Monday, 30 June 2014

Guest Post: Sibos - no rest for the wicked or even the wise

Eria Odhuba, resident analyst relations lead at The Comms Crowd reviews the 'dos and don'ts' for getting the best out of the mighty trade show.
 
Sibos  - comes round quicker than Christmas
So I’ve just been to a couple of big industry events, and it got me thinking about the preparation exhibitors need to do to make them worthwhile. I am going to use Sibos 2014, this year in Boston, as an example here as I have shed so many tears getting clients Sibos-ready over the years.

Obviously there are many exhibitors who have got Sibos running through their veins and if they had time, could write this post with their eyes shut, but here's a guide for Sibos newbies, or a useful checklist for the seasoned salts.

What are some of the issues with events like Sibos 2014?

  1. ROI – if you’re going to exhibit, you want to make sure you recoup your costs and some! It's a very expensive line item, the return needs to be quantifiable and equally impressive. 
  2. Poor preparation before the event – If you don’t plan your communications and resources properly, you will look amateurish and it will show compared to those companies that have this event down pat. 
  3. Being heard above the white noise – if you don’t know your key message, if it's not relevant, fresh and exciting, then you won't get heard. 
  4. Thinking lead generation begins at the event – People come to Sibos to continue conversations, not to start them, Sibos needs to be the culmination of a campaign that results in a face to face meeting. 
  5. Recruitment consultants – not much you can do about this. I remember a consultant at Sibos who told me, at a party, that he had received or processed CVs for about 25 people in the room. The recession is over; it's a seller's market. 
What should you NOT do before Sibos 2014? 
  1. Panic (!) i.e. wait until it is too late before preparing for the event. 
  2. Keep your head in the sand and ignore industry trends leading up to the event – you need to know what pain delegates are feeling so you know what your products and services best address it. 
  3. Miss the opportunity to try and connect with signed-up delegates before the event (more on this later). 
  4. Prepare conference material that is bland or off topic. 
How should you prepare for Sibos 2014?
  1. First of all, you need a three-month activity timeline with specific actions and deadlines, allocating responsibility for each action. So, with Sibos 2014 in October, you need to start planning now, July. 
  2. If you're reading this and you haven't booked your hotels and flights yet, suggest you stop reading right now and get on it :) 
  3. To stay ahead of the game, read the Sibos 2013 summary by Aite Group here and other post-event summaries. 
  4. Read Sibos Issues and other news to understand what people will be talking about this year. Don’t repeat the last year’s messages or themes – find something new and relevant to attract attention in the lead up to the event. If you can’t figure out how to articulate your value proposition, get help. 
  5. Think how this event falls into your sales funnel. Identify key prospects from the delegate list, and plan multi-step communications or lead generation activities to get them to want to talk to you at the event. Each step should add value to the relationship, so use content to increase interest. Get delegates to self-select themselves to contact you for a meeting based on the content you have provided BEFORE the event. 
  6. Plan your press and industry analyst engagements now. Influencers don’t have time to speak to everyone so make sure you know how and what to pitch to them. If you don’t know how, get an expert in. Don’t be unprofessional about this and ignore the value of great influencer meetings. 
  7. Focus on meeting influencers you rarely see, rather than those that are down the road from you who you can catch up with any time. 
  8. Go for feature opportunities that get you in the news the week of Sibos, and make sure whatever news announcement you have is actually informative and not simply white noise. 
  9. Contribute or link to pre-event social media communications to help build your profile before the event. 
  10. Plan your post-Sibos steps now – what content or steps will you follow up with and who will be responsible for these steps? What you do after the event is even more important if you want to convert prospects into sales? 
What to do at Sibos 2014?
  1. Make sure you set time and proper spaces aside to speak to delegates you have meetings planned with. 
  2. Document your meetings and make someone responsible for managing follow up actions. 
  3. Plan how each contact will be communicated with after the event and when. 
  4. Get someone to walk the floor to see what other exhibitors are displaying. You need to understand what competitors are saying and how they might be getting their message across. 
  5. Have content that is sharp and precise enough for someone to read in two minutes that would make them want to ask questions. 
  6. Enjoy yourself; ergo no rest for the wicked! 
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