This is a slightly different article from the usual opinion and educational pieces I write. The first half of this week was spent in London Olympia at Recruitment Agency Expo, and I’m not going to lie… two days later and I’m still cream-crackered. My brain is slow, my feet are still throbbing, and I’m 100% convinced that it’s not just me that’s feeling that way! This event is one of those ‘not to be missed’ in the event calendar because of the opportunities it brings, but on this occasion, we had such a fantastic experience, I do not want to forget it!
It seems we’re back in the world of face to face events, and I am pretty excited about it all. I love the offline world, but social media, email marketing, content creation… you can take it to another level when you bring the offline and online worlds together successfully, and I think that’s one of the things we managed to do this week with resounding success!
We took every opportunity to stand out – online and in person
Branding is EVERYTHING! From the stand itself to what we were wearing, we ensured we stood out. There were some incredible installations across the show, but you don’t need to be big-budget to gain attention. Colour, positioning, friendly faces. They’re the key components to a well-attended stand.
I have to admit, when we arrived, we made some last-minute adjustments and additions to our plans. With everything set up on the stand, what else could we do to stand out and draw attention? HELIUM BALLOONS! I will never forget the sight of Tayler, who is currently working with us as an intern, walking into the exhibition hall carrying 20 brightly coloured helium balloons.
Event Experience Is essential For Success
Usually, I’d be talking about how to bring attendees a positive event experience. But it’s also true for the people representing your business! The GU team travelled together the day before the event, set up together and then went for a quiet dinner that was just us. This wasn’t to make a game plan for the days ahead, it was to ensure we all had a relaxing evening hanging out so we could start the next day well-rested. We could have invited our peers and started the networking there and then, but having some ‘downtime’ before we began meant that we were all aligned and ready for a great show.
Obviously, it goes without saying that people coming to your stand should have a positive experience, but what about you going out to see other businesses to forge relationships? Doing a walk around so people can see you? I love that we have such fantastic relationships with other vendors in the recruitment industry. We’re respectful of each other’s brand and understand where our fun levels are! This makes for brilliant content activities that can be used on social media! Picture early afternoon on day two, George (our 5ft inflatable Giraffe) was doing the rounds checking out the latest tech! It’s a bit of fun, but it allowed us to be seen by our peers as well as our prospects!
Use your voice! – Speak at Events!
I often make comments like ‘if you want to open an envelope, I’ll be there, and I’ll say something!’.
If there is an opportunity for you to speak and deliver a seminar, be part of a panel at an event – take it! I often end up in conversation when I hear words like ‘it’s ok for you, but no one wants to hear about <insert what they do here>.’ I literally had this conversation with a good friend at the event. I asked him what a good client looked like for him, as he explained, he mentioned a keyword – Growth. Brilliant, he cares about their growth, they care about their growth – so all he needs to do is put something together around that topic and add in some examples from what he’s seen amongst his client base! I honestly think that anyone can find a topic to speak on that will serve their audience and allow to gain interest in their services from that audience.
And, if you think you won’t get chosen to present because you’re unknown, most events are looking for new names and fresh faces, so they don’t get stuck with a stale line-up or get accused of favouritism.
Are you Following Up?
You have no idea how often I ask that question! One of the great things I love about events like this is it doesn’t begin when the doors open (you should be promoting your attendance well in advance of that), and it doesn’t finish when the doors close! The true success of this event will be in the leads we’ve acquired (which are a little overwhelming, if I’m honest!) and our ability to close them. Let’s be honest, we attended this event with a purpose – not just to have a jolly!
Here’s what following up looks like for us!
- Prior to the event, I knew what I was presenting, my slides were ready, and I knew what we’d be promoting on the stand. So, we prepared a landing page ready to collect data from anyone who might want a copy of our slides and resources. Completion of this triggers a short series of emails delivering relevant information.
- We’ll keep our new contacts up to date with us via our weekly news roundup – that way, they can stay in touch with us until a time they feel they need us. Here’s the thing with events, ROI needs to be measured long-term. It’s not necessarily about immediate sales; it costs to acquire a database, so I put a monetary value on every record in our email list too.
- LinkedIn – here we come! We’ll be sending connection requests to these people too, and while we’re noseying at their profiles, engaging with any relevant posts they may have shared from the event.
- For those we had more in-depth conversations with, we’ll likely pop something useful in the post for them; creating touchpoints across a variety of media can really help move people through the various stages of your marketing and sales funnel!
- We’ll call anyone we had meaningful conversation with and get a call booked in where they’ll get our full attention without the distractions of everything else around the show!
There’s more of course, but those five items are things you can model whether you’re involved in an in-person or online event.
Don’t forget THE DEBRIEF
The debrief is not the conversation you have on the stand when you’re packing up! It’s also not the conversation you have in the pub at Euston train station while you’re waiting for the train home! It’s a few days later, after you’ve started to get through your follow up activities and started to see a response. We’ll do ours next week and cover off the following:
- We’ll decide how valuable the show was, and whether or not we see value in doing it again.
- What changes we want and/or need to make to the stand.
- We’ll discuss our event budget – is there further opportunity if we increase it?
- We’ll reflect on what made things tricky, and what was a breeze? What else was at that show that gave you inspiration?
- Resource – this is an important conversation. Were there enough of us? Too many or too few?
- What have we learnt from this event that we need to take forward to future events?
This won’t just be a casual conversation, this is something that gets documented and revisited at each event we engage in. Think of it as becoming another part of your processes and procedures.
Be realistic about ROI
I hinted at this already, there is no point expecting an immediate return after investing in an event. We need to be realistic about the return on investment. The hot, hot leads we gained were partly the excitement of the moment and the environment! From both the prospects and us! Some will convert in days or weeks, some may take months or years even! They will convert, though, as long as we keep maintaining those touchpoints, popping up in feeds, dropping regular email communication and attending these events.