Your Onsite Booth Strategy: Content and Experts Connect

Posted by on February 18, 2016

What goes on in your booth while at a technology event makes all the difference in staging a successful engagement.  Here’s a closer look at the do’s and don’ts of event marketing.

In the autumn of 2015, UBM conducted another in our continuing series of surveys to determine how business and technology professionals feel about attending events. More than 400 people weighed in with their thoughts, enabling us to further solidify what we know about event marketing.

We’ve talked before about the importance of your pre-event marketing activities for ensuring success in the engagement; even the best booth, with the best experts on hand, will have difficulty making up ground lost by not getting ahead of the curve and marketing to your potential audience. But assuming you’ve done the proper advance work, there are some important principles you should observe at the event itself.

Expert Advice

Our first tip is key: make sure that you have subject matter experts on hand in your booth to educate attendees and promote your products and services. Almost two-thirds of those we surveyed indicated that the presence of experts would make them more likely to stop and visit a vendor’s booth during a trade show.  No other factor polled as high.

To that effect, more than three quarters of respondents felt that product managers generally provide the most useful information.  One person surveyed said, “I like ‘the stuff,’ but without experts I just move on.”  Also scoring high was the presence of customers who could provide real-world examples and case studies to validate the quality of a vendor’s technology and solutions.

Content Connects

 Our second tip is to make sure you provide quality content at your boothAs always, content connects.  Tech demos—presented by experts, of course—ranked extremely high on the list of the kinds of information or content that the tech pros we surveyed said they find most valuable.

Other attractive types of content that made the list were technology specs or other “how to” materials, industry-specific and business case information, white papers, case studies and peer perspectives, to name the most prominent.

Finally, you should leverage your event presence by sponsoring breakout events, hosting smaller and more targeted events, and sponsoring focus groups.  A significant majority of survey respondents cited these additional activities as paving the way for deeper engagement.

What NOT to Do

Just as there are things you should do to engage booth visitors, there are definitely things you shouldn’t do at your event—and as you might expect, they’re generally the opposite of some of the recommendations we made above.

Approximately half of those surveyed cited lack of quality content as a factor that would make them less likely to actively engage with a vendor at a trade show.  This includes a scarcity of demos, availability only of brochures with content that just wasn’t “robust” enough, or content that didn’t provide a clear indication of what the vendor’s solution was, and how it could help with the attendee’s business.  And as expected, more than half of our respondents said that a paucity of subject matter experts on hand to answer their questions was a definite turnoff.

But the biggest turnoff by far—and one that consistently polls the highest in every survey we do regarding events—is cited as having to endure an overt sales pitch from a vendor.  Staffing your booth primarily with sales people is a bad strategy.  And, while more than three quarters of those surveyed said that product managers at an exhibitor’s booth provide them with the most useful information, sales and marketing executives ranked lowest on the list.

Yes, sales and marketing people are vital to your business, but they’re not the best people to represent you at a trade show.  And so our third and final tip of the day for ensuring a successful presence at an event is don’t sell too hard!

Summing everything up, content connects, experts matter, and an overtly sales-oriented approach is generally doomed to failure when it comes to a booth strategy that really works at a trade show.  Combine these with a well-rounded and robust pre-event marketing plan, along with conscientious post-event follow-up activities, and you’ll get the maximum return on investment at the events in which you participate.