What if You Build it and They Don’t Come?

When a show manager comes to me with a new show, we always do a sort of brainstorming session. We discuss the show, the types of attendees and exhibitors we are trying to cater to and of course sponsorships.

Put away your PSL and UGG boots. This is no time to be basic, you need to be specific and pointed because when you build it you don’t just want anyone to come.

You want the right attendees, the right exhibitors, and the right sponsors. Because if you market to everyone, you’re marketing to no one.

Not for Lack of Trying

While we shouldn’t spend much time being pessimistic about outcomes, it’s helpful to be aware that without proper planning and promotion the outcome could be dismal.

Instead of letting that scare us, we need to use that to fuel our desire to leave no stone unturned when it comes to using opportunities that will propel us to success.

Sometimes it’s the idea that’s flawed. Sometimes it’s ineffective promotion.

Whatever industry you are representing, it’s vitally important that you realize you can’t be everything to everyone – doing so only makes you less effective.

I encourage others to discover what’s not being serviced and fill that void.

As an example, we all know that beauty/spa shows are not hard to come by, so when a client of mine wanted to launch a nonspecific medical spa show I encouraged her to go super niche.

It was wildly successful.

The key is to have clients think outside of the proverbial box, but not so much that it becomes obscure and ambiguous – skating on the outer perimeter is the sweet spot.

Be exclusive and offer something that no one else is offering.

Getting Those Numbers

You can only be the best show for your exhibitors and clients if you have not only high attendance, but attendees that are dialed in and craving what you’re selling.

Your marketing needs to be on point and not an afterthought.

I’ve written several blogs on varying topics that will help guide your marketing messaging.

Click here to read tips on how to further promote your show.

Here are some ways to ensure attendee numbers stay high…

Best Show for Exhibitors

Exhibitors and Sponsors want assurance that when they attend/sponsor your show, they will get the best bang for their buck.

One way to do this is by presenting them with data from previous shows as proof that you know what you are doing – like how to attract attendees, generate sales, and seal the deal on new business contracts. This sets the tone by showing them that your show is the place to be.

Pro-tip: Include past and current testimonials to help relieve any lingering doubts.

Best Show for New Ideas

Attendees don’t want to attend a show that gives them deja vu, they want to see new products and new technology at your show. Wow them with the latest and greatest.

Not only does your show need to be the one that is a must-attend for guests, but it also needs to be the one that exhibitors feel like they can’t miss out on. I recommend offering special incentives to first-time exhibitors.

Pro-tip: Personalize your offers to show exhibitors that you want them to have the best experience possible.

Hosted Buyer Program (HBP)

I dedicated an entire blog to what I like to refer to as my expo matchmaking survival guide, aka the Hosted Buyer Program, and you can read all about it here.

Face-to-face time for buyers and exhibitors, assuming that they have been properly vetted to be a good fit, is always a good idea. The potential for collaboration and increased sales can be the perfect recipe for building a successful show.

Pro-tip:  Host a casual educational and networking session for buyers and sellers to learn more about other industries and companies they might want to collaborate with.

Best Show for Influencers

Pairing up with the right influencer – one that has a following that’s similar to your target audience – can work magic for your show by making your marketing dollars go farther.

To create the best show possible for influencers, offer those you have teamed up discounted rates and exclusive meet and greet opportunities. I also like to set aside space just for them that has comfortable seating, a charging station, and refreshments.

Pro-tip: Create extra buzz by providing your influencers with sample products to give away in a promotion to their followers.

Better Than Intentions

Listen, I wish the best of intentions were always good enough, but sadly, they aren’t. Creating something with the expectation that it will be a big sell can lead to madness.

But if you implement strategies that will help to create the best environment and the best marketing techniques, then you shouldn’t need to lie awake at night worrying if anyone will show up.

And by reading this post you have already shown that you have the tenacity and good sense to build an event that will be a tremendous success.

Good Luck!