Tips for an Outstanding Event with Smiling, Happy Customers – by Katarina Linden
Most of my colleagues coordinators of exhibition stand and events will probably agree that there are three things we can do to give people at an event a memorable experience: a comfortable and, if possible, impressive venue – say something that is meaningful to them – and, last but not least: create emotional associations through entertainment.
That is the creative interaction of any event. How can you reach that?
Let me quote some wise words from Maya Angelou:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Associate messaging with emotions
This is not something to treat lightly. The right entertainment reflects your company’s culture. It is great if it can integrate your messaging.
At one company where I worked, the customers could have a basketball competition against a construction machine: fun way to talk about the versatility and strength of the machine, and the value of good operator training.
The customer then got a branded basketball as a gift.
The best thing you could do to promote your product is to link it to your entertainment. Hiring a magician / pickpocket to promote security products is great. Making people interact in a playful way with your company is the best way to make sure they remember you.
Another time, we provided free shuttle-buses between the airport and the stand – our corporate video was playing in the bus and there was a strong branding on the outside with our key product displayed on the stand.
In most cases, nothing works like music, visuals and live entertainment. This is an important part of creating a connection with the customer: showing them a good time.
Well-known music is top of my list, because music is all about emotion. And when the participants hear it again they will associate it with the event, and by association also with its host. However, playing well-known music at a public event can quickly escalate costs. If your event is a trade fair stand, make sure to contact your national association in charge of music rights. Establish personal contact so that you can ask the right questions – you might find the solution to play that cool music!
Video and graphics
Images can have a big impact in any setting. They will play a major part in attracting attention and creating the mood of an event, especially in a trade fair. Big video walls can be a big part of creating a mood on your stand – but you must have good film material to show on the screen otherwise it can backfire!
Having a screen in your booth certainly is a great eye-catching tool. Yet, it can also become a nightmare. You must be clear about the type of file it can play (mp4, avi, mpg2, mkv, etc.), the type of input you can use (USB, SD card, DVD, VGA, etc.) and the ratio of the screen (16:9, 4:3, etc.). You better find a professional to set it up for you. Also remember that good videos don’t require sound: if the event is noisy, no one could hear what your video says.
Depending on your industry, the event and your audience, live show of some kind can be a bit of a gamble, and it needs to be carefully planned in order to bring the right message and have the right impact on your audience.
- A show just for the sake of drawing an audience can be a costly budget item – it might not bring the results if the audience leaves when the pure entertainment is over.
- Be cautious with ‘artistic’ and with humor. The ‘artistic’ can become tasteless and humor can be very personal. The show can send a wrong image of your company culture.
- A noisy game can draw a crowd but hinder the salesmen in the work.
- A well-planned performance reflects positively your company culture and integrates a link to messaging.
- Most importantly: always view the performers before the event. Review the content, the playlist or the performance – and don’t hesitate to request changes if necessary.
Have a meaningful message
We have only a few moments to create a first impression. It’s often said that a customer should be able to work through a trade fair stand in about three minutes, and be able to pick up the main messages of your campaign, even without talking to anyone. Our aim as trade fair stand organizers is usually to make the product appeal on a personal level, by knowing what your customers are looking for
- Make your message relevant. Put yourself in the event visitors’ shoes: what would make them care?
- Make your message strong. A message does not just list features of the product. It should be concise, clear and consistent – and, if possible, powerful.
- Implement the messaging consistently: have a theme. Communicating an idea seamlessly and coherently usually takes experience, but it’s a crucial aspect of event management. It is useful to create a theme, and the theme should be based on the objectives. That theme can then be brought ‘to life’ throughout the event: invitations, giveaways and even the entertainment. Events like trade fairs are important tools for communicating the selling points of a company’s products, but they also transmit a company’s values and create brand awareness.
Your logo should be large and visible from far. Use your brand colors to highlight your booth and make it easy to recognize. Avoid small elements and unreadable text: stick with large elements, photos, slogans.
Always take care of the basics
Such things as the venue, the catering and the entertainment are certainly part of the foundation of a successful social occasion. As organizers we always have to take care of the basics – and sometimes manage the unexpected!
I once received an unexpected delivery of 11 pallets of individually packed posters, the day before the opening of a big show: I had not allocated any space to store them and had no plan for the distribution. After some frantic searching, we were able to find the storage space, and during the event we toured the show floor to hand out the packed posters to random visitors. And when an unexpected group of 60 customers from Poland came to visit the stand, it was great to be able to hand them such special gift.
Experience will enable the organizer to find creative solutions and implement them seamlessly in the background.
All of the above factors play a role in creating the right communication between your company and your audience. But what sets off one event and makes it outstanding, what makes exhibition stands and events such a great tool for building relations with your customers, is that they can create emotional bonds.
For me, success is about seeing happy and smiling customers.