“Handshakes have given way to fist bumps, and sanitizers have found residence with the humble pen in every pocket. And while the masks remain, the eyes still smile. On-ground events are back with a bang!”
After almost 24 months of the world living in sealed pockets, we are now back to stadium cheers with fries and beers! Not only have sport and game opened their doors to crowds, but trade shows and expos have also allowed for a resurgence of businesses too. From the US Open that saw a new champion to Expo 2020 that’s bringing all the world to Dubai; from league football that reminded the world to choose water over carbonated drinks to stampedes at concerts - events and celebrations are back to stay.
A lull in socializing and outdoor life has caused a boom in on-ground events. Excitement levels are through the roof! This is an excellent chance for you to ride the wave, make the most of this renewed vigor and grow your business.
As we move towards a post-pandemic world, let’s talk numbers (of a happier kind). More engagement means more conversion. This guide will tell you how to ace that. But, beginning with the end in mind helps you prepare your plan of action with a much higher probability of success.
There is bound to be a fall in numbers between attraction and conversion. On average, a 3-5% conversion rate is what one can expect. This means, if you reach out to 100 people with your event, you’d be left with 4-5 convertees. On the other hand, unicorns have a conversion rate of 11.45% on average. Those are the levels you want to touch. To do that, you need to seal each stage of your event funnel to hold on to as many leads as you can. This guide will help you work your way through on-ground events and maximize your ROI by doing just that.
On ground events can be one of two kinds:
- A stall/slot at trade shows, exhibitions, summits, conferences, fairs, etc.
- An exclusive event that you conduct
Whether you choose this or that, there are five stages you need to go through for a successful event and increased conversion rates. We’ll walk you through those right here.
Stage One: Plan
Begin your planning with the end in mind. Fix a date for your event, or book one and start planning backward. This will allow enough time for all preparations. The best approach to planning is to visualize the event from the guest’s perspective.
Trade shows, Exhibitions, Summits, Conferences, Fairs
Presented below are some resources for you to ace the planning stage of on-ground events.
1. Directory for renowned events across the globe -
Eventseye is a great resource to look for trade shows happening around the world in any industry. Here are a few trade shows to look forward to in 2022:
25-29 May 2022
Printing - Editing - Graphic Design
Fashion - Textile
Healthcare & Pharma
Austin, Texas, USA
2. Best Practices-
- Ask questions and use answers to these questions to shortlist the trade shows or on-ground events you want to take part in:
- Which industry or industries do you usually sell to?
- What’s the company size of your best customers?
- Does your customer base include large enterprise, mid-market, or startup/small business?
- Does your service pair especially well with other technologies?
- Does the on-ground event audience match with your target audience?
- The world is small. Seek experience from people who have already participated in such events. You are sure to get help in making the right decisions based on expected expenses, tips to make the most from the event, a good location to have the event at, and much more.
- Prepare brochures, contact cards, some branded accessories, etc. in advance.
- Plan attraction and engagement strategies in advance:
- Engage local social media influencers in advance to spread the word about your booth. You may wish to provide special treatment to visitors recommended by influencers regarding discounts or gifts.
- Prepare for activities that create a buzz around the show to increase footfall at your booth.
- Buy reward coupons in advance to increase engagement for visitors
- Think of a special offer for visitors to give them a reason to come back to you after the trade show.
- Budgeting - There are often hidden costs associated with participating in such events that fail to make it to your budget, and it’s easy to overshoot. Here’s a non-exhaustive list you must keep in mind:
- Airline transaction fees
- Credit card and processing fee
- Office supplies and shipping charges
- On location transportation
- Parking tickets for VIP guests
- Promotion costs
- When you’re looking to present at an international event, one that is set up in the context of another culture, be mindful of the customs, traditions, and protocols of the places you’re visiting. Work on being fluent in the culture and habits of the people.
