Exhibiting at trade shows isn't enough

At the time of writing this piece, there are just four weeks left until 55 000 visitors from 170 countries walk through the doors of the IBC Show 2018.  The previews have been published and most of the show news is already planned out, so you’d expect that the 1700-odd exhibitors paying (quite frankly) enormous sums of money to show their wares would be well into their exhibition marketing campaigns to ensure that the show provides a return on investment.  

As part of our IBC preparations this year, the Little Cricket team analysed the marketing efforts of the 208 IBC Show exhibitors with a base in the UK.  It was a simple, if laborious, exercise where we checked each exhibitor’s IBC listing, website, news, blog posts and social feeds to establish whether they were using these tools to promote their presence at the show.  We weren’t testing the quality of the campaigns or the efficacy of their marketing activities, we were just interested in whether or not these exhibitors were using the tools at their disposal to make sure their clients and prospects were aware of the fact that they would be exhibiting at IBC.  And we were surprised to discover how many of them weren’t.

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Less than a month before the IBC exhibition, over twelve percent of the exhibitors that we reviewed made no mention of the show on their website or in their social media feeds.  And almost fifty percent of them only update their online news and social content sporadically.

Exhibiting at trade shows is expensive, besides the cost of the space, stand design and construction, there’s travel, subsistence and manpower to factor into your exhibition budget, and marketing departments are under increasing pressure to prove that these expenses generate revenue in return.

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IBC is billed as the most influential annual event for professionals engaged in the creation, management and delivery of electronic media, worldwide, but with 50 000 square meters to cover and thousands of exhibitors vying for their attention, most show visitors have decided which stands they’ll be visiting long before they arrive at the RAI, which is why pre-show marketing and PR is so important. 

It simply costs too much to exhibit to rely solely on your stand’s appeal to attract visitors.

This doesn’t mean that exhibition success is reserved only for those with deep marketing pockets or high-profiles – it just requires sustained marketing and PR effort throughout the year.  By contributing to trade press, sharing your own news and content on your website and social media and taking part in industry conversations throughout the year, and then boosting these activities before and during a trade show, your brand should be top of mind when visitors plan their show diary.  Then you just need a kick-ass stand make sure visitors are attracted to your brand during their limited unscheduled time.

The best time to start preparing for next year’s show is now.   

It simply costs too much to exhibit at IBC to rely solely on your stand’s appeal to attract visitors
— Little Cricket PR