7 Deadly Sins in Event and Exhibition Marketing

Lights! Cameras! Action!

Nothing beats the pulsating energy of a live event. Lively music invigorating the venue. Throngs of folks checking out what’s available in the market. Charismatic speakers enchanting their listeners with tips, thoughts and tales.

From road shows to exhibitions, conferences to concerts, a physical event helps you to reach your prospects in a direct face-to-face manner.

You can also immerse them fully in the aura of your brand, amazing them with the splendour of your products or services.

Unfortunately, the devil is in the details.

Often, event organisers fail to design and plan their events to maximise their impact. As a result, they suffer from poor event attendances, lousy number of leads generated, cringeworthy sales figures, and low brand awareness.

What are some of these deadly mistakes in event organisation?


#1 Failure to Develop an Event Brief

First and most importantly, you need to develop a detailed event brief or guide for your event. Covering everything from A to Z, it is also known as a “survivor’s guide” or a “minute-by-minute” for the events team and covers all contingencies and issues.

Must haves in your event SOP includes:

  • All contact particulars of key personnel, especially mobile phone numbers
  • Detailed rundown of the event proceedings – pre, during and post event.
  • Set-up and tear-down activities, technical rehearsals (sound and light), full-dress rehearsals, walk-throughs,
  • Exact “touring” route of your Guest Of Honour (GOH) or other VIPs.
  • Detailed sketches, floor maps and layouts of the various sites
  • Venues and locations, personnel involved, and their roles.
  • Logistic details from flower arrangements, backdrops, stage lighting, sound equipment, podiums and so on.
  • All exact dates and timings.

#2 Failure to Stick to Your Brand

Have you attended an event by a major brand, only to freak out when the “live entertainment” comes on?

Case in point? Microsoft’s use of half-naked dancing girls at an event which got them into a lot of heat.

Like all other customer touch points – perhaps even more so – your event is the epitome of your brand. Thus, you need to ensure that every single element of your brand identity is correctly represented. From the representation of your brand logo and the use of corporate colours, tone of voice, types of images used, to even the choice of appropriate entertainment.


#3 Failure to Create the Right Environment

One of the most critical part of an event is its immediate physical environment.

Also known as atmospherics or ambient factors, it covers stuff like your physical displays, standees, furniture and fixtures, scent, sound and music, lighting, temperature, floor and wall coverings. Think of it as all the different elements which cover your five senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.

Often the atmospherics at your event should be closely related to your brand identity. They should also suit the nature of your event.

For example, if your brand is associated with hipster chic and style, it may be weird to organise a launch event at hawker centre in a neighbourhood mall.

Similarly, it may be strange to organise a formal business conference with attendees dressed in shirt and ties at a wildlife or nature park.


#4 Failure to Address Murphy’s Law

Anything which can go wrong, will go wrong.

With so many moving parts – and people involved – it is inevitable that some minor or major screw ups could occur during your event.

To prevent this, you need to have a “plan B” and maybe even “plan C”. Typically, this backup plan would cover contingencies like the following:

  • Wet weather and other natural disasters
  • First aid and health emergencies
  • Staff MC or no-shows
  • Poor or overwhelming attendances
  • Technical failure (especially sound and light)
  • Insufficient supplies of goods or premiums


#5 Failure to Provide Food and Freebies

A hungry or thirsty event attendee is an angry attendee. Such a person is unlikely to be in the best of mind to hear your sales pitch.

Ensure that there are some refreshments provided at your event. The cost for this could either be factored into the ticket price (if it’s a paid event), or you could have vendors selling food or drinks at the location.

Your event participants would also cherish whatever freebies you can give them. This “event swag” can cover stuff like the following:

  • Customised and branded premiums
  • Product samples
  • Trial accounts or packages (for service businesses)
  • Discount vouchers to drive sales at outlets (yours or partners)

NINJA TRICK: To impress your prospect and convert him or her to become a paying customer, seek to offer premiums with high perceived value but low production costs.


#6 Failure to Educate and Inspire

The most important aspect of any event is its content. This can be anything from education, weddings, fashion and food, to financial management, IT and marketing.

A key thing here is to get quality speakers who can excite your crowd. These speakers can share useful insights about the latest industry trends, share ninja tips that help attendees to solve painful problems, or inspire them to take action.

As attendees have to leave work early or sacrifice their evenings/weekends to attend your event, you need to make it impactful so that it is worth their while. They would then bring their friends, family and colleagues along, or recommend them to attend.


#7 Failure to Collect Particulars and Follow Up

Last but certainly not least, you need to have a way to acquire prospects or leads from events, and to follow up with event attendees.

Here are some tips on how you can do so:

  • Always collect the name cards or business particulars of your event attendees
  • If possible, use an online registration system so that their particulars are captured
  • Try to categorise them rather than lump them into a generic database. Write down any unique points that cropped up during your conversation with them.
  • See if you can send them any post-event write-ups or coverage to keep the relationship warm.
  • Include them for future invitations to your events or activities.

Are there other points which you need to note in marketing an event? We’d love to hear your thoughts!



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