Event imageEvent Marketing. Every day somewhere in this great world we live in, there are events for every industry, interest groups, products, buyers, fashion – you name it. In the business I am in as a Legal Nurse Consultant, it is incumbent on me to try to “be where my clients are”. However, this year seems to have been fraught with missed expectations, so here’s some “from the battlefield” feedback.

The Good:

  1. Legal Industry Trade shows or Bar Association events gives me an opportunity to meet not only new potential clients, but possibly form partnerships with other vendors. Sometimes, it is the luck of where your booth lands, sometimes you do a little stroll around and say hello to folks doing email while waiting for sessions to be over. It’s also a good opportunity to see what the competition (if they are there) has up its sleeve, and how you might be preparing to respond to a possible threat.
  2. Getting out in front of people and acting like the proverbial carnival barker takes a lot of people out of their comfort zone. It’s not easy to face rejection when you smile and say “Hi. My name is Shaun. Can I ask you ONE question? What type of law do you practice?” You would think that everyone who is at an event like this would just love to brag to you about their successful practice? DING! Wrong. They just keep walking. So you have to take a deep breath, wait for the next contestant and try again. If you can get a business card in exchange for a whitepaper or a piece of chocolate or a bottle of water – sweet. Just don’t expect that person to remember you when you call back, unless that was the most delicious piece of chocolate they ever had.
  3. Practice – We spend a lot of time building presentations, but often don’t get the time to practice. Events are a great place to make notes on what slides made them look closer, and which ones made them yawn. Try to keep track of other things related to your presentation. Was it readable on the displace from 6 feet away or did you have to get right up close? Does it have your name, website URL and phone number on EVERY page? Is there an offer they can take advantage of by being there today? Those are all the valid reasons to be active in events.

The Bad:

  1. Plan for problems and get ahead of them by having a checklist of things that you need to bring with you before, during and after the event. If you are giving something away, make sure it looks pleasing and fresh. If you have a computer that’s 2 years old, bring along a copy of the presentation on a thumb drive in PDF format, just in case your harddrive decides to crash, or someone spills something on the keyboard or any other crisis possibilities. Personally, I bring my iPad with an adapter for a computer screen, just in case. I have a checklist I am happy to share if you send me an email. It may not fit you perfectly but it’s the little things that always get you (like power cords, mouse pads, scissors, tape, UPS Mailing labels, etc.).
  2. This isn’t going to be cheap. Between the cost of the event fees, the cost of a banner (if you don’t have an up to date one) the giveaways, tablecloths, fees for electricity at your booth, etc., etc., etc. And the cost of travel (even if it’s local it’s going to cost SOMETHING to ship or CARRY things back and forth, and of course most of the events are managed through the hotel which means that they have contracts with who can and cannot move things. Don’t mess with those guys. I was moving a pedestal and suddenly a large gentleman with Teamsters Union jacket said, “Are you a union member?”, “I humbly replied no.”, and he said “Then I strongly recommend you stop doing our job.” I mumbled something like “I’m sorry” and moon-walked my way out of there quickly. There are also the added costs of hotel rooms, meals, transportation from the hotel to the venue, tips for everybody, and in the end, it cost a lot more than you thought. My advice here is to try to partner with someone who could enhance your presence, without competing. That’s why I recommend making the rounds to find and make new friends. It also gives you booth coverage if you have to take a call, use a restroom, or just need to step out of your heels.
  3. Set your expectations low, but your spirits and enthusiasm high. AND before the event, start reminding people by using the event’s hashtag that you will be there, what your booth number is, why they should stop by, and have fun with it. I sent out a Facebook reminder with a picture of Sir Paul McCartney, and proudly announced that “Sir Paul will not be there. BUT I WILL. So take this opportunity to have a meaningful intro while we are both in the same place.”

The Ugly

  1. Make sure everything in the contract is exactly what you are expecting. I found out 3 days before a recent event that the booth I was promised went to someone else, and no one even told me. I was a little more than annoyed.
  2. Don’t believe the attendance estimates. Honestly there may be some events where this has merit, but just because 1000 people are pre-registered doesn’t mean they are going to spend any time in the vendor area. Press the organizer HARD for details. When are the breaks when I can expect booth traffic? What are YOU doing to drive booth traffic? The event is 3 days, but the meetings (and CLE credit sessions) are all on day one. Then day two looks like the place is closed for business. It is YOUR responsibility (and your marketing person if you have one) to review all the contracts before your sign them. So if you get bumped, you at least have a leg to stand on.
  3. There is always one vendor who has the coolest give-away, game, raffle, whatever. Don’t play this silly game. You can waste an awful lot of money buying “premium items” aka “swag” aka chach-kees. Some folks feel that there is an implied “quid-pro-quo”. I gave them a nice toy to bring home to the kiddies, they should spend some time with me. WRONG. You’ll get the same response with a bag of M&Ms or some COLD bottled spring water.

I would like to hear your feedback. What ideas have you come up with to make these events worth your hard-earned time, money and effort? Have you segmented your target market to make sure that these are the RIGHT people to talk to? Any tips or techniques that you use to help pull them into the booth. I know everyone would love to hear some so please do reply.

Visit me at www.splegalnurse.com or call for a chat at 517-256-5011