5 Ways to Retain your Current Exhibitors

August 13, 2016

First a few statistics on customer retention to set the stage*:

  • The cost to acquire a new customer is 5X more than to keep existing ones
  • 80% of your future revenue will come from existing customers
  • Reducing churn by 5% can increase profits 25% - 125%
  • 70% of customers leave because of poor customer service
  • For every customer who complains there are 26 others who remain silent

Obviously retaining your current customer base is important.  Here are some programs we have seen our customers use to increase exhibitor retention.

1.      Encourage Participation in the Full Conference Experience:  Many of your exhibitors only participate in the event during show hours.  Getting more exhibitors to attend the sessions and networking events will add value for both exhibitors and attendees.  And most importantly will give your exhibitors more opportunities to make connections and sales during your event. 

The practical way to do this: Encourage exhibitor participation in educational sessions by offering a free full conference pass for exhibitors that send out a certain number of emails to their customers promoting your event. 

2.      Define a Pathway for Success:  Exhibitors that simply show up and exhibit are going to be less successful than those that promote themselves and network during the event.  Beyond selling them a booth space and a sponsorship, your sales people should be creating a narrative that outlines how your exhibitors can be successful at your event.    

The practical way to do this:  Create a few free programs to help your exhibitors.  Ideas might include providing a press list for exhibitor press releases, tweets sent by the show on behalf of exhibitors, or a program that encourages exhibitors to invite their customers to the show.  Then create documentation that outlines the programs and how they can easily participate. 

3.      Give your Exhibitors an Opportunity to Define their Own Sponsorships: Most of your exhibitors go to multiple events. Some of those shows have good sponsorship ideas that you haven’t included in your event, yet. If an exhibitor finds a certain sponsorship to be beneficial at another event, then they are likely to be willing to pay for the opportunity at your event.

The practical way to do this: Consult with your past sponsors and prepare an inventory of ideas.  It will give your sales people another reason to call exhibitors and discuss some of these ideas as well as your current sponsorship offerings.

4.      Increase Attendance:  One proven way to drive attendance is to get your exhibitors to invite their prospects to your event. Email is a great tool for this. An easy to use, pre-programmed email service for exhibitors to use can be provided by:

a.      An In-House Service. Create a couple of JPG images that exhibitors can use in the emails they send to their customers to invite them to your show. Email your exhibitors to let them know these are available.

b.      Hiring a Vendor. This is pretty straight forward. There are companies that offer a service where exhibitors can login, generate emails, and send them to their own lists for free. The show pays for the service. The big benefit of hiring a vendor is they will help your exhibitors and encourage them to send those invitation emails.

5.      Enable your Exhibitors to Contact the Attendees Directly:  Allowing your exhibitors to do direct pre-show marketing will give the attendees more information about what booths they should visit, and connect buyer with sellers on the show floor.  Considering current CAN-SPAM legislation, the attendee list shouldn’t be given to exhibitors.  So the emails can either be sent by the organizer’s staff or by a third-party hired by the organizer.  Not only do pre-show and post-show emails to attendees provide a valuable service for exhibitors they can also generate additional revenue for the show.

Exhibitors need help when it comes to getting buyers into their booths. Show organizers are in a unique position to help them. Helping your exhibitors become more successful will directly benefit your show. Exhibitors will share their success at your event, which will bring in more exhibitors and attendees.

*Statistics courtesy of http://www.slideshare.net/apptegic/ten-staggering-statistics

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