibitions that will look at your industry on a macro level i.e. showcasing everything, anything and anyone. Then, there are the events that truly understand their market and want to develop an empowering niche event and associated conference programme that may not have mass appeal but will attract highly motivated and senior customers to attend.

Macro

These tend to be the bigger exhibitions in your market. There is nothing wrong with exhibiting at these events. In fact, it makes sense for many. However, if you want to meet senior customers who can either make a large investment decision or are the key influencer in the approval process then a large-scale macro event is unlikely to work for you. In fact, you may spend most of the time batting away droves of ‘walk-byes’ who are keener on your gifts and competitions than developing a key customer-supplier relationship.

Niche

These tend to fall into two categories. A conference, whether national or regional, without an exhibition or an event i.e. conference/content with an exhibition. As this blog is aimed at events, let’s just focus on them.

Events that are well run will provide customers with an excellent and progressive conference programme that really gets them thinking about what can be achieved or to understand what obstacles can be removed. As this is a niche event it will tend to focus on something truly exciting that will help develop both the industry i.e. solution providers to win business and help customers move towards best in sector results or even transform an area within their business such as purchasing, CSR or energy etc. These niche events will ensure the right customers attend, it’s just down to you to attract them to your stand.

Remember. Bigger is not always better. Better is better.

Audience

The audience has been covered in part in both the above topics i.e. Organiser and Theme. However, let’s try and pin this one down further. If you are happy that the organiser is a leader and not an opportunist and you have carefully considered whether a macro exhibition or niche event is more attractive to you, the next major consideration is the audience.

If you are looking for movers and shakers who can get things done, then, without doubt, the smaller more focused niche event is for you, assuming it’s a theme that aligns with your solutions. An audience can be reached in three ways and that is what we will focus.

Pre-event reach, live reach and post-event reach (see a blog on this topic). If the organiser is a leader then you can reach the audience easily with their other respected products e.g. magazines and digital products. However, to make the most from a niche event you should really investigate becoming involved in the content/conference programme. The fact that this is a niche event trying to push boundaries and help customers and solution providers to reach new heights with exciting developments, your involvement in the conference programme will help you educate your ideal customers and push your brand, whether leading or challenger.

Whilst you can only talk to one person at a time on your stand you can reach dozens with your content, and if you are doing something innovative or revolutionary you really should be on stage explaining your views and solutions. This is a very powerful way to reach your audience and get engagement above and beyond your competitors.

Be seen at progressive events pushing boundaries.

Final thought

Work out who you want to meet, how you want to engage with them and which organiser is sincere about developing relationships between you and your ideal customers and you won’t go far wrong. If you find yourself undecided about which events to support talk to your team and ask them about their thoughts on the type of events and their views on each organiser, and their wider portfolio.

The Energyst Event ‘Where energy convergence meets’ has been specifically organised to attract end-users from varied disciplines that are now and will continue to head in a converged manner to achieve best in sector results. Contact us today to explore how we can help you make the right connections.