Putting your business on show is a great way of getting noticed. Trade exhibitions are an ideal stage to achieve this, as I wrote last time. There are also plenty of opportunities for a business to create its own events. This leads to greater engagement with customers and stakeholders, and generates a buzz that is unique to your brand.
Choosing an event that will meet your business objectives is key. Here are some of the ways that you can show your brand to its best advantage.
An obvious choice for builders’ merchants is to host a special event in a branch. This could take the form of having a discount day with in-store offers to anybody who comes in, or trade counter deals on specific brands or product lines.
An alternative use of an in-branch open day is to give advice to customers. Ask suppliers to send experts to give demonstrations and provide ‘hints and tips’ on how to get the best out of a product.
For suppliers, it’s vital to capture the attention of merchants when that major new launch is ready. A dedicated event is a superb way of creating excitement and giving merchants the feeling of being the first to see the next big thing.
Choosing a location for the launch depends on the product. If there’s value in showing the latest innovations in manufacture that went into developing the product, then it makes sense to hold the launch at the factory, so that merchants can be given a tour. This gives them a deeper understanding of why the product is so useful to their customers, helping to build sales strategies that will pay off.
Alternatively, consider hosting the launch in a more unusual environment. Find a venue that suits the benefits of the product, or the values of your brand, and you’ll engage with your guests in a memorable and inspiring way.
Conferences and CPD
Many companies boost awareness and influence by setting the agenda on the hot-button topics in the industry. From the housing crisis to the ongoing skills shortage in the construction sector, there are lots of subjects to discuss.
Hosting a conference or seminar programme can be a valuable means of networking with important stakeholders. These links can be forged before the event even takes place, since a well-planned programme will require a broad mix of speakers from different organisations.
It’s worth offering a certificate to attendees, particularly if you’re targeting professionals such as architects or civil engineers who can count attending towards their CPD.
There’s also value in opening up conferences to double as mini-exhibitions, where a variety of companies can take a space. Not only will this extend the reach of your audience, it can reinforce business relationships with key suppliers or customers.
Sometimes, the best reason to hold an event is to build better relationships. If you want to thank suppliers or customers for their business, getting them together for some food and drink makes a real impression. Even better, link up with another activity – either one where guests can watch, like a race day, or one in which your guests can take part, like a golf day.
Promote, promote, promote
A good event is about starting conversations, so boost your chances by shouting about it before, during and after. Marketing begins well in advance of the big day. Good planning means you can invite potential guests, suppliers and speakers months beforehand, and then keep repeating the message through ongoing PR, social media and email marketing.
Maintain that level of communication during the event itself – these days, with live blogs, Twitter and Facebook Live, you can easily capture the buzz of being there online. And follow-up with news reports, blogs and videos afterwards so that even people who missed the event will know exactly what it was about.
Whatever form your event takes, it will help you to achieve the classic goal of making friends and influencing people, in a way that guests will find useful, memorable and fun, and which will help your business to grow.
Simon Kinnear is director of communications at Balls2 Marketing.