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Attending Industry Events: Getting a Better ROI

Updated: Sep 28, 2022


crowded industry event

Attending industry events is a great way for businesses to get in front of their customers in a neutral space. It also offers them an opportunity to check out the competition and get insight into the latest developments and trends in the industry.

For obvious reasons (which don’t need repeating in every article you read), industry events have largely been postponed and cancelled over the last year.

With some form of normality returning, the excitement around events is also beginning to return. As businesses look to recover from the past 12 months and hit the ground running in 2021, events offer the perfect opportunity to do this.

But attending industry events aren’t cheap and it isn’t just your exhibition space that needs paying for. Marketers and business leaders need to consider all elements including travel, accommodation, staff costs, the cost of materials and even the opportunity costs of taking some of your best team members out of the office for days at a time.

In this article, we will walk you through how you can get the most from attending industry events and how you can boost your ROI.

Define Your Goal

Why do you attend events as a business?

Some common answers include:

“Our competitors attend”

“It’s just what we do”

“It’s nice to get out of the office”

If one of those answers seemed about right to you, you need to reconsider your motives. The fact of the matter is that many events are just an expensive way to spend two or three days in a room with your competitors.

Before you attend any event, you need to know exactly what it is you want to get out of it. Only once you have worked this out can you work out whether it is worth investing in.

Let's say for example that you want to get a new product in front of specific customers. An event could be a great place to do this. However, you would also want to work with the event organiser to ensure that your customers will actually be attending. Otherwise, you are just advertising your new product to competitors and those who have no interest.

Knowing your goal before you attend an event will help inform every decision, it will also enable you to measure the success of the event once it is over.

Understand Your Audience

Knowing that potential customers will be at an event will help you know whether it is worth your while attending. But taking the time to understand who your audience are will help you tailor your messaging and deliver marketing in a way that makes an impact and resonates with them.

crowd watch presentation at industry event

Creating customer personas will help you understand who you will be targeting. It is important to remember that when you tailor your event marketing to your customers it may mean you don't appeal to everyone in attendance. This can seem counter-intuitive, but by focusing your efforts on attracting only those who are valuable to your business you will ultimately drive much better results.

Stand Out from the Crowd

Although a gimmick or a great quality freebee can be a good way to attract people to your stand, they rarely help you attract the attention of the people who truly matter. Instead, focus on communicating the challenges you help solve.

This can be done by investing in a stand or pull up banner that highlight exactly what it is you help your customers achieve. However, be careful not to focus too heavily on your products, instead focus on exactly how you can help.

Another way to stand out from the crowd is you consider where people’s attention will be. Often eye level is saturated with multiple marketing messages from all those exhibiting. Try thinking outside the box and promoting your business in different areas and at different levels.

For example, a well-placed a-board can help you attract those not directly at your stand. You may also use a flag sign to grab attention and draw people to where you are located.

Reach Out Before the Event

On occasion, event organisers will help you plan for an event by sending you a list of those who will be in attendance. This list can be useful in helping you reach out to valuable prospects and arrange to meet ahead of time.

However, on other occasions, the event organiser will be very private about those who will be in attendance. This can be frustrating, but doesn't stop you from reaching out to those of your customers who you think may be attending the event, asking them if they would like to meet.

Even if you discover your customers or potential customers will not be attending, inviting them to do so can be a good way to make them feel special help you build a strong relationship.

Select Your Team Carefully

So far, we have primarily spoken about how to understand your audience and how to attract them to your stand. One element of attending industry events that are often overlooked is asking yourself who your customers would want to meet from your business.

team listen to event brief

Events are an opportunity to bring your customers value. Filling your stand with salespeople can lead to alienating attendees. Of course, having sales expertise on hand is crucial, but picking a team that can both sell and bring real value to customers is essential for event success.

Other goals for attending an event may include gathering information on industry trends and getting insight into competitors. So, you may also consider picking someone good at gathering information in these areas.

Go Beyond the Stand

When businesses invest in an exhibition stand it can be easy to get caught up in ensuring everything runs smoothly. However, plenty of opportunities to do business exist outside of your dedicated space.

Going to more neutral areas such as a breakout area, coffee stall or presentation area can help you interact with potential customers more naturally. These areas are hotbeds for great networking.

By creating a schedule for your team to be at the stand you allow for each member to take the time to explore these areas.

Making Your Next Event a Success

Events are great for business, but they can also be pricey. Taking the time to ensure that you will be able to achieve your goals is a good way to increase your return on investment and drive the results you want.

Follow the steps in the guide to get more out of your industry event attendance.

Business Bio

Red17 are the UK’s leading online supplier of sign, print and display products. The team at Red17 have extensive experience in helping businesses leverage signs to increase efficiency and promote themselves in a way that grabs customer attention in the right way, at the right time.


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