I’ve had the good fortune of working with or attending a number of shows in the pop culture space, both trade and consumer. These shows have no issue building attendance or creating buzz. While the focus of the shows may vary, they share some characteristics that could help almost any exhibition.
1. Fans: Your show may not have fans that dress up like their favorite Star Wars or Japanese animation characters, but you still need fans. Take steps to cultivate fans you already have. They might be dedicated members, exhibitors or board members…anyone who helps to spread the word about your event in a positive way.
2. Buzz: Granted, the latest medical device might not have the same broad appeal as the newest game console or video title release, but are you taking advantage of all the opportunities to create excitement about the newest, latest, greatest whatever?
Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2011
3. Social Media: Are you helping your exhibitors get out the word about their new products or services? The days of crafting standard press releases alone are gone. Do you have an exhibitor blog? An event invite sent from your Facebook page? Are you helping your members Tweet? Is your show a year-round event because of its online presence?
4. Communities: Pop culture events have on-line communities who connect throughout the year because of common interests, game play, and contests, which create more interest in the face-to-face meeting. Can you connect members to members, exhibitors to attendees, speakers to audiences in advance of your event? Are you using networking tools, agenda builders and other virtual introductions? Are you monitoring the “chatter” to measure interests and create your program?
5. “Out of the Hall” thinking: These events are really experiences from the time their audiences arrive at the facility (sometimes it even starts at the airport). Ambience, messaging, sponsored parties, lighting, props, all contribute to the feeling that this is more than a trade show. Granted, it is a little tougher to apply some of these elements to a government or defense contracting show, but there are transferrable ideas.
6. Show-site Technologies: Mobile apps, touch-screen locators, electronic signs, and graphics all offer ways to drive interest and attendance at daily events, featured booths, product rollouts and press announcements. You don’t want to have attendee “zombies” wandering the convention center aimlessly.
Exhibitions are serious business, but they are also about sharing common interests, connecting in new ways, and even having fun. Bob Dallmeyer, CEO of the consulting firm RD International, in his interview as the 2011 Krakoff Future Leader Institute “Industry Legend,” says that each event must have a unique culture, and that you must be passionate about that culture.
Use these six tips to define and share the unique aspects of your event, and inspire passion in your followers. Make your event pop!
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