At every trade show you have two audiences – your attendees and your exhibitors. Your event’s educational programming has an impact on both, so it’s important to get it right.
From recreational to business-focused events, attendees come to learn. Since they have many choices for gaining knowledge – trade publications, websites, blogs, eLearning – your educational offering must stand out in order to bring them through the doors. And, bringing in engaged attendees helps you attract exhibitors.
In order to attract both attendees (especially early bird registrants), you need to be able to offer a glimpse into the value offered by your show’s educational component.
It’s not about what you want to tell them. It’s about what they want to hear.
In addition to reading industry publications, websites and blogs, and following thought leaders on social media, you can tap into your past attendees to find out what’s on their minds, then find speakers who can address those topics. As UFI’s community manager, Barry Siskind Siskind shares about finding the right educational mix, “Attendees want the organizer to develop programs that answer the challenges they are currently facing.” Consider sending out a survey to find out what’s on the mind of your potential attendees. If your show is a recurring one, conduct a quick online survey with your past participants. If it’s your inaugural year, consider buying a list or posting a link to an online survey in social media groups that speak to your target attendee.
It’s also about how you say it.
Knowing your audience’s demographics will help you create a media mix that supports your educational programming. Are they tech savvy young professionals, tried and true traditional media consumers, or a mix of both?
A website that shares event details, links to blogs and social media feeds, session descriptions and presenter bios is a must have in today’s market. Something to keep in mind is the ability for your site to be viewed on multiple devices. Websites using responsive design scale to fit any screen, eliminating the need to create one site for PCs and another for mobile devices – so any updates only have to be made once, reducing the potential for errors.
According to Pew Research 58% of American adults have a smartphone and 42% have a tablet. That’s a large enough percentage to consider the creation of an engaging, interactive mobile solution that allows guests to plan their schedule, network with attendees, and set appointments with exhibitors. Mobile platforms also allow you – or your exhibitors and sponsors – to send messages directly to attendees in real time. You can also offer banner ads to exhibitors and sponsors, giving them an additional touch point for reaching prospects.
Providing valuable educational content in ways that best reach your target audience is important for attracting attendees, and those high quality prospects is what helps you attract exhibitors. Take the time to find out what’s important to your audience, and offer it up through a media mix that makes sense to achieve greater event success.
You can learn more tips for event success in our free ebook: 14 Ways to Keep Events Live 365. Download it today. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Connect on LinkedIn or Twitter, and don't hesitate to email me.