The fun in creating your event lies in the field of play available to you. You can stick to a regular format event where you have lunch or tea with some entertainment and sell your services. Or you can choose to get creative and run campaigns that are events in themselves or events that are fiestas! Oh, don’t worry; we’ve got some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Creative ideas for on-ground events
Incorporating rewards into your events is a great way to increase participation and possibly conversion. When budgeting for an event that is exclusively yours, you’re not bound to use the allocated budget in a particular manner. For instance, you can choose to run an event that lasts more than just an evening, like eBay’s luxury handbag vending machine.
Nothing shows that you care as personalized gifting does. How about curating personalized gifts for your list of attendees in an invite-only event? Having your customers bring in a plus one to an event and sending them back with a thoughtful, personalized present will make them feel special and make their plus one want to be a part of this exclusive club.
When thinking of fun events, we couldn’t miss telling you about the Amex Gold Card Picnic in the Park. With a curated menu and exclusive access to a luxury picnic in a park, complete with favors and goodies, this campaign sounds like such a hit! Oh, and bonus points to them for collaborating with businesses for food and goodies.
Best practices to plan your event
- Experiment and have fun when coming up with ideas for your events. Remember, the point of an event is to sell. And people are more receptive to buying when they are having fun. So a fun event will mean increased sales.
- Have dedicated teams for dedicated tasks. Assign roles and have people stick to them and see tasks through.
- Planning must be extensive. If you have checklists at every stage of planning an event, it’s unlikely that something will pass you by. We’ve got some for you that you can use as a starting point.
- Budgeting - The event’s purpose and budget will dictate its final format. So understanding the why will help find a way to the how. To do that, you as the marketing team must sit down with the sales team. Set out your event goals and then work the budget.
Here are some considerations you must account for in your budget:
- ✈️ Travel and Accommodation
- 🍔 Food
- 💵 Staff Compensation
- 🏦 Facility Expenses
- ⚙️ Logistics
- 📢 Marketing and PR
Stage Two: Promote
Trade shows, Exhibitions, Summits, Conferences, Fairs
When you rent out a stall in events organized by others, you can cut down on your marketing budget. The event organizer is going to do its bit to publicize the event, and this in itself will generate a decent amount of footfall for you. So here, you must shift your focus to promoting your event to a targeted audience to maximize conversions. To do this, grab sponsorship and advertising opportunities that organizers may provide.
- Reach out to your existing customers through social media and emails. If you have a newsletter, run the event as an exclusive for subscribers. For example, Charles & Keith, Singapore, conducted an exclusive event at their store with a local celebrity artist to launch a collaborative collection. Why would a customer want to miss out on being part of an all-exclusive event?
- Encourage your existing customers to bring people along. Incentivize every interested attendee they bring along with a discount coupon or a special offer.
- Get creative with how you use social media. Engage with your audience in every way possible. For example, create a catchy hashtag on social media and run an online giveaway encouraging people to use the hashtag and share details of the event. Encourage participants to post content using the event hashtag by running a reward campaign around it.
Multi-channel marketing is your best friend when you’re promoting your event. Use a bunch of marketing channels to spread the word about your event. Here are some ideas for you to draw inspiration from:
1. Have a website? Create a landing page dedicated specifically to the event, drive traffic to it through:
- pay-per-click campaigns,
- social media,
- a hello bar on the website
An exclusive event page shall be an excellent way to deliver event details. Using it well - having a fun UI, engaging the audience, giving them a taste of the event, why they should be there, what they can learn, and win - can skyrocket your events’ attendance.
Pro tip: Capture leads through your landing page by offering exclusive rewards and offers.
2. Use emails as one more effective channel:
- Send out a fun email with a catchy subject line
- Add in event details - location, time, other logistic details
- Allow your readers to add the event to their calendars with a CTA button
When you send out emails, the tone must be conversational. Talk TO people instead of talking AT them. No one wants to read another email that sounds like it’s come from work. Make the emails you send out fun, warm, and friendly. Not only is the likelihood of them being read through higher, but they also have a higher recall value.
