News and insights • Posted on 15 March 2024

How to make the most of a corporate event

There’s more to showcasing at a trade event than simply buying a stand. From setting goals and objectives to raising awareness of your attendance, a successful exhibition starts with a solid strategy, and is months in the making.

If you’re new to corporate exhibitions, unsure how to craft an action plan, or want to gain the most effective exposure possible (before and after), we guide you through the best ways to prepare, and common pitfalls to avoid.

Benefits of exhibiting your brand at a corporate event

Whether you’re a tech startup or a toy manufacturer, exhibiting at a corporate event offers brands of all sizes a wide range of opportunities. As well as being ideal for building relationships with industry peers, potential leads, existing customers, partners, and investors, they’re also a surefire way to make your brand more visible among a targeted audience. By showcasing products, services, and expertise, your business can stand out as a thought leader and leave a lasting impression.

How to navigate corporate event planning

We’ve helped brands successfully plan, promote, and exhibit at corporate events. To make sure you squeeze all those benefits and get a significant return on investment (ROI), we outline the steps to take, from budget planning to PR.

Set clear goals and objectives

Before diving into the nitty-gritty details of event planning, it’s crucial to get clear on your goal. What do you hope to achieve by showcasing at this event? Are you looking to generate leads, increase brand awareness, or demo a new product? Focus on your objectives before you even start looking for events – you'll be better equipped to tailor your strategy towards a successful ROI.

Put your plan together

Now you have your goals, you can start preparations. Your budget will be the key factor here: many businesses don’t realise that funds can easily be spent in full on a stand alone, so knowing where to allocate budget is vital. But it’s not enough to simply buy a stand and turn up on the day. It’s also important to consider:

  • Who are we speaking to? Exploring this in detail will help you craft the most compelling stand design and messaging to encourage your target audience (particularly key decision makers) to visit you at the event.

  • Where will we be located? This will dictate how visible and accessible you are on the day. Are there any main walkways or spots you can position near where people tend to congregate? Additionally, who will your neighbours be? If they’re competitors, you’ll need to ensure you stand out and draw attendees to your stand instead. On the other hand, being beside brands with complementary products and services can encourage cross-promotion.

  • How much space and storage do we have? The crucial details that are often overlooked in the preparation stage. Will you have enough room to set up displays, demo areas, or interactive exhibits? Where does all your business and personal stuff go when you’re there?

  • What marketing materials do we need? We will dive deeper into this, but at a top level: what does your key messaging need to say and do? For instance, if sustainability is a key focus for you, we would go the extra mile in how you look: everything from the materials used, the print you produce, and production methods used for your stand too. As well as promotional literature for the day, think about digital marketing: how can you use social media to raise awareness of your attendance? Encouraging attendees to book a demo for the event in advance is a great way to ensure people will be at your stand, so you can focus more on providing the best help on the day (and less on attracting people to your booth).

  • Where are we promoting our attendance? There’s rarely any point in investing all your budget in a trade event if no one knows you’re there. Leverage digital channels before, during, and after the event (you can plan much of this in advance). Consider partnering with industry experts to leverage event marketing and digital PR: even better, find a full integrated agency that can do it all.

  • Do we have any merch? Swapping business cards is helpful, but you can truly put your brand at the forefront of customer’s minds in the future with quality merch. For B2B companies, branded merch that people will keep on them during their workday is a perfect way to do this. Think notebooks, water bottles, powerbanks, pens, fidget cubes, coasters: the more useful, the better.

  • How can we maximise this spend in the future? To futureproof your investment, consider whether your stand can easily be lifted and repurposed for future events. Is the messaging evergreen? For example, if you’re promoting a new product, avoiding the word ‘new’ on the stand will ensure you can reuse it again and again.

Maximising your budget

So, where are the best places to spend your money to achieve maximum impact with a corporate event? This, of course, depends on your objectives. One pitfall to avoid is splurging on a flashy booth straight away. Businesses that do this often then realise their budget is gone, so the smartest way is to focus on strategic investments that yield long-term benefits.

Other areas to invest in could include targeted advertising campaigns on social media or search engines, reaching out to press in a way that will interest them enough to promote your attendance, sponsoring key industry sessions, or investing in other interactive assets to generate more interest.

Tech companies, for example, can better showcase products with a quality demo area, or QR codes on stand panels and business cards to link to online demo bookings and capture lead data. We prioritised this in our planning and promotion for Mizaic to exhibit the company’s digital medical record library at Rewired in March 2024. Hosted by Digital Health at the Birmingham NEC Arena, we worked as a collective months beforehand to plan the most important areas to assign budget.

As well as designing and writing the stand itself (which can now be used for future events), we created literature for the event, such as two-pager case studies, e-posters, and a business card with a QR code to book a demo. We also focussed on digital marketing, from LinkedIn banners for both the company and individual team members (and even branded #Rewired2024 profile images) to social media marketing and digital PR throughout the event.

Staying agile and adaptable

From the lead up to post promotion, the fast-paced world of corporate events requires plenty of planning, agility, and adaptability in order to be successful. By focusing on the full picture, prioritising resources and spend, and staying flexible and responsive, you can generate awareness and drive leads for the event and beyond.

As a truly integrated agency, we work with our sister agency Scriba PR to satisfy even more client needs, seriously bolstering corporate events with creative content marketing and digital PR on top of logistical planning. We can even book your event for you, fully supporting you before, during, and after to ensure success. If you’re interested in exploring how we can help your business plan and execute a corporate event, drop us a line.

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Written by Nina Cresswell

Senior content writer Nina is devoted to conscious copywriting that achieves marketing goals and makes consumers feel good.

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