How to Stand Out at an Industry Event?
"People don’t just buy goods and services they buy relations, stories, and magic" - Seth Godin
The addition of technology into the supply chain industry has been a quantum leap. This is why decision makers require interaction with freight-tech providers to properly evaluate solutions that benefit their employees and customers. Events and industry trade shows bring buyers and sellers together in one place to explore the latest solutions and find ways to optimize operations. We came to value the importance of in-person meetings and events.
As the world was slowly recuperating from the pandemic in 2021, events slowly made their way back into the marketing mix. The supply chain industry took baby steps with conferences and events, initially conducting online events and then hybrid events (a mix of in-person and online) to maximize attendees before, now, full scale conferences.
When professionals meet in person, more meaningful conversations occur and relationships are forged faster than when meeting on Zoom calls. And there are always business dinners that give buyers and sellers a chance to unwind and talk about business in a more relaxed setting.
But how does your company stand head-and-shoulders above the competition at these events?
An integral part of participating in an industry event is public relations (PR), telling the world about your brand's story and essential milestones. PR helps shape public perception of your business while creating awareness of your solutions. A company must stand out to build awareness, generate leads for sales, build media relationships, and reinforce customer relations. Trade shows are also a great place to meet investors, prospects, partners and valued customers. A robust approach to trade shows is essential.
Follow these steps for assured success at trade shows:
Events generate a lot of internet traffic, so make sure to create a lot of buzz on all your social media channels starting about eight weeks before the event. If you have access to the attendee lists, connect with them on LinkedIn or send e-mails if you already have contacts, telling them that you will be at the event, and how meeting with you can help their business. Engage with attendees on Twitter, and LinkedIn, asking them to stop by your booth. Promoting the event before, during, and after it is key to making your brand more visible, so be sure to make full use of all your social media channels for the most significant reach. You may want to create look-alike audiences using contact information already available in your contacts list or CRM.
Define your goals
What is the purpose of your business or organization attending the event? The answer should be crystal clear. Is it brand recognition, networking, or lead generation? When you are clear on the objective(s), you can build strategies and tactics to measure success. Then, align your PR tactics accordingly - such as making materials available in the press room, and scheduling meetings with journalists, analysts, customers, prospects, partners, and industry pundits.
Create a bang
If budget permits, always snag a high-level sponsorship. This gives you front-row access, a speaking spot, and a display booth. However, if budget is an issue, think of strategies outside the event, like the pre-event cocktail/dinner party where you put your logo on cups, napkins, and signage to increase visibility. The feel you create should reflect your brand, and the decor should align with your brand's image, creating a solid and lasting impression.
Events are where new relationships are built. Offering a physical giveaway is crucial to keep your company in your prospect’s or customer’s mind. These can be hats, pens, bags, etc. All lead back to your company!
Creativity should not be limited to your booth. Take it further and organize an event!
Renting a craft cocktail bar and having a limousine shuttle your VIPs to the event and back are good strategies. Axe throwing, pickleball tournaments, and other experiential marketing techniques can work wonders to both help you stand out at a trade show and ensure your network has a great time.
Trade events are fun. They are expensive. And they require a combined effort by sales and marketing. So make sure you plan ahead.
Establish measurable goals. Plan to create a big bang. And make sure to connect with as many customers, prospects, and media folks as possible.
You can find the top supply chain and logistics events to attend in 2023 here.
Prepare and prevent, don’t repair and repent.