3,500 delegates, 120 exhibiting companies and no less than eight different conference programmes. That’s the iGaming Supershow in one sentence.

So how do you get cut through amongst all that lot and ensure that your company’s brand, products and services resonate beyond the 30-second pitch your sales teams have mastered?

Well, we’ve been talking to delegates and exhibitors at shows in gaming and other sectors over the past 5 years, and we’ve run a few stands ourselves in our time so we reckon we’re pretty well placed to provide some helpful tips. Fellow exhibitionists, lend me your ears…

Visitors don’t like being sold to at seminars

This is not news. There’s not a person reading this who’s not sat through a presentation – at the iGaming SuperShow, ICE, or elsewhere and wanted to walk out due to the overt selling on stage. Yet at every show we’ve ever been at, companies are still doing it.

Whenever our exit pollers have asked exhibition visitors to study the seminar timetable and pick out a talk that sounded really interesting, not one of them has ever picked a topic that explicitly mentioned a product or an exhibiting company. Presentations like this just don’t generate sales – in fact, if anything they lose them: I’ve organised dinners where guests have changed seats because they were placed next to a supplier with a reputation for being too sales-y. That’s not a position anyone wants to be in.

More discursive seminar topics like iGaming SuperShow’s “digital advertising and player acquisition” panel, which brings together a number of diverse viewpoints, work better for everyone:  they provide genuinely useful insights for the audience, and enable speakers to position themselves as thought leaders.

Get to know SuperShow visitors before the show starts

As any sportsman knows, you don’t win on matchday without putting in the hours on the training ground beforehand. and trade shows are exactly the same (err, sort of) yet we’re continually surprised by how many exhibitors and visitors leave their show success to chance by rocking up on the day with no idea who they’re going to talk to about what. Not only is that a colossal waste of time, it’s a waste of money too. by the time you’ve shelled out for this stand space, design & build, hotels, glossy brochures and squeezy rubber giveaways, you can be well on your way to six figures. Not priming existing and potential customers is just dumb. Pre-event direct mail has a role to play here but it’s not an easy option: Visitors often recall receiving emails inviting them to “come visit us at stand X, Y or Z”, when what they’re really looking for a compelling reason for why they should visit.One off eShots, isolated newsletters or social campaigns carry little weight at the best of times, so actioning one of these in the build-up to the country’s biggest trade show has about as much impact as sending a cheap card at Christmas.  Think about what makes your products visitable – how are they going to help show visitors come away from your stand better off than they were beforehand? if you can distill that into a compelling mailshot (which we do all the time, by the way!) you’ll be 2 steps ahead of the pack.

Be seen on online channels

In our view, B2B marketing and social media can often be an awkward mix. It can sometimes feel a bit like a dad trying to look cool at a teenager’s birthday party. The one time where we see the real benefits of B2B social though, is around  events and tradeshows. it’s a great place to listen to – and contribute to less formal (and often more genuine) debate, and for marketers as individuals to create one-2-one relationships with others in the space.  Individual accounts are WAY more engaging than faceless company accounts in this context. People want to  build personal relations at trade shows, even online. It’s also a great way to find out where the aftershow parties are happening, and whether those elusive targets you’ve been trying to pin down will be at them 😉

Aside from the parties, There’s a lot of downtime before and after show days with bored delegates sat on trains to and from the show, idly flicking through their social accounts so it can be a great way to get in front of them in a more relaxed manner, but at a time where your message can be incredibly relevant get them to your stand the following day.

Just as importantly, keeping an eye on those show hashtags (which surprisingly the show hasn’t printed on its brochure, but we can confidently assure you will be #iGSS2015 and inevitably #igamingsupershow)

Remember the people who aren’t even there: might be more important than the people who are

Picture the scene: your biggest target – the one guy (or girl) who you just know needs your product – has declined your meeting request saying he’s unable to make the exhibition this year.

OK, that’s bad news, but the good news is, he’s not meeting any of your competitors. and if he’s a show regular, chances are he’ll be keeping a watchful eye on things online. So there’s an opportunity to build your authority and keep front of mind: add value by live tweeting stuff you know he’ll be looking for, direct message him with (non-salesy) messages about content you’ve found that he’ll be interested in. Grab a copy of a useful industry report and tweet him to say you’ll stick it in the post. You’ll look like an ally – or even his BFF!

Giveaways and girls… your clients aren’t really that shallow are they?

We don’t really get stand girls – not because we’re coming over all PC – we’ve just never met one that’s influenced our buying decisions. We’ve met plenty who’ve distracted sales managers from doing their jobs, a few who actually put people off visiting a stand for fear of looking like a lech, and lots who’ve dragged us into pointless meetings with sales guys because, well frankly because, we struggle to say no to a pretty face. THEY DONT WORK! If the outcome of your show is your stand being remembered as “that one with all those girls” you’ve got real problems  (IGT – we’re looking at you!)

The same applies for iPads / apple watches / whatever the flavour-of-the-month gizmo is this week. You’ll get a nice easy metric from the show that tells your boss you got 100s of business cards, but you can bet your bottom dollar 90% of them are irrelevant. Believe us – there are people at these shows who do nothing but hoover up the freebies and drop their cards in goldfish bowls – they’re not people you’re ever going to make money out of! If you want business cards – relevant ones from people you want to talk to – revise the steps above and give your sales team a big kick up the @ss. here’s a list of 5 rubbish giveaways that didn’t convert me into a customer:

  • Miniature boxing gloves
  • Cigarette lighter (newsflash – this is 2015, not 1985)
  • An x-rated calendar (err, see above?)
  • A swimming cap (Really! and it wasnt even at a swimming related show!)
  • Umpteen mini footballs – (Because nothing says “we’re innovative” like a cheap mini football…)
  • A Galaxy tablet (OK, I really liked the tablet, so did the wife, but I can’t even remember who gave it to me!)

Here’s an idea – save your money, and do something your (true) clients and targets will appreciate. If they’re from out of town, show them the sights. If your last meeting of the day’s rushing to catch a plane, pay for his taxi (and ask for a follow up meeting once he’s back home). Or just get a fridge on your stand and save them paying over the odds for a lukewarm coke from Upper Crust that’s the kind of thing people really appreciate and will live long in the memory (OK, they might not remember the coke for long, but it’ll keep them engaged a damn sight longer than a girl in a catsuit)

Not sure your event plan for IGSS is all it could be?

You’re not the only one. Give yourself credit for recognising the fact early enough to do something about it. It’s (almost) never too late to take action so give us a call on 020 8783 9602 or email chris@nowcommunications.co.uk and share the burden with us.

We’ve done hundreds of these things and we’re sure we’ll be able to help  – and even if you have that rare problem we really can’t fix, we guarantee we know someone who can.

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