If you’re operating in the ‘corporate world’ it’s quite likely that your Event & Exhibition Manager resource is bolted onto several other responsibilities in someone’s role.  It certainly was in my 20 year’s of corporate experience.  I might have been the National Account Manager responsible for £000’s of my company’s profit, but somehow that also made me obviously capable of  planning,  delivering and evaluating the channel’s trade show programme. Or as we’ve so often seen, live events are handed over to the newest graduate placement candidate or intern as a ‘learning experience’.

But is that seriously the best way to drive a solid return and fill your sales pipeline from live events?

Event Management Degree

I ask the question as I read an interesting article on Conference News’ website yesterday about the content of Event Management degrees  (Click here to view). Whilst it was encouraging to see an emphasis on vocational aspects of the course, it was disappointing to see that in terms of career guidance, agency, venue and organiser roles took priority. What about the roles working in-house at large organisations as event managers, surely they provide equal value, interest and earning power as more defined sectors of the industry? I appreciate that not all organisation’s have the scale to warrant an exclusive event manager role and it will naturally be a hybrid of a larger marketing responsibility. But there are plenty of companies that do have specific event manager roles, just a quick review on LinkedIn shows Shell, Google and Royal Mail with such job titles as well as a plethora of smaller businesses.

So what benefits does having a defined and focused Live Event & Exhibitions  Manager bring an organisation?

  1. STRATEGIC FOCUS – the clue is in the question. With just a portfolio of events to Focus on Exhibitionsfocus on, a specific resource can clearly understand and articulate the role events play in delivering the corporate agenda. With the time and space to really understand which exhibitions, conferences and seminars add value to the corporate objectives, an Exhibitions and Event manager can select those which will deliver the highest return as part of an aligned strategy.
  2. KNOWLEDGE & SKILL – with the opportunity to fully immerse themselves into the events agenda, an Exhibition and Events manager can take the time to build their skills and confidence, network in the industry and keep at the very forefront of innovation and trends – all in order to make their own events better.  That’s really difficult to do when you’re juggling a P&L account, annual reviews for your team and customer queries.
  3. RELATIONSHIPS – so often we see exhibitors investing in trade shows ‘just becauseExhibitor Agency Relationship.jpg they always have’ or using out-of-date or irrelevant stands and collateral because they haven’t had time to think about what will really deliver a return. In creating an Events & Exhibition Manager post, organisations are enabling the individual the opportunity to fully evaluate past performance, hold stand designers and organisers to account for where things could be done better and continually refresh the offer to ensure it meets the evolving needs of key customers and prospects. Having the time to build and develop strategic partnerships with suppliers and colleagues who fully understand the commercial objectives of live events and exhibitions can only ever add value to the final outputs on the show floor.
  4. ACCOUNTABILITY – on average, only 13% of leads ever get followed up from exhibitions, and even fewer are tracked through an organisation to calculate the commercial value and return.  So it’s no wonder senior management teams can become suspicious about investing in exhibitions when they have so little evidence of their return.  Yet face-to-face marketing is proven time and again to be one of the most powerful tactics for filling your sales pipeline. So imagine the evidence that could be collected and shared to demonstrate the value of exhibitions if only someone had the time to do that? And whilst they will be able to demonstrate how successful the last show was, they will also be able to suggest how even more value can be extracted from the next one.
  5. CREDIBILITY – by investing in a dedicated events & exhibitions resource it makes Exhibitor Credibilitya statement to your employees, customers, stakeholders and the wider industry. It clearly articulates not only that you take events seriously as an organisation, but that you take everyone else’s contribution seriously and you refuse to accept mediocrity. Investing in a resource to plan, implement and evaluate your annual live event programme as part of an aligned marketing strategy means you can be confident that maximum value is being extracted and events avoid becoming the money pit they are often perceived to be.

Admittedly it can be a difficult commercial decision to release budget for what some people might incorrectly term a ‘party planner’. But as we often say to clients, either do it well or don’t do it all.  Live events and exhibitions take time, money and effort – lots of all 3 in fact, and as such, asking an already over-worked colleague to add trade show planning to their To Do list is destined to fail.  To maximise the outputs and fill your sales pipeline there’s so much more to exhibitions than ordering a few pop up banners and chatting to people for 3 days.

If you’re still struggling to find the right resource internally to deliver your live event head shots 010and exhibition programmer we’re here to help, either through our consultancy services or to become an extension of your team as your own outsourced in-house Exhibitions Manager – read about our Project Management services here.

If you’ve been inspired by this blog post, here are a couple of others which you might find interesting on similar topics:



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