Meet the Experts – Social Media with Manon Pleiter
Hello Manon, welcome to The Exhibitor! Tell us a little about your journey.
After completing two literature studies at the University of Nijmegen (Netherlands) I started working as a web editor for a semi government organization in the physical activity sector. I got promoted to communications consultant and I soon specialized in online media. I was responsible for the online communication, marketing and strategy including websites, LinkedIn company page and company Twitter account. I was also community manager of the online community, in which almost 4.000 professionals participated.
I started working at my current position as online marketer and communication professional at an international Dutch stand builder earlier this year.
Furthermore, I’m an active blog writer. At the moment, I’m writing for two Dutch websites: one which is all about women and cars and one for whom I’m writing about everything concerning astronomy and astrology.
How early should companies start with their online promotion before an exhibition?
You should start as early as 4 months before the exhibition with your online promotion . At that time, you registered at the exhibition and your booth is being designed.
Put the logo of the exhibition on your website and in your e-mail signature.
Let your followers on social media know that you are going to the exhibition and publish a few teasers to make them curious (a picture of the booth design, a sneak peak of the product you’re promoting at the exhibition, etc.)
Two months before the event you can publish more info about the exhibition and the goal of your participation (new product, new service, increasing your name or network) to make sure people are going to visit your booth.
What methods companies should use to promote their presence at an event?
- If your company sends out a newsletter, you could write a short article about your presence at the event to let your readers know you are attending.
- Send an e-mail to your clients/suppliers/network etc. to invite them to this event.
- Use your site to place the event logo or banner.
- Use your online media channels to post updates about the design of the booth, the product and the event.
- React to other social media channels publishing updates about the event. For example, if the event has a Twitter channel/hashtag, retweet their tweets and promote your presence.
- Most events publish an overview of the exhibitors on their website. Make sure that your company is present with the right logo and link.
Here are a few types of content you could use to promote your presence on your social media channels:
- If you got free entrance passes, hold a competition to give your followers a chance to win them.
- Use a countdown: every month (and the last month every week) you can post a short reminder “just two weeks before the opening of…. Will you be there?”
- Make sure your followers will visit your booth/event by showing them what your special plans are at the event (special food or drinks, live entertainment, free gadgets etc.)
- Use sneak peaks to make them curious
What are the key elements for a successful booth and why?
If you want to stand out of the crowd, your booth should attract attention by being original in design an it must be of great quality.
It’s also important that your booth is designed to support your goal: if you’re launching a product, the product must be the center of the attention in your booth. And of course your booth must clearly tell who you are.
The place of the booth: try to get a corner space, because you will attract a lot more attention if your booth is not ‘hidden’ behind or between other booths.
Attract visitors: make sure your booth is not only being seen, but also worth visiting. In the past few years, the experience around the booth has become more important. Use special lighting or video in your booth. You can also arrange live entertainment.
What should companies do, from their booth, to drive additional traffic?
There are a lot of things you can do during the exhibition to attract traffic. Some examples:
- Make sure your exhibition crew is well prepared and looks neat and recognizable.
- Don’t call, eat or sit behind your laptop during the exhibition.
- Always be friendly, enthusiastic and interested.
- Be inviting and help visitors to overcome their initial hesitation.
- Create a quiet spot in your booth where you can talk to your visitors.
- Don’t stay in your booth but walk in the aisles as well.
- Last but not least: hand out useful and nice gadgets so visitors take your company name home.
Many events do not provide good or affordable WiFi to their exhibitors. Do you have tricks to overcome that issue?
You could use your mobile phone as a WiFi hotspot for your booth, so you and your visitors at least have good WiFi. Do make sure you have a large data plan on your phone!
What should be the KPIs for companies to monitor their trade show success?
The right KPI will depend on the exhibition goal that you’ve established for this exhibition. Is it to sell a product or to expend your network and increase your brand awareness? In any case, you have to take the time to evaluate and collect the results of the exhibition. Therefor it’s wise to choose KPIs that also show the long term effect.
If you want to sell a product, a good KPI would be the sales impact in the six months after the exhibition. Or the number of new sales leads, brochure requests, etc.
If your looking to expend your network and increase your brand awareness a good KPI would be to monitor the brand image a year after the exhibition or gained market share.
What do you advise companies to do to insure proper return on investment?
There are a few components that are important for a successful exhibition.
Before the exhibition
First you have to settle a goal for the exhibition (for example promoting an new product, networking, spreading knowledge, increase brand awareness) and a target group. Then you establish your exhibition budget and the expected ROI. After that, you can choose an exhibition that’s attracting the right visitors for you, both in quantity and in quality. Furthermore, you must make sure that the right visitors are actually coming to visit your stand. You can arrange this by sending them an e-mail and making sure your booth is standing out and well designed.
During the exhibition
At the exhibition, you must make sure that the conversations you have with visitors are significant and valuable. They must send the right message: the message you want to send by attending this exhibition and that supports the established exhibition goal.
After the exhibitionYou’re not done working when the exhibition comes to an end . An important factor to insure a good ROI is the follow up. Send a “thank you for visiting our booth” gift to possible leads and make sure those leads are followed up. Send or mail the documentations that visitors applied for and confirm appointments you made during the exhibition.
Any additional tips for our readers?
Put yourself in the visitor position when establishing your event goals and designing your booth: what does the visitor expect and what does he want to see?
Train your “booth crew”. Make sure they are enthusiastic and supporting the goal and that everyone is clear on their tasks, how to address visitors etc.
Always stay awake, alert en friendly, also at the end of a long exhibition day!