3.Use listing websites:
- There are some great event calendar websites available. Check out Eventbrite. Look to have your event listed there.
- Use local guide sites to have events listed. Sites like Yelp could give you great reach.
- Use Facebook Events and LinkedIn Events to list.
Use Rewards To Attract More Attendees to Your Events
- Announce that every attendee who brings a plus one who converts will get a special discount or offer on your services. So make it a good one!
- Encourage attendance in groups if it’s an event that is not planned around food (else you’ll only be increasing your costs), and maybe you can have a giveaway around the best-dressed group in theme at the event
- Have a high ticket raffle and a luxury product for the winner
- Announce an open mic at your event and encourage participation with a prize for the winner
- Have small contests with not too expensive but thoughtful giveaways - like tongue-twisters or the attendee who creates a catchy tag line for your business or the attendee carrying an outdated currency note. These little things will have your attendees leave feeling excited, and these will be more likely to have a continued association with you
- Offer specials for liking your social media pages or spreading a word about your product on social media
Stage Three: Engage
To keep your audience engaged, focus on creating an experience for the participant, which then, in turn, evokes an emotion or reaction that is memorable for them. This emotion and memory become an association with your brand, a feel-good factor that increases the chances of a user becoming a loyal customer. 70% of users become regular customers after an event that gave them an experience.
Whether you’re part of a trade show or are hosting your event, the things in your D-Day checklist will look pretty much the same. Here’s a starter for you
The final checklist
- Confirm 📰 media attendance
- Ensure all 🪧 signage is in place — wherever needed, and that it’s visible and not hidden by other signage or obstacles
- Ensure registration and media tables are prepared and stocked with necessary items 🖋 📝 ✏️(such as blank name badges, paper, pens, tape, stapler, etc.)
- Ensure that there’s enough 🍔 🍱 food and 💦 water for you and your team. You need to be well fed and well hydrated to last the day!
- Ensure all 🎁 rewards, giveaways, promotional material, etc. are in good shape and on-site
- Ensure all your 💻 tech equipment is set up and working correctly. If you’re carrying 💡 lights for your booth, check them to ensure they’re all bright and sparkly
- Ensure everyone on the floor is healthy, fully equipped for the day, and has clear instructions and directions for the day. In case you’re expecting VIP as guests, have someone assigned explicitly with their phone numbers, 🔑 keys, 🅿️ extra parking permits, and seating charts for them
- Check-in with your 👩🏻💻 team heads to ensure that everything is on track
- Check-in with 🧑🍳 catering and any 💰 sponsor teams that are attending
Trade shows, Exhibitions, Summits, Conferences, Fairs
In a trade show, you are one stall in many. You need to find a way to stand out and shine. What can you do to make your booth be the one everyone wants to come to? Here are some actionable tips:
- Use the attendees at the event to publicize you. Have brightly colored cloth bags made with your business name and logo and give them out. You know everyone’s going to have goodies being given out. How are your attendees going to carry them around? This is not only thoughtful but smart too!
- Set up an old-school game at your stall. Something big and bright. Maybe a wheel of fortune?
- Collaborate with other vendors at the fair and work out a mutually beneficial arrangement where you direct attendees to each other’s booths.
- Have a caricature artist come in or a lettering artist who can personalize favors you may be handing out at your booth.
The objective of an event is to book a meeting or a demo. Every conversation you have should take you a step closer to that goal. Your event strategy may change whether you’re walking the floor or have a booth, but the goal is the same.
- Move around and motivate attendees to visit your booth or book a meeting. When planning your event, set a concrete goal of a certain number of attendees to engage or a target number of warm leads to generate and stay focused on meeting it. If you do have the option of walking the room, ensure that you know of the layout of the room beforehand so you can make the most of it.
- Ensure that whoever is staffing the booth has a list of your prioritized accounts and your target audience. Check to see if people approaching your booth are from companies on your list. If someone ticks off all boxes on your target audience checklist, establish an instant connection and fix a meeting on the spot.
The goal at an on-ground event is to get as much traffic to your booth as possible. The higher your footfall, the higher the chance of conversions. Footfall converts cold leads to warm leads. Rewards and giveaways can help you make those leads warmer.
Memories and how you leave people feeling are things your guests will carry back with them, whether or not anything else goes home. So creating an event that is exclusively yours gives you the advantage of being able to do what you want with it and create memorable experiences for your guests.
Use Rewards to Maximize Engagement at Your Event
Anything worth doing is worth doing well. So the best rewards are those that tie into your message and serve a purpose. And of course, when they are things people WANT.
Actions Users can Take for Rewards
Here are some ideas to get you thinking on how to encourage participation by offering rewards
- Social Media Posts: Get attendees to promote your sales by using your event hashtag on a social media post while at your booth. Reward them in exchange for their post.
- Newsletter Sign Up: Have attendees sign up for your newsletter at your booth. All you need is a mobile device with an internet connection.
- Sign up for a Product Demo: Reward anyone who signs up for a product demo with you.
Pro Tip: Tie in rewards customers have to come back to you with through these sales promotions. This can be anything from a discount coupon on a future sale, a gift certificate, or maybe even a more significant budget gift for those clients who sign up for your services on the spot!
Choice of Rewards
Picking the right gift won’t only increase your chances of being remembered by your attendees, they’ll also attract a lot more traffic to your booth. Here are a couple of considerations you can use to help you figure out how to pick the right gift
1. Your target demographic
You’ve already done your groundwork and understood your target audience. Now think about what they’d like. Also, look at where your event is happening. For example, is it a rainy city where your attendees could use an umbrella? How about a nicely branded bag that attendees can collect all their freebies from the event and carry home with them?
2. Your Receiver’s Persona
Once you’ve figured out your target demographic, use it to understand your receiver’s persona. Giving out rewards that are persona-specific is a great way to increase the chances of a returning customer. It also becomes more likely for the giftee to claim and use the reward.
3. Get Creative - Reward with an Experience to Remember
Transporting physical gifts to events is an additional cost. You could consider avoiding giving out physical gifts and look at creating fun giveaways instead - a meal at a fancy restaurant, a guided tour of a city that the conference is in, a voucher from a store that’s redeemable.
4. Changing Reward Trends: Don’t miss the bus!
Gifts like trends are constantly changing. USB drives were fantastic half a decade ago. Not so much anymore. I remember going to an event where I came back with a stress ball from a booth. It was light and fun but didn’t make it back home. So what works and what doesn’t? Xoxoday’s reward catalog is ever-evolving with the trendiest rewards with 21000+ global rewards, including countries like the USA, Australia, Singapore, India, Qatar, Japan, and so many more already listed.
Park My Rewards | Case Study
Integration has become a business need today. GetMyParking approached Xoxoday to help with their rewards. Rewards were based on surveys conducted to understand their market (North America). These physical surveys needed to be automated to increase responses.
Xoxoday helped by integrating a rewards program into a platform they already used and sending out person-specific incentives instead of generic rewards to every person who completed the survey. Personalization shows you care, and this is a real-life example. Want more details? Check out the case study here.
Pro Tip: Make sure to collect the email addresses of visitors so you can go from nurturing them and ultimately converting.
Stage Four: Nurture
It’s great if you could convert some customers on the spot at the event. Even if you don’t manage to, it’s alright! Do not underestimate the ones that engaged but didn’t buy. Maybe they need a little bit of a nudge, and the right nurturing can take your association a long way.
Social media today is the loudest way to nurture leads. Use it to your advantage. Have a social media account that is active, interactive, and updated. (Remember, we suggested that you reward people for following your social media pages?)
If you already have a nurturing email sequence in place, nothing like it. Else you can draw inspiration from EmailMastery. Emails are also a great way to push your content to leads and progress them to buying decisions.
Whether you are a participant at a trade fair or running an event of your own, nurturing through emails is the best way to boost your leads. Here is a sequence for nurturing through emails you can follow:
How you time the sending of your emails is super important as well. Bombarding your client with five emails in 24 hours, for example, will make it seem like you’re trying too hard, almost spamming. So timing is everything.
Incentivize Leads with Rewards in Your Nurturing Sequence
Sending out free resources in your emails is a great way to make someone feel like they’re getting an additional freebie along with being a part of an exclusive members club. This process will begin with having a lead submit their email address to you in exchange for a freebie. And that becomes the point you start your nurturing from.
Use a mix of text and emojis in your email subject lines to make them pop in the receiver’s inbox. Use a hook to create interest that forces the receiver into looking inside the email. Here are some smashing subject lines we found that you can draw inspiration from:
- 🥳 Figgers Wireless: " BIGGEST SALE OF THE YEAR! 50% OFF EVERYTHING!”
- Apartment Therapy: “Why You Should Keep Your Clothes in the Freezer.”
- Dollar Shave Club: “Open up and say wowie zowie!”
- Brooks Brothers: “Up to 40% off trousers & sport coats. It’s a tailor-made sale.”
- Rakuten: “🌹Will you accept this Double Cash Back?”
- Groupon: “Hey... Were You Gonna Delete This?”
- 🔥 Hot freebie alert! 15 free gifts, you pick 5.
- 👗 Free (Cool!) Clothes Alert 👖
- We Saw You Checking Us Out 😏
- 1,750 points for you. Valentine's flowers & more for them
Pro Tip: Trigger buying decisions for leads through rewards, special offers, credits, etc. in your email nurturing sequence
Stage Five: Convert
Adding value to an event is the first step in the right direction towards conversions. Continuing to add value through nurturing emails takes you closer to gaining the next customer in line. An effectively built sales funnel that’s sealed will help you with maximizing warm leads to customers.
- Always follow up 🏃🏻
- It doesn’t 🔚 at the event. You need to remind your leads that you are available to provide services.
- Make special notes of the leads that were warm at the event. Follow up with a 📞 phone call, if you can
- Respond in a ⏰ timely manner
- If you’ve promised someone something at the event, 📨 send it across to them quickly – whether it’s a brochure, a quote for your services or any other commitment you made
- When emails you send out are responded to, reply to them in 🏪 24 hours of receiving them
- Optimize your 👩🏻💻 web experience
- Provide☝🏼one click sign up and sign in options
- 🛠 Update your website regularly
- Ensure your website is 😌 easy to navigate
- Make sure the UI is 🥳 fun and friendly
- Minimize form fields that users need to 📝 fill
- Simplify your 🛒 check out and payment process
- Use 📣 social media
- Connect 🤝 with those who are engaging with social media posts
- Be active in the 💬 comments section - choose to reply to comments, especially those, if any that show your service in poor light
- 💲Invest in a CRM tool
Sum and Summation
When planning an event, don’t be afraid to think out of the box, implement ideas that sound crazy, or run wacky campaigns to create awareness. In a world where you need to be noticed, never be afraid to do what it takes.
Here’s summing up key takeaways, tips, and tricks from what we’ve shared above:
- Use the time before the event to create a buzz. Remind your audience of your existence. Send fun emails, run social media campaigns. Use a hashtag across all social media.
- At an event, sell your brand, your story. Sales of your product or service will follow automatically.
- Create a human connection. Don’t be afraid to step out from behind the counter or outside your booth. The goal is to establish a connection, strike up a conversation and leave the attendee with a little more than what (s)he walked in with.
- Work hard on creating and distributing quality content through your emails and other marketing techniques. The more value you add, the better your chances of conversion.
- Rewards are an almost sure-shot way of retention. Giving out rewards that speak to your audience will make them feel like you care about them. So think long and hard about what you want to give away.
- The rewards you choose to distribute must be in sync with the message your business stands for. Give rewards to be remembered, not junked. Here are some ideas around rewards in the festive season. If you like what you see, you can book a demo with us right now!