Exhibiting at a congress is often your best chance to connect with potential customers, face-to-face. But if someone meets one of your reps at a congress, chances are they’ve also spoken to dozens of other exhibitors, who are all pitching their own products and organisations. So how can you make yourself stand out in the crowd, and set yourself apart from the competition?
Why organisations exhibit at congresses
Every organisation will have its own motivations for exhibiting at congresses and trade shows, but essentially there are three main reasons:
- Product launches – congresses are a fantastic place to generate some buzz around a new product, and get it in front of an interested audience.
- Relationship building – for the biggest congresses, all the big names in the industry will be there. Competitors, colleagues, and customers all in one place. Which makes it the perfect place to network and nurture existing relationships.
- Lead generation – probably the most common, and most important, reason for exhibiting is for organisations to meet with potential new customers, and generate new business opportunities.
These three reasons all contribute to one overall goal: brand awareness. Exhibiting at a congress helps keep your organisation top-of-mind for potential customers.
Most exhibitors take the same approach to trade shows or congresses. They invest all their time and energy into planning the at-event experience: everything from their stand design, the products they’re showcasing, and any talks, presentations and demos that they’ll be running during the event.
What this means is that congress visitors are swept up in a sea of eye-catching stands, innovative products and engaging speakers. Every exhibitor is showcasing the very best of what they offer; everything is shiny and new. At the congress itself, there’s not a lot to differentiate you from your closest competitors.
How to get ahead of the competition: look beyond the congress
If you’re exhibiting at a congress or trade show, most organisations take the same approach. But if you want to stand out from the competition, you want to stand out, not blend in.
Remember: the event is just the beginning of your relationship with that potential customer. So when you’re planning a congress, it’s essential that you consider what comes next. Most exhibitors spend all their time thinking about their few days at the congress, and no time investing in the follow-up.
For most exhibitors, follow-up after an event can take days, or even weeks. Why does it take so long?
For the most part, the delay comes down to inefficiencies in traditional lead capture processes. Organisations who use paper-based lead capture (such as filling out forms, or collecting and scanning business cards) need to wait for someone to type up those leads. And companies who hire badge scanners are at the mercy of the event organiser, waiting for them to send through your spreadsheet of contact details. This could take anything from a couple of days to over a week.
Changing your event lead capture process, and choosing a solution that can help you follow-up faster, can really set you apart from your competitors.