Opportunities for marketing at events can be found at community events, trade shows, and conferences. Most events will have a variety of channels available including: spaces the day of, sponsorships, programs, promotional items, etc.

Marketing Mix

So where do events fit in the marketing plan for your business? Going back to the Customer relationship diagram and our three purposes of marketing, it can create awareness, establish you as an expert in your field, build company reputation and create potential customers in the “positive opinion but not yet purchased” category, and always a plus “satisfied customer” category.

Taking all of that into consideration, events can be a good value for your marketing dollar.

Choosing the Event

There are a wide variety of choices in events from the international to local level. Choosing one will be determined based on your budget as well as whom your customer is.

Organization: Some issues to consider are who is organizing the event? What is their experience and track record? How long has the event been running? How many attendees are there and who are they? Where is the event being promoted? Does it benefit a charitable organization? What is included in each exhibitor and sponsorship level? Are there opportunities for in-kind sponsorship, speaking, performance, or demonstrations?

Using Picnic on the Park as an example, the first year of the event was 2004 benefiting The Mission NE with between 1,200 and 1,500 people attending. The 2005 event benefited The Village Learning and Achievement Center and between 3,500 and 4,000 attended.

The primary attendees were families with children under 12. It was a planned outing for many, with not just mom, dad, and the kids, but mom, dad, the kids, grandma and grandpa and aunts and uncles. Entire playgroups came and made a day of it.

Questions like this are important to ask as your marketing and target goals will be much different depending on whether it is at a community event like Picnic on the Park where people are attending in groups versus a craft show or holiday marketing where people are coming individually or in pairs to shop.

Industry driven vs. Customer Driven

Should you choose an industry-driven event, such as a home show, where there is a specific type of vendor, or customer-driven event where the attendees fit your target market?

The upside to an industry-driven event is that you can be pretty sure that the only people attending are those that are interested in your type of product or service. The downside is that all the vendors are in the same industry and it will be harder to establish a presence in the mind of the attendees.

In a customer-driven event, not everyone that attends will be interested in what you offer. However, mostly likely there will not be as much competition in your category as there would be at an industry-driven event.

Also, you may be able to create new customers for your product or service. For example, if you offer therapeutic massage and attend a Wellness event, all the attendees are already interested in that topic. While at a customer-driven event, you may create awareness of the benefits of your product or service in individuals that previously did not have an interest in it.

Event Focus

Once you have chosen an event, what will the focus of your participation be? To make the most of an event, look at how it fits in the overall marketing plan for your business. Do you want to promote a special event or sale, expand your customer base, establish your company as an expert in your field, or is it product sales?

Set Goals

Taking into consideration the type of event, demographics of the attendees, and your business focus, set goals for the event. For example, a certain dollar amount in product sales, X number of people added to your mailing list, or so many coupons handed out.

Pre Event Marketing

In order to ensure that you meet your goals, do your own pre-event marketing.
For example, Leslie Shatto with The Shops on Granberry lists all the events that her shop will be at on her website, articles, and marketing materials.

One thing that I found at the last Picnic on Park and helping with other events, in today’s economic environment there were limited “impulse buys” the day of the event; however, there were “considered” buys afterwards.

So if you want to maximize your sales the day of the event, turn impulse buys into considered buys by letting your existing customers know you will be at the event and any specials or promotions you will be running. Mail or email preferred customer coupons to use that day.

Event Marketing

The day of the event, you want to be able to draw customers into your booth, get something in their hand that has your business information that they can take with them, and have a method to get their information so that you can follow-up with them.

Events can be a vital part of your marketing mix. We will be holding two seminars in August titled The Exhibitor’s Edge which will cover:

• 10 Ways to Maximize Profits
• Choosing the Right Event
• Setting Goals
• Pre-Event Marketing
• Creating a Customer Draw
• Effective Booth Layout
• Selling to Customer Needs
• Post-Event Marketing
• Creating Customers for Life

If you would like to include events as part of your marketing plan, or would like to fine tune your existing event marketing strategy, join us for this informative event.