Meet the Experts - The Exhibitor

Meet the Experts – Event Consulting with Marco Barozzi

Hello Marco, welcome to The Exhibitor! Tell us a little about you and your professional journey.

My career started working in the Sales and Shipping Dept. of a forwarding agent. That experience gave me a strong sense of what it means to serve customers and how to do it efficiently. It also prepared me to understand the customer engagement that was necessary when I joined in the exhibition business, the hard, relentless work I had to do to establish close relationships with clients and nurture them into trusted partnerships. After founding my own company, my previous experiences have provided invaluable client insight and now I enjoy working with a diverse typology of clients, helping them find the right business opportunities and make their brands known and valued around the world.

Are there any recurring pain points most SMEs struggle with when it comes to exhibitions?

Exhibiting at a show requires attention to many details and most SMEs feel anxious that things can go wrong, especially when they have to deal with the organizer and a number of contractors. Costs are another factor of anxiety, as SME’s budgets keep getting slashed down and prices are going up, they say. Sometimes, they are frustrated for not having control over their costs and think they are at the show’s mercy. We could also spend a few words about exhibitor’s manuals and the so many rules and regulations to abide by, or the concern about the position on the show floor and the fulfillment of objectives (ROI). Several companies complain about receiving little value or attention in return for the money they have paid.

Could you give us some tips to efficiently promote a booth on social media?

Social media provides the most effective means to prepare and promote your trade show presence well in advance. Together with company’s website and blog they are a great platform for giving a boost to the exhibition marketing. Check out if the trade show has a specific hashtag and, if so, start using it intensively on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+. Join and interact with relevant online groups, publish some articles of interest and invite community members to visit your booth. Company’s attendance with contact details should stand out on the website. Create impactful signage and imagery for your booth to attract interest and use online press releases and CTA to drive more traffic there. Blog about the event and your presence. Encourage your staff to connect with show attendees by using contests, giveaways and live demonstrations to draw interest and stimulate interaction.

From your experience, what is the difference between exhibiting locally and internationally?

I think that exhibiting abroad requires a different approach and a diverse marketing strategy. Once you are clear on your goals, you can tailor your product or service offering to the needs of the country where you are exhibiting. Some companies want to expand their business into new markets, some others simply show what they have to offer in the most important exhibitions around the world in order to better promote their brand and image.
Whatever the reason for exhibiting is, it is always advisable to not go alone and rely on an experienced partner instead. To be successful in international shows is not an easy task and it would be a mistake assuming that what works locally will work the same internationally. Different rules and regulations in every country, cultural differences, language barriers, are just a few key aspects to take into account when preparing your international trade show experience.

What aspects do you think exhibitors should consider when training their staff for trade shows?

Companies need to give directions to their staff about the reasons for attending a trade show, the goals and objectives they have. Also, they need to choose which department, other than sales and marketing, will be attending and let everyone know the purpose and task of each staff member attending the show. Booth staff should always be well informed about the products or services that will be exposed and highly focused on attendees. A few tips:

  • know ahead of time which prospects and customers will be attending
  • set up appointments with the ones who can’t be missed meeting with
  • be well informed about the competition
  • qualify leads and write down all the information acquired about the visitor and his/her needs soon after he/she has left the booth
  • follow-up immediately, if possible even before the end of the show.

Technology is becoming more and more present at trade shows – do you see it as a good thing?

Today is not enough to just be visible online. Clients need to see you physically somewhere else. Attending trade shows can help companies to generate leads from other areas of interest. Recent studies report that events are one of the largest areas of growth in media spending, just behind digital. It is not surprising, then, that the integration of digital and physical world together result in technology becoming more and more important and present at trade shows. Technology is now part of our daily lives and we cannot do without. It greatly serves the exhibition and event industry, as it represents a continuum of our relationships between the virtual and physical world.

What is your opinion about technologies like myfairtool that help capturing and managing trade show leads?

As I wrote before, technology is something unavoidable nowadays and we have to keep up-to-date with the latest trends and audience behaviors. Lead generation is certainly one of the key and most discussed topics when it comes to trade show participation and exhibitor’s desiderata. While I’m definitely favorable to the use of technology for generating and converting leads, I think we should be careful when we look for the right strategy and tools, as there is no single CRM platform that works for all business and industries. It is advisable to know which ones are the best to implement.

The Exhibitor’s prime focus is exhibitors ROI. Do you have any key recommendation to achieve that?

There is a lot that can be said about ROI. Although it’s difficult to translate all trade show benefits into dollars or euros, it is important to evaluate the results of the participation at a trade show in as many measurable ways as possible.
However, if I am allowed to say, the exhibition industry has not been very good at educating exhibitors on how to maximize ROI out of events. It is also true that several companies fail miserably when they attend trade shows, because they have no idea what their expectations and goals are. Things are changing in recent years, as companies take their participation more seriously and get more focused on ROI.

Some key tips to take away:

  • select the right event
  • set clear and measurable goals
  • prepare your trade show marketing strategy far before the show starts
  • qualify your leads
  • take advantage of all available technology
  • make your stand construction noticeable
  • staff your booth properly
  • interact with attendees and drive engagement during the show
  • do the follow up immediately after the show.

Any additional tips for our readers?

The event and exhibition industry is continuously evolving and new business models are emerging. Similarly to what is happening in other industries, innovative and disruptive concepts are becoming the new normal in events and trade shows and we, as industry professionals, must keep up-to-date and be prepared to adapt ourselves to the inevitable changes that I’m sure will be beneficial to organizers and visitors and exhibitors alike.

Marco Barozzi Marco Barozzi is an entrepreneur, founder and Managing Director of Expo Consulting, a company servicing the exhibition and conference industry located in Bologna, Italy. Prior to “Expo Consulting”, he spent many years at key positions in prestigious trade show organizations. He is also Consultant, Advisor and Business Developer to events organizations, trade associations and private companies, committed to being the real partner for businesses willing to enter and/or expand on international markets.
Meet the Experts – Event Consulting with Marco Barozzi
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