We still call ourselves a startup, but the truth is we’ve got plenty of experience points under our belts here at Feathr. In the past three years, despite pivots and two cross-country moves, we’ve worked with over a thousand events. In the process, we’ve learned that there are two ways to approach trade shows, expos, and conferences.
The most prevalent way to think of events is as a happening. A three-day extravaganza that descends on a venue like a battalion—bustling by booths; herding into keynotes; swapping business cards and cocktails. Then everyone goes home, the event rapidly fading from their memories in a haze until next year.
Face-to-face events will always feature this component. Gatherings are the backbone of our industry and our humanity. But with plateaued industry growth and a rising tide of digital competition, organizers need to get the most mileage out of their events or risk obsolescence.
The new way to think of events is as a brand unto themselves. Marketers will nod knowingly at this, even if attendees and exhibitors don’t think of events that way. We must recognize the live event experience as a 365-day-a-year ROI opportunity.
Events create a marketplace between your attendees and exhibitors—but are you doing everything possible to monetize your audience year-round? You can start as simply as using the data you already have, such as content consumption trends, webinar attendance, and session attendance at last year’s event. Putting this data to work, you may already be providing compelling content marketing to distinct segments of users.
Another way to maximize your event ROI all year is by making sure sponsors and audiences connect via technology, data, and face-to-face meetings. Your exhibitors want access to attendees before, during, and after the event. By taking a 365-day perspective and leveraging digital tools and audience data, you can provide value and monetize access between those parties throughout the year while keeping updated with your business and brand partnerships.
Start small by keeping in touch with event audiences. Email, social media, and the event app itself are excellent starting places. Publishing engaging content and hosting industry-specific webinars, niche events, and discussions a few times a year keeps your event at the top of your audience’s mind, as do digital tactics like retargeting and omni-channel marketing.
Let go of the notion that your every move be aimed at driving registrations. Focus on providing educational and entertainment value year-round with content like articles, polls, photos, or videos. Featuring exhibitors and sponsors throughout the year is another way to elicit cross-promotional opportunities and expand the audience of both brands. This can be done by driving traffic to referral landing pages and including them in your digital and live outreach events. A year-round engagement plan only needs to inspire an audience to think about your brand during the off season. That’s part of the overall experience, and it’s essential in today’s market.
Here at Feathr, we are always happy to hear from event and association pros who want to get more ROI out of their events. How do you engage your audience 24/7/365?