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
Enough said! It looks like putting some of your focus on retaining your current exhibitors will go a long way towards growing your event. Happy exhibitors will talk about your event and encourage their customers to attend. Listed below are a few programs we have seen show organizers implement that increase exhibitor retention. And best of all, you should be able to execute all of them with some management focus and a very limited budget.
1. Give your Exhibitors an Opportunity to Define their Own Sponsorships: Most of your exhibitors go to multiple events. Some of those shows are bound to have good sponsorship ideas that you haven’t included in your event, yet. If an exhibitor finds a sponsorship at one event to be beneficial, then they are likely to be willing to pay for the opportunity to participate in that sponsorship at your event as well.
2. Increase Attendance: More attendees mean more interactions between potential buyers and the sellers that are exhibiting at your show. One proven way to do this is to get your exhibitors to invite their prospects to your event. Email is a good tool for this job. There is a “free” way to do this and one where you hire a vendor to help.
- The “free” way. Create a couple of images that exhibitors can use in the emails they send to their customers to invite them to your show. If you want to go a little further, you can generate some HTML code so they have an easy template to use for these emails.
- Hiring a Vendor. This is pretty straight forward. Companies like ours 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.
3. Encourage Attendees to Visit More Booths: Create a sponsorship, or host a program that encourages the attendees to visit more booths. Most attendees have a tendency to visit the exhibitors they are currently doing business with, and then if they have time they walk the floor looking for other exhibitors.
- One idea that some organizers use is to issue punch cards to their attendees with a number of sponsors included on the card.
- Another variant would be to create multiple versions of the card with all exhibitors and hand them out randomly to attendees. At the end of the show you have a drawing where everyone that has visited all the booths on their card is eligible to win a prize.
4. Enable your Exhibitors to Contact the Attendees Directly: Attendees are often in a hurry when they are on the show floor. They need to see all the vendors they work with, and then they want to learn about the new products that will help them with their jobs. Allowing your exhibitors to send out a pre-show email blasts will give the attendees more information about what booths they should visit, and connect buyer with sellers on the show floor. A couple thoughts on how to do this:
- You probably don’t want to give the exhibitors the Excel file with all the attendees contact info.
- Sending emails on behalf of your exhibitors will allow you to protect the attendee list from misuse. Mail Chimp or Constant Contact are cheap tools that can be used for this. It just requires one of your staff members to manage the process.
- You can hire a company like ours to do it for you. There are many companies that can manage this process for you. Our model doesn’t cost you anything and can generate revenue for the show.
5. Offer Exclusive Exhibit Hours: Exhibitors get frustrated when the show floor is empty because all the attendees are at sessions or some other show sponsored event. If you’re not already doing it, think about a way to carve out specific hours where attendees are encouraged to visit the expo hall. If the show isn’t productive for an exhibitor, their first complaint will be that it was your fault for not getting enough buyers to their booth.
The truth is that exhibitors need help when it comes to getting buyers into their booths. Show organizers are in a unique position to help them. By helping your exhibitors to be more successful, it 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