As 2022 draws to a close, marketing managers are setting budgets for next year. In this article, we look at why marketing professionals should include exhibition stands in the 2023 marketing budget.
Marketing professionals face a changing economy. Markets emerging from the global pandemic are grappling with an energy crisis, the threat of economic recession, and a focus on sustainable and climate-conscious solutions to all aspects of a business. In addition, Google and other search engines are adding new restrictions on digital marketing, type of content, and forms of advertising. Consequently, forcing marketers to reevaluate their primary marketing channels. In this context, marketing professionals are navigating budget setting and campaign development for 2023.
There is a renewed appreciation for the value of relationships and interpersonal connections when doing business. The clinical distance created by societies to survive the pandemic has made us aware of the importance of interpersonal connections. As a result, there is new appreciation and value derived from looking a person in the eye, shaking their hand, and signing that deal on paper – using a nicely branded pen.
Exhibitions are the marketing opportunity that delivers the human connection to build business relationships and in-person engagement.
Why include exhibition stands in the 2023 marketing budget and why exhibit at trade shows, exhibitions, and conferences?
Shorten the sales cycle
Business events, exhibitions, and trade shows offer the opportunity to shorten the sales cycle for sponsors and exhibitors. It is reasonable to understand that because attendees at these events are c-level executives, decision-makers, and business owners whose purpose for attendance is to create new business deals, the sales cycle is shortened.
This captive target audience trumps any other marketing channel reach by creating the space to have relevant and meaningful conversations with the right people at the right time. Accordingly, business decisions are reached quicker at exhibitions and events than when compared to day-to-day sales activities. As a result, deals in the pipeline can be nudged across the line and closed in the meeting room of the exhibition stand. The opportunity to shorten the sales cycle motivates marketing managers to include exhibition stands in the 2023 marketing budget.
Emphasize brand presence
Companies exhibiting have the opportunity to take center stage with the level of branding and design of the exhibition stand. Exhibition stand design can elevate the perception of a brand to that of an industry leader and create the space to attract and engage sales and business development conversations.
From showstopper stands to package booths, branded elements send the right message to the target audience. An example of how branding elements work; rigged overhead banners or a bulkhead above the exhibition stand creates an impression of dominant market presence. The reason for this is because this branding is visible across the exhibition hall. Graphics that pop using backlighting can be the eye-catching detail that sets a package stand apart from the rest of the aisle. This eye catching detail will draw attention and enhance perceptions of the brand.
Business network growth
Engaging conversations with industry peers, leaders, and even competitors begin with sharing business cards and marketing collateral at the exhibition stand. These new network connections form the basis for discussions of how companies can collaborate in the future.
Industry knowledge and innovation
Industry leaders and experts attend the conferences and workshops that form part of the overall event program with the exhibition. The themes and topics of conference panel discussions and workshops are relevant to the current industry situation. Staying updated and learning about innovation within the industry is a benefit of exhibiting at a trade show.
Consider Which Trade Show Or Exhibition To Attend
Choose to exhibit at a tradeshow or event with a healthy balance of local and national government support, private sector attendance, and a track record of international exposure.
Your budget will impact the decision about which event to attend. Floor space at popular events with significant exposure to high-level international delegates and ministers can be in US Dollars or Euros. Ask the organiser for a list of sponsors, delegates, and exhibitors registered for the current and previous events before purchasing floor space. You can then make an informed decision and target your efforts accordingly.
We have prepared a useful list of exhibitions and tradeshows happening in South Africa for 2023:
Setting the budget for your exhibition stand:
Items to consider in your budget,
- Floor space (usually set per sq meter) purchased from the organiser
- Raw space versus a stand package through the organiser
- Number of delegates attending from your company – usually a set number included in the floor space or package
- Location and cost of traveling to attend the event
- Pre-event campaigns; digital, print, attending other networking events in the lead-up to your exhibition.
- Stand builder fee depending on the space you bought.
- Event swag and experiential elements to the stand (gifts)
- Hire a meeting room from the organiser or include a meeting room in the exhibition stand design
- Client entertainment budget
- Feedback report campaign.
Working with professional stand builders
HOTT3D recommends working with professional stand builders who are members of a professional association such as EXSA, who have a proven track record of happy clients. Typically, stand builders require a 75% deposit to begin producing the work. For this reason, working with trusted brands in this industry is an essential part of risk management. We have published guidance on working with professional stand builders and a checklist.
When you brief a stand-building supplier, inform them if you plan to exhibit at more than one show per year. The stand builder should then include an overall stand solution proposal that can be used at all the shows and adjusted slightly to suit the unique message for each trade show. Additionally, incorporating all your exhibition stand plans into one budget should result in more value for money. This is compared to the unnecessary expense incurred as a result of costing each exhibition stand separately.
Attracting the Right People to Your Exhibition Stand?
Part of setting the budget for exhibition stands is measuring the return on investment (ROI) when reporting on the budget spent. One way that the ROI is justified is by demonstrating that you attracted and engaged with individuals who are decision-makers from your target industry. Consider who you plan to engage with on your exhibition stand and set up plans to invite them for meetings during the event. Email, social media, and other digital channels are effective marketing channels to attract the right people to your exhibition stand.
Make the most Return On Investment once you decide to include exhibition stands in the 2023 marketing budget.
- Research the target market that attends that particular exhibition or trade show
- Set up a plan to meet professionals at your stand.
- Start with the groundwork 4 – 6 weeks before the event.
- It is not advisable to leave meetings to chance.
- Call, mail, and set up meeting times at the booth with prospects you know will be interested in attending the event.
- This meeting invitation can be in the form of an emailer, social media campaign, or landing page set up specifically relating to the event.
- Consider including a meeting room or area in your exhibition stand space
The Midas Touch in Exhibitions – Relationship Building
Turning your exhibition stand budget into gold needs people, the right kind of people.
Once you have the sign-off and approval to include exhibition stands in the 2023 marketing budget and have et the budget, we recommend moving onto considering who the people are that will be present at your stand.
Often we see stands with a significant amount of floor space and branding being attended to by a lonely hired host or hostess. The boredom on the face of the unfortunate person left to deal with questions beyond their skill level does nothing to invite any interest in the stand.
Choose your best people with refined soft skills to work on the stand. In addition to expertise and knowledge about the brand and products, soft skills are vital to building connections. Ensure people with decision-making power to enable solutions there and then are present at the stand. Competent people will ensure that the exhibition stand generates leads and new business.
For trusted expert advice, talk to HOTT3D about your exhibition needs for 2023.