From the yesteryear of my career the classic meetings industry marketing tools still linger in the memory, most of them being the various providers’ catalogues and usually prepared by publishers, associations or a destination. The annual catalogue of the ICCA members was sought-after and a main reference point, with expensive and slow distribution through direct mail the dominant mode of communication.
Thinking about it from today’s perspective, their use value was at about the level of a phone book and the time dimension irrelevant compared to the present. Just how much marketing methods have changed is also proven by trade shows, which due their complex marketing demands have taken on an important role in the meetings industry’s marketing side.
The reference point for key providers today are the digital catalogues of the global and regional trade shows, or, more coarsely put: if you’re not on the list of either IMEX, EIBTM, or other important regional trade shows, then for the global meetings industry you pretty much do not exist. Trade shows are no longer reflecting the use of the old sales catalogues – they are becoming modern marketing machinery.
In addition to the widely adopted changes in the way we communicate, the attitude towards brands and the general relationship between buyers and sellers has also changed. A trade show is a brand and a marketing platform, which through a systematic approach attracts potential buyers and turns them into promising customers. Through constant nurturing and upgrading of relations they are then turned into your buyers.
A business trade show helps you in four key areas of B2B marketing:
- It enables potential buyers to notice you, to discover you and then to get to know you as a credible partner. The Internet is the key tool for exploring, learning, benchmarking and independent decision-making and informed buyers of convention services increasingly trust the online and aditional information supplied by renowned trade show organisers. The web portal also plays a key role in this in ensuring the broadest possible outreach for meetings industry website visitors.
- Business trade shows offer you a number of tools with which you can find yourself on buyers’ radars. Firstly, however, you must provide interesting content that attracts attention and that you can share further. Most of the tools to create superior and eye-catching material are free of charge. You need only think of social networks through which you can attract the right target group of buyers and distribute your content.
- In agreement with the organisers you can prepare targeted campaigns that are designed in such a way to offer something to hosted buyers in return. Most trade show organisers will adopt such ideas and proposals with enthusiasm. This call to action can be two-way through links and cross-links between the organiser’s website and your own portal.
- Satisfied trade show participants are also supporters of participating exhibitors and partners. Positive recall can more quickly lead to sales conversion and you can make a good impression through inclusion on social networks and the many opportunities offered by the organisers. More sophisticated methods are associated with advanced campaigns analytics that through performance analysis tools give you different answers to the question of what your congress customers are most responsive to.
Personally, I believe that trade shows are one of the key tools for building relationships with potential buyers and in raising your image. In addition to sales they also allow you to leave a good impression on potential buyers, which is invaluable in further stages of the sales conversions.
Added value on the case of Conventa trade show:
DIGITAL STATS: The Conventa web portal receives monthly visits of on average 7,450 unique visitors. B2B promotion is based on the rapidly growing database, which has grown to 39,816 contacts with whom we regularly communicate and inform about the project and our partners.
RESULT: 1,205 Hosted Buyers from 36 Countries; 616 Exhibitors from 11 Countries.
IMPACT: Conventa annually expands its range of year-round promotional activities of the trade show, which are included free of charge in the exhibition packages. The promotion is based on the constantly growing database of potential invited guests and tools such as the e-catalogue Meet in SEE, the e-newspaper Conventa and the project’s fast-growing social networks.
About the author:
Gorazd Čad is a veteran convention tourism addict. Founder and owner of the marketing and congress agency TOLERANCA MARKETING, he has numerous years of experience in the planning, preparation and execution of major international trade shows and fairs. Having started his career in Cankarjev dom, where he project-led on fairs such as Infos, Kapital, Bits & Fun, Slovenian Wine Festival and many others, work in his private capacity has given him a long and multi-faceted experience of developing B2B trade shows, the most noteworthy of these being Conventa, Space, Natour and Hot-Rest.
B2B selling solutions sit at the heart of the action of his work and are the key specialisation with proven added value and measurable